LAWRENCE – The field of potential candidates for mayor thinned to as few as seven yesterday when a Pentecostal minister who led an effort to recall Mayor William Lantigua last year said he may drop out and a media specialist who was runner-up to Lantigua in 2009 said he won’t run again.
Rev. Edwin Rodriguez said has been considering quitting the race since city firefighter Juan “Manny” Gonzalez joined it because he fears the two would split the city’s Puerto Rican vote and divide the loyalties of those who supported the recall effort, which Gonzalez also helped to lead.
He said he has collected 700 signatures on nominating petitions to get on the ballot in the Sept. 17 preliminary elections, which will send the two front-runners on to the Nov. 5 general election. A total of 250 valid signatures are needed. The deadline for submitting petitions is Tuesday.
“I have to make up my mind whether to surrender or not or just to leave Mr. Gonzalez to have his way,” Rodriguez said yesterday in an interview from Passaic, N.J., where he was tending to the business of his church, El Faro Universal. “This doesn’t mean I am endorsing him.”
David Abdoo, a media affairs specialist for the federal Department of Health and Human Services in Boston who lost to Lantigua by 1,024 votes four years ago, said in an e-mail that he won’t run again, but did not elaborate about why. Six candidates already have submitted nominating petitions with enough valid signatures to get on the ballot in the preliminary election. Besides Lantigua and Gonzalez, they are City Council Vice President Daniel Rivera, state Rep. Marcos Devers, accountant Nestor De Jesus and inventor James Patrick O’Donaghue.
Their nominating petitions suggest that at least two might match Lantigua’s get-out-the-vote operation, which is rooted in the petition drives. Election officials approved 1,355 signatures on Rivera’s petitions, nearly three times the 459 that Lantigua collected. Devers also outdid the mayor, with 593 signatures.