By Dan McGowan
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Former State Police superintendent and congressional candidate Brendan Doherty on Friday said he has no plans to run for statewide office in 2014, likely clearing a path for Cranston Mayor Allan Fung to run unopposed in a Republican primary for governor next year.
“While I appreciate the outpouring of support and willingness of many to support me in a potential campaign for governor, after a long race for Congress and a longer career serving Rhode Island in the State Police, I am looking forward to spending time with my family, while continuing to make Rhode Island a better place through my work with charitable organizations, youth outreach, and other non-political endeavors,” Doherty said in prepared statement.
Doherty was handily defeated by incumbent Democratic Congressman David Cicilline last November after a contentious race that saw the Republican go from holding a double-digit lead in the polls to a 12-point loss on Election Night.
Despite the loss, Doherty posted a 45% favorability rating among Rhode Island voters, according to Public Policy Polling data released in January. The same poll showed the Republican trailing Democratic Treasurer Gina Raimondo by four percentage points and leading Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, another Democrat, by five percentage points in a hypothetical governor’s race. Every scenario polled showed Doherty in front of incumbent Independent Gov. Lincoln Chafee.
In his statement, Doherty said he plans to remain in the private sector as a consultant for the Asset Protection Group, a New Jersey-based security firm founded by David Kelly, a former Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. The company has offices in Rhode Island and Connecticut.
Doherty’s decision to skip the race likely paves the way for Fung to avoid a costly Republican primary and focus on a general election race that will potentially include incumbent Chafee, Raimondo or Taveras and Moderate Party Chairman Ken Block.
Fung, who had $161,000 in his campaign account as March 31, has not officially announced his plans to run for governor, but the popular Cranston mayor has hired former Republican Party executive director Patrick Sweeney as a campaign consultant. He is expected to make a formal announcement later this year.
Dan McGowan ( email@example.com ) covers politics and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Twitter: @danmcgowan