Lantigua plots a comeback

Big-name Democrats abandoned William Lantigua last fall, as the then-mayor of Lawrence battled for his political life. Now, as Lantigua lays the groundwork for a possible political comeback, he has returned the favor and severed his ties to the Democratic Party.

The Eagle-Tribune reports today that Lantigua has dropped his Democratic voter enrollment in favor of an unenrolled status — a move the paper sees as the first step toward a run for his old state rep seat. By running as an independent, Lantigua would bypass a September Democratic primary, and put himself on the ballot in November.

Lantigua lost to Daniel Rivera by 83 votes in last fall’s mayoral election.

Lantigua’s former House seat is now held by Marcos Devers, who lost two prior clashes with Lantigua over the seat, and who placed third in last year’s Lawrence mayoral primary. The seat was a source of controversy for Lantigua, before a string of federal and state corruption investigations cast a darker set of clouds over Lantigua’s troubled administration. Lantigua initially tried to hold on to the seat after his 2009 mayoral victory. He resigned the seat only after state lawmakers threatened to withhold a financial rescue package for the city.

CommonWealth reported last fall that Devers partisans feared their candidate’s opposition to Lantigua in Lawrence’s recent mayoral election would earn him retribution, in the form of a Lantigua-backed opponent. It now looks like that opponent will be Lantigua himself.

“He hasn’t told me for sure he’s going to do it, but he’s told me he’s considering the possibility,” Lantigua ally Alfonso Garcia tells the Eagle-Tribune. “Everyone in the 16th District that supported him for mayor is going to support him for whatever he wants to do.”

A number of prominent Democrats broke with Lantigua last fall. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Niki Tsongas endorsed Rivera. Roger Lau, one of Warren’s top aides, and John Walsh, the former state Democratic boss and a top adviser to Gov. Deval Patrick, aided Rivera’s campaign when Lantigua launched a recount effort in November. Democratic leadership was largely behind Lantigua’s forced march from Beacon Hill in 2010. Now, as a pair of former aides face corruption trials, and a federal grand jury investigates a botched $800,000 election-season road paving spree that Lantigua personally oversaw, Lantigua is jettisoning his party ties, and striking out on his own. And the soap opera that surrounds everything Lantigua says and does plays on.



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