PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Less than two weeks after dropping out of the race for Providence mayor, Michael Solomon endorsed fellow Democrat Brett Smiley for the job.
Solomon, who said he exited the race in order to focus on his family and health, had previously said he was still deciding which candidate to throw his support behind.
“Our goals align perfectly when we talk about education, and we talk about fighting crime,” Solomon said, explaining why he picked Smiley.
Solomon’s endorsement was announced at a news conference at an Elmhurst park Tuesday afternoon, where he said Smiley would be able to start “on day one.”
“Brett is ready,” Solomon said. “Having dealt with Brett over the years, I know how capable and competent he is.”
Solomon was previously the Providence City Council president and ran for mayor in 2014, but was defeated in the primary by Mayor Jorge Elorza after Smiley dropped out to endorse Elorza.
At the time, Smiley said it was important to make sure “people like Mike Solomon and Buddy Cianci don’t have an opportunity to succeed in our city.”
Tuesday, as the two stood side-by-side, Smiley said his opinion of Solomon has changed.
“We were competitors in a really hard-fought campaign,” Smiley said. “But in the eight years since then I’ve been able to work with Michael personally, I’ve been able to see the product of his work, and honestly I’ve been able to appreciate at a very deep level how much respect he has in the community because of all the work that he did before I ever met him.”
Smiley said he has not discussed giving Solomon a position in his administration, if elected.
Smiley is competing with Gonzalo Cuervo and Nirva LaFortune in the September primary for the Democratic nomination for mayor. There are not currently any independents or Republicans in the race.
Sam Howard, a spokesperson for Cuervo, said the campaign had reached out to Solomon multiple times after he pulled out of the race, but were unable to connect.
“My campaign for mayor continues to build a diverse, citywide coalition of supporters who believe in Providence,” Cuervo said in a statement. “They are committed to building a prosperous and vibrant future for our great city and for all its families, regardless of zip code.”
Cuervo has picked up a number of endorsements from elected officials, including Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, City Councilors Rachel Miller and Kat Kerwin, state Sens. Maryellen Goodwin and Ana Quezada, state Reps. Jose Batista, Grace Diaz and Ramon Perez, and former Mayor Angel Taveras, among others.
LaFortune is endorsed by state Reps. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell and Rebecca Kislak.
Asked if LaFortune sought Solomon’s endorsement, her campaign manager said they did speak after he dropped out.
“They had a conversation about their shared desire to see Providence get crime and violence under control and make sure the city is providing better city services,” Matt Rauschenbach said in an email. “There is still lots of time before the election, and Nirva will continue spreading her message: Providence is ready for change and ready for an end to know-a-guy politics in City Hall.”
In addition to Solomon, Smiley is also endorsed by City Councilors Michael Correia, Jo-Ann Ryan, John Igliozzi, Nicholas Narducci and James Taylor. He also has the support of state Reps. Edith Ajello and Nathan Biah, along with state Sen. Frank Ciccone, among others.
Mayor Jorge Elorza has not endorsed a candidate in the race.
Despite doing little fundraising during his short-lived campaign, Solomon has a sizable war chest after depositing $250,000 into his campaign account, which can be used to support other candidates.
Asked what he’ll do with the funds, Solomon joked: “Maybe I’ll pay myself back.”