Vincent “Buddy” Cianci, Jr. is running for his third term as mayor of Providence, RI. The difference between Buddy Cianci and the other two candidates, in case you haven’t heard, is that Mr. Cianci is a convicted felon.
A Harvard Political Review article recently characterized the sequence of events surrounding Cianci’s political career, “first as tragedy, and second as farce, then what happens the third time around,” remains to be seen on election day, but Levenson doesn’t anticipate any major shocks.
His first term, 1975-84 ended when he angrily assaulted a man for allegedly having an affair with his wife. His second term, 1991-2002 ended in disgrace with a felony conviction on federal corruption charges. He was sentenced to five years in federal prison.
Now at age 74, Cianci maintains that he was acquitted of all but conspiracy charges. Many are aware of the economic development of Providence during the 1990’s which Cianci claims as his own, reviving the downtown area, bringing in new jobs and a new cultural environment. He laments that there is little if any development going on today in Providence.
He sees the working and middle class as his best hope and has been reaching out to Latinos who comprise almost 40 percent of the city.
Criticism has come from inside and out of the Providence area, his having gained national attention as a colorful and controversial political hack. Cianci has twice the financial support of his opponents and has been leading the polls. Many of the folks in Providence respect Cianci for the development he facilitated and they long for more: more jobs, more development and more opportunities.
Whether Buddy Cianci’s supporters are merely nostalgic for a piece of the past or are willing to use their vote to register support, remains to be seen.