EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 20, 2013

Devers on-again, off-again support for Rivera is on-again

Claimed pledge to back any Lantigua opponent in mayoral race was 'off the cuff'

By Keith Eddings
keddings@eagletribune.com

---- — LAWRENCE — A state representative and three-time failed candidate for mayor who is known for his hot-and-cold support of Mayor William Lantigua now is going hot and cold on Daniel Rivera, the city councilor who this week won a spot on the ballot against Lantigua in November.

Marcos Devers pledged at a Sept. 9 candidates debate that he would support anyone but Lantigua in November if Lantigua were on the ballot then, which he will be after finishing first by a sizable margin in Tuesday’s preliminary election. Rivera came in second and so also will be on the November ballot.

Devers began back-pedaling from his pledge within an hour after the results were announced Tuesday night, when he came in a distant third. He said the pledge was off the cuff and informal and needed “further analysis.”

The analysis appeared to end yesterday when the Rivera campaign announced Devers would be joining the three other also-rans in the preliminary election at a press conference tonight, when they “will publicly announce their support for Rivera and their commitment to defeating incumbent Mayor William Lantigua in the November election.”

Contacted to confirm his support for Rivera, Devers would not. He said he was not aware that Rivera was publicly claiming his support but said he would be meeting with him later in the day to negotiate an endorsement.

“Let me sit down with these people, my friends,” Devers said about Rivera and his campaign staff an hour or so after Rivera issued the statement claiming Devers’ endorsement. “I didn’t know a press release went out. We’re planning to have a meeting and make an agreement. That’s it.”

Pressed about what he might ask for from Rivera in exchange for his support, Devers said, “I don’t have anything in mind. The first thing we want is better government. We want something better for the city.”

He would not rule out supporting Lantigua if his meeting with Rivera failed.

Devers apparently got the pledge for better government he was seeking.

At 7:30 last night, he announced he would endorse Rivera, joining all three of the other candidates who failed to make it through Tuesday’s preliminary election and giving Rivera the united front against Lantigua he sought.

“We had the meeting,” Devers said. “We’re going to be at the bridge tomorrow. I’ll be there and we’re going to make it official.”

The press conference is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the north end of the Casey Bridge over the Merrimack River at Canal and Amesbury streets.

“There’s no story there,” Rivera said about Devers’ wavering support. “All I’m saying is that tomorrow at 5:30, we’ll be squared away.”

The three other candidates who ran Tuesday have been more resolute in supporting Rivera. They are firefighter Juan “Manny” Gonzalez, inventor James O’Donoghue and accountant Nestor De Jesus.

“Having debated Danny, I learned what a great guy he is,” O’Donoghue said after the votes were counted Tuesday. “Any one of us would be a better mayor than Lantigua.”

Lantigua could not be reached yesterday.