While Rhode Island’s statewide election in 2010 remains more than 30 months away, we can expect to see a heightened level of organizing among potential candidates in 2008. And Providence City Solicitor Joseph M. Fernandez has taken an early plunge by filing papers in December, indicating that he intends to be a Democratic candidate for attorney general, with the Rhode Island Board of Elections.
This could shape up as interesting race since one of the other prospective candidates, lawyer and state Senator Paul V. Jabour (D-Providence), is a close ally of former City Council president John J. Lombardi — one of Mayor David N. Cicilline’s most vocal critics on the Providence council. Robert Craven of Saund¬erstown is also considered a possible Democratic candidate for AG, and it’s conceivable that others may emerge.
While Cicilline is backing Hillary Clinton, Fernandez and his wife, Emily Maranjian, a white-collar prosecutor in AG Patrick Lynch’s office, were Harvard Law School classmates with Barack Obama, and they have been among the leaders of Obama’s Rhode Island campaign. Fernandez and Maranjian attended Brown University as undergrads.
Fernandez does not currently have much statewide name-recognition, but he has been active in the Cicilline administration, serving on the task force that formed the mayor’s ethics recommendations, for example, and in the community, serving on the board of Trinity Rep and as a director of Crossroads Rhode Island.
The organizing of the campaign before year’s end suggests this is being done for campaign-finance reasons, so that the candidate can gather contributions for part of the 2007 calendar year.
Meanwhile, Lynch, as we know, is term-limited as AG, and he shows every sign — with Cicilline, Treasurer Frank Caprio, and Lieuten¬ant Governor Elizabeth Roberts — of being part of a busy Democratic field for governor.
Fernandez is just one member of Provi¬dence’s municipal government who will figure in the 2010 election season.
John Kelly, chief of the Providence Zoning Board of Review, and the CEO of Meeting Street School, is organizing for a mayoral run. Ward 12 Councilman Terrence M. Hassett, the chamber’s majority leader, is expected to be a mayoral candidate. Ward 2 Councilman Cliff Wood and Colonel Dean Esserman of the Providence Police Department, although perhaps less likely to run, have also been mentioned as possible mayoral candidates.
Parts of this story were posted at thephoenix.com/notfornothing on December 26.
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