I saw this bumper sticker over Labor Day weekend in downtown Providence, in my former home State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. My wife had seen one on a different car a couple of days earlier.

Former Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci has been covered here before regarding his conviction under the Racketeer Influenced  and Corrupt Organizations Act.

In his first act as Mayor of Providence, Buddy resigned in 1984 after being convicted of assaulting his wife’s alleged paramour with a fire log and lit cigarette.  (Seriously.)

Buddy had a comeback but in 2002 was convicted of running a criminal enterprise, namely, Providence City Hall. Cianci was found not guilty of 26 specific criminal charges. The only charge on which he was convicted was RICO conspiracy.

Buddy has been out of federal prison for several years, and has a very successful radio show.  He is still adored by many, regardless of his legal problems.  He is a natural retail politician.

Politics is in Buddy’s soul, and he’s running for Mayor again as an Independent:

Dan McGowan, an experienced local reporter, has a lengthy column about Buddy’s campaign at Politico, The Buddy Cianci Show:

Just about everyone in Providence is well aware of both Cianci’s indiscretions and his accomplishments. He resigned as mayor following felony convictions not once but twice—first in 1984, for assaulting his ex-wife’s lover, and then in 2002, for running City Hall like a criminal enterprise, for which he served more than four years in prison. But Providence is very much still Buddy’s town: Having led it for parts of the past four decades, between 1975 and 2002, Cianci has undeniably left his fingerprints all over this city—from the massive shopping mall he pushed for as mayor, and that he now claims brought retail back to Providence in the span of a generation, to a government-funded project that literally moved rivers to make way for a more vibrant downtown. By the 1990s, Providence had even become the setting of a primetime NBC drama named for the city. Naturally, Cianci, who lives for being in the spotlight, played himself….

…. though he may be 40 pounds lighter than he was in City Hall and no longer sports the famous toupee he refers to today as “the squirrel,” Cianci hasn’t lost a step. And so far, his comeback seems to be no joke. Although no public polling has been done on the race, Joseph Fleming, one of Rhode Island’s top political pollsters, tells me, “You can never count Buddy out. He can absolutely win the race.”

Buddy is an amazing politician.

Prior to the federal conviction, he lived in the Penthouse at The Providence Biltmore. My daughter’s Bat Mitzah was held there, and Buddy was in the lobby shaking hands and generally being The Prince of Providence.

McGowan notes that Buddy’s amazing retail politics hasn’t changed, and neither has his political instincts:

Cianci’s opponents, too, have felt the wrath of his sharp tongue. He spent the months leading up to his on-air announcement labeling Solomon a deadbeat for failing to pay back a taxpayer-backed loan that Solomon and some business partners received in 1987. Before dropping out of the race, Smiley challenged Cianci to a debate on good government. Cianci accepted under the condition that the forum be held at a strip club once owned by the candidate’s deceased father-in-law.

He can win. He absolutely can win.

And that would not be a bad thing for Providence, which has been in a funk since Buddy went to the Big House.