PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence mayoral candidate Brett Smiley is hitting the airwaves Tuesday morning with the first TV ad of the campaign.

Smiley, who has raised the most money in the three-way race so far, has made a six-figure media buy on broadcast television for commercials set to air Tuesday through the Sept. 13 primary, according to public disclosure reports filed by local stations.

The new spot features Smiley working with former Gov. Gina Raimondo and promoting his recurring message of improving basic city services like filling potholes and plowing the streets.

“I’ll roll up my sleeves and sweat the details,” Smiley says in the spot, while opening a city garbage can lid for a woman to drop in a bag of trash.

The commercial is slated to air through Aug. 22 on several broadcasters including WPRI 12 and WJAR-TV, plus cable stations in both English and Spanish, according to spokesperson Emily Crowell. The campaign is then expected to air a new spot later in the campaign.

Smiley could be the only candidate to go on the air with television ads in the weeks before the Democratic primary, where he’s facing Gonzalo Cuervo and City Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune. (There are no independent or Republican candidates, so the primary winner will be unopposed in November.)

LaFortune has the lowest fundraising numbers of the three, but has said her campaign is making up for it in door knocks. She had $172,432 in her campaign account as of June 30.

“There is an advantage when you have additional funds to spend on TV ads,” Lafortune acknowledged in a recent interview on Pulse of Providence. “We’re using our funds strategically, we’re knocking on doors, making connections with the voters.”

Cuervo, who had $219,336 on hand as of the most recent reporting deadline, wasn’t overly concerned about Smiley’s larger war chest in his own recent Pulse of Providence interview.

“The ground game has beat the money game every single time in the 21st century,” Cuervo said of the last three open mayoral races.

His campaign manager said Tuesday Cuervo does not plan on having TV commercials.

Television ads boost a candidate’s name recognition and spread their messages, but are also one of the most expensive costs for a candidate, especially in a mayoral campaign where only a fraction of those who see the commercial statewide can actually vote in the race.

Smiley has never held elective office in Providence, but raised his profile due to his previous mayoral run and high-profile state job during the pandemic.

He had $642,371 on hand in his campaign account as of June 30.

“It’s because there are people from around the city, and around the state honestly, who know that in order to have a healthy Rhode island we need to have a healthy Providence,” Smiley said on Pulse of Providence last month. “They’re excited about my candidacy and continue to support me financially, which is terrific.”

Steph Machado ( is a Target 12 investigative reporter covering Providence, politics and more for 12 News. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.