Metro

Elizabeth Warren backs Daniel Rivera for Lawrence mayor

Daniel Rivera has noted the lackluster preliminary vote for the incumbent.
Essdras M. Suarez/Globe Staff
Daniel Rivera has noted the lackluster preliminary vote for the incumbent.

US Senator Elizabeth Warren made a surprise 11th-hour endorsement in the Lawrence mayoral race Saturday, backing a challenger seeking to unseat a controversial incumbent.

Warren threw her support behind Daniel Rivera, a city councilor and Gulf War veteran, calling him “a true public servant” in a prepared statement.

“I know Dan will work tirelessly to reestablish the financial well-being of the city, while making the right investments for the future,” Warren said in the statement. “As a graduate of Lawrence public schools and the University of Massachusetts, he understands that investing in our future means investing in our schools and our youth.”

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Warren was unavailable for comment Saturday evening. Rivera, a Lawrence native, served as director of Latino outreach in Warren’s Senate campaign.

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Incumbent William Lantigua, elected the state’s first Latino mayor in 2009, has been the subject of a federal corruption investigation and has faced two failed recall campaigns.

Currently, the state attorney general is suing him for alleged campaign-finance law violations; several close allies have been indicted, and another convicted, on criminal corruption charges.

Lantigua did not respond to requests for comment Saturday.

Warren did not mention Lantigua in her statement.

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Rivera finished a distant second to Lantigua in a six-way preliminary, but Lantigua garnered less than half the vote, giving Rivera reason to believe he could win.

Rivera said Saturday that Warren’s endorsement showed his ability to rally important supporters and could tip some undecided voters.

“We have so many needs in our community, and to have a leader that can bring federal leaders in, that can bring state leaders in, that can bring business leaders in, that’s going to make a difference in our city,” Rivera said.

He said his campaign had spoken with 17,000 voters before the preliminary and contacted as many as 19,000 since.

“I think we’re going to win on Tuesday because we’ve done all the work,” Rivera said.

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com.