With four weeks until the Democratic primary, Providence mayoral candidate Brett Smiley is out with the first television commercial in that race.
The 30-second spot, which will begin airing today, highlights Smiley’s work as chief of staff to former governor Gina Raimondo and emphasizes his campaign pitch to get the basics right if he wins: schools, public safety, and city services.
The ad even includes a cameo from Courtney Hawkins, the former state director of human services, who is one of Smiley’s most loyal backers.
The ad is a significant departure from Smiley’s popular “man with a plan” ad during his 2014 race, where he pitched himself as a progressive who wanted to tax handguns and proposed to his husband via PowerPoint.
Smiley has taken a different approach as the perceived frontrunner this time around, making the case that he’s a pragmatic candidate who wants to under promise and over deliver as mayor.
There’s an age-old debate in city politics about whether television commercials are necessary in a mayoral race, and it’s worth noting that current mayoral Jorge Elorza and former mayor Angel Taveras used their resources on stronger get-out-the-vote campaigns rather than spending a lot on television.
Then again, Smiley has raised more than his two primary opponents, Gonzalo Cuervo and City Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune, combined - and one of his campaign strategies has been to win the support of residents who likely still watch the nightly news and daytime television.
With no public polling in that race, there’s no way to say for sure who’s leading the way - although none of the candidates disputed a poll released by Elorza a few weeks ago that showed Smiley with a slight lead over Cuervo and LaFortune knocking on the door.
This story first appeared in Rhode Map, our free newsletter about Rhode Island that also contains information about local events, data about the coronavirus in the state, and more. If you’d like to receive it via e-mail Monday through Friday, you can sign up here.