PROVIDENCE – The outcome of the presidency hasn’t been settled, but some Rhode Island politicians are already turning their attention to 2022.
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, a term-limited Democrat who is eyeing a run for governor in two years, has parted ways with his longtime fund-raising firm, CFO Consulting Group. Nora Barré started as his director of fund-raising and campaign coordinator on Nov. 1.
“Mayor Elorza wanted a full-time finance director as he continues to evaluate his plans for the future,” Meg Clurman, the president of CFO Consulting, said in an e-mail. “As consultants, that’s not a service that we provide. I’m proud of the work our team has done for Mayor Elorza over the past six years and wish him all the best.”
CFO Consulting Group has worked for Elorza since his first campaign for mayor in 2014, and has helped him become one of the most prolific political fund-raisers in Rhode Island. He has raised $1.9 million since taking office, and currently has $733,000 in his campaign account, according to a filing with the Board of Elections earlier this week.
The firm, which was founded by current state Director of Administration Brett Smiley, has become one of the leading fund-rising companies in Rhode Island. Smiley, who worked as the city’s chief operating officer during Elorza’s first term and has said he plans to run for mayor in 2022, is no longer associated with CFO Consulting.
Barré is not well-known in Rhode Island political circles, but an emotional exchange about Syria and Russian President Vladimir Putin she had with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush in New Hampshire during his campaign for president in 2015 received international press attention. In an e-mail, she said she supported the Republican’s campaign and served on several of Bush’s committees.
Barré said she has helped raise money for many initiatives in recent years, most recently at the The Syria Fund, which helped to build schools for Syrian refugee children living in Jordan.
Elorza has not formally announced a run for governor, but has said he hopes to make a decision by the end of the year.
He has told allies that he sees a path to the governor’s office by running as a progressive and attempting to capitalize on US Senator Bernie Sanders' popularity in the state. In recent months, he has announced commissions that will study the feasibility of providing reparations to Black and indigenous people and consider a guaranteed income program for some residents in the city.
But he has also faced criticism from some on the left for supporting charter schools and showing reluctance when it comes to defunding the police this summer. If he runs for governor, he’ll also have to explain to voters why the state took control of Providence’s struggling public school system last year.
Current Governor Gina Raimondo is term limited in 2022, so the field for the state’s top job is expected to be wide open. Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee, state Treasurer Seth Magaziner, and Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea are among the currently elected officeholders expected to seek the governorship.