PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - Providence Mayor Angel Taveras will make a formal announcement Monday that he's running for governor next year, a move that's been widely expected in Rhode Island for months, WPRI.com has confirmed.
Taveras campaign spokesman Peter Baptista confirmed late Thursday that Taveras is preparing to make the announcement at the start of next week. Details about the timing and location of the mayor's announcement have yet to be determined and will be announced later, he said.
Taveras, a 43-year-old Democrat, succeeded David Cicilline as mayor of Providence in January 2011 and has spent most of his term battling what he termed a "category five" financial hurricane that almost pushed the capital into Chapter 9 bankruptcy. The Providence Journal first reported his plans for a Monday announcement.
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Taveras is expected to face fierce competition in the Democratic primary from Treasurer Gina Raimondo, who is also in her first term and has carved out a similar reputation for taking tough steps on fiscal issues. Raimondo has said she'll decide by the end of the year whether to run.
The pair of would-be Democratic candidates have already engaged in an extended tit-for-tat this week after Taveras said they should sign a so-called "People's Pledge" modeled on the one agreed to between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren in their Massachusetts U.S. Senate race to limit outside spending in the race.
Raimondo had a significant financial advantage over Taveras as of June 30, according to R.I. Board of Elections filings. She had about $2 million in her campaign account, while he had a bit less than $700,000. Opinion polls consistently show the two Democrats are Rhode Island's most popular politicians.
A survey commissioned by Taveras last month showed he would start with a 19-point lead over Raimondo in a primary race, according to a memo from Taveras pollster Fred Yang released by Baptista. The mayor is also being advised by Washington operative J.B. Poersch, the former longtime chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Jack Reed and head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
A third Democrat, Herbert Claiborne "Clay" Pell IV, is also reportedly considering jumping into the race. Pell is the grandson of the late U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell and has never held elected office. His wife is the figure-skater Michelle Kwan.
On the Republican side, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung has formed an exploratory committee and is expected to run for governor, as well. Businessman Ken Block, who founded the nascent Moderate Party and ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2010, is also seriously exploring running as a Republican.
The incumbent governor, Lincoln Chafee, announced last month he would not seek a second term. Chafee, an ex-Republican who joined the Democratic Party earlier this year, has been plagued by weak poll numbers since winning a four-way race as an independent with just 36% of the vote in 2010.
The decision by Taveras to run for governor will have a domino effect by creating a race to succeed him as mayor. A number of candidates are already angling to win the job, including City Council President Michael Solomon, political consultant Brett Smiley and former Providence Housing Court Judge Jorge Elorza.
Dan McGowan contributed to this report.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly said J.B. Poersch formerly worked for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; he worked for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
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