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Cranston mayoral race enters the stretch

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Marion Davis writes about the competition -- which will result in either Cranston's first female mayor or Rhode Island's first Asian-American mayor -- in this week's Phoenix.

Allan W. Fung chose to support Stephen J. Laffey, and it paid off. His well-organized political machine — complete with color-coordinated blue and yellow signs — helped Fung win an at-large seat on the City Council and reelection two years later.

As Laffey’s strongest backer on the council, Fung also benefited from the mayor’s popularity and clout. When Laffey decided to run for US Senate, Fung was his natural suc-cessor.

Cynthia M. Fogarty, on the other hand, was a vocal critic of Laffey, especially of his fights with labor and with the schools. Like Fung, she was in a high-profile position to run for mayor in 2006. But while Fung got his party’s backing, the Democratic machine overwhelmingly preferred Fogarty’s rival, Michael T. Napolitano, a former municipal court judge. He beat her resoundingly in a primary, and went on to beat Fung — but by only 79 votes.

Now there’s a rematch, but the drama is gone. Laffey is nowhere in sight, and the only vestige of his political powerhouse is Fung’s blue and yellow campaign color scheme.

Both candidates are generally well-liked, but Fung — who is on leave from his job as a lobbyist for MetLife Auto & Home — is widely viewed as the frontrunner, both because he came so close once before, and because he’s been raising money and campaigning since the last election.

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