Businessman Lorne Adrain dropped out of Providence's mayoral race on Monday, a decision that could make the path to victory harder for former mayor and two-time convicted felon Buddy Cianci.
Adrain called it a tough decision, but one that was best for the city.
"Now that the field of candidates has been settled, it is clear to me that it presents a substantial risk to the progress we all so desperately need and want. With this in mind, I am withdrawing from the race. My decision gives us all the greatest opportunity to move Providence forward," Adrain said in a statement.
Adrain initially entered the race as a Democrat but switched to independent when he formally declared his candidacy last month. He would have been pitted against Cianci, also an independent, Republican Dan Harrop and the eventual winner of the Democratic primary. That meant the winner could have won with a small percentage of the electorate.
The contest is still likely to be a three-way race, but the winner will need more votes. In addition, Harrop said Monday that he would not rule out leaving the race as well - a decision he said he would not make until mid-October, once the Democratic nominee has been decided.
"You have to do what's best for the city," said Harrop, adding, "The picture of a convicted felon again running the city is difficult for me to envision."
Adrain lives in the city's Fox Point section with his wife, novelist Ann Hood. He is a managing director at the wealth management firm Ballentine Partners and has never held public office, although he was previously the chairman of the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education.
Steve Gerencser, an aide to Adrain, said the candidate had made the decision over the weekend and had not consulted with any other campaigns beforehand.
Cianci would not comment when asked about Adrain's stated reason for dropping out, but said he admired Adrain's past public service, and said he was sure he would have other opportunities to serve in the future.
"I admire his courage for entering the race to begin with. Everyone knows how tough it is to run for office," Cianci said.
Current Mayor Angel Taveras is running for governor as a Democrat.
The Democratic candidates include City Council President Michael Solomon, Democratic campaign operative Brett Smiley and law school professor and former judge Jorge Elorza.
Elorza said Adrain's decision showed foresight and selflessness and that the race "is too important for the people who wish to move Providence forward to remain divided."
Elorza spokesman John Taraborelli added that voters have a lot of good candidates from which to choose, and while that is a good thing in theory, it benefits Cianci to have a divided electorate.
Solomon wished Adrain well and commended him for his commitment to public service. Smiley said in a statement that he admires Adrain's character and selflessness, and looks forward to "working together to turn the page on corruption in Providence once and for all."