Democrat Brett Smiley won the Democratic primary for Providence mayor Tuesday, defeating challengers Gonzalo Cuervo and Nirva LaFortune MA’19, The Boston Globe projects. No Republicans or Independents will appear on the ballot in November, meaning that Smiley’s ascension to the mayor’s office is all but guaranteed.
By press time Tuesday with 98.78% of precincts reporting, Smiley led with 41.9% of the vote, with Cuervo trailing at 36.2% and LaFortune at 21.9%.
Prior to major media outlets calling the race, Smiley gave a victory speech at Narragansett Brewery. LaFortune conceded to and congratulated Smiley in a tweet and Cuervo called Smiley to offer him his congratulations.
“We can be a world-class city,” Smiley said in his speech Tuesday night. He promised to address Providence’s failing education system, public safety and community policing as well as the housing crisis.
Smiley is the former chief operating officer for Mayor Jorge Elorza’s administration and worked as chief of staff in former Gov. Gina Raimondo’s administration. He ran for mayor previously in 2014 before dropping out to support then-candidate Jorge Elorza.
This time around, Smiley ran on public safety, climate action, improving Providence’s struggling K-12 public education system and addressing the housing crisis, The Herald previously reported.
Cuervo, who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, ran on improving income inequality and improving housing access, while LaFortune, a Providence City Councilwoman for Ward 3, ran on education reform, public safety and housing, The Herald previously reported.
Smiley initially faced a third opponent, longtime Providence politico and self-described moderate Democrat Michael Solomon. Solomon dropped out of the race and endorsed Smiley in May.
Smiley also served under Raimondo as the governor’s director of administration. He cited his years of experience in city and state government as what prepared him to identify the policies that would help Providence out of its financial, housing and educational troubles and address climate change.
During the campaign, Smiley was by far the most well-funded candidate, amassing a war chest more than four times that of his opponents, according to recent campaign finance filings. He came under fire from his opponents for campaign finance violations that resulted in him having to return donations made by state contractors while he was working for the Raimondo administration.
Current mayor Elorza endorsed Cuervo in August, calling him “one of the sharpest, brightest people there are in politics,” according to WPRI.