PROVIDENCE — Joe Fernandez, a former city solicitor in Providence who ran unsuccessfully for state attorney general this year, died Saturday. He was 46.
Mr. Fernandez died at The Miriam Hospital following a short illness, said Dan Herkert, who managed his campaign. Herkert said he did not have details on the nature of Mr. Fernandez’s illness.
A Democrat, Mr. Fernandez worked in New York City and Providence as a business lawyer and litigator before being appointed city solicitor in 2003 by Mayor David Cicilline. He left the post last year to run for office.
Mr. Fernandez, a Brown University alumnus and a 1991 graduate of Harvard Law School, cochaired Harvard classmate Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in Rhode Island in 2008.
In a statement released by the White House, Obama called Mr. Fernandez a “dedicated public servant’’ who “lived the American dream.’’ The president said he was “shocked and saddened’’ by the death of his friend.
A Pennsylvania native whose parents immigrated from the Philippines, Mr. Fernandez portrayed himself as an outsider making his first run for office during his campaign, saying he wasn’t beholden to anyone.
Although he led his opponents in fund-raising in the three-way primary, Mr. Fernandez lost to state Representative Peter Kilmartin, who went on to win the November general election. “Joe Fernandez was a dedicated and professional public servant,’’ said Brett Broesder, a spokesman for Kilmartin.
Herkert said he met Mr. Fernandez through a professional network of consultants and friends and joined his campaign two weeks later, adding that Mr. Fernandez impressed him as someone who “has no ego and is doing it for all the right reasons, because he actually wants to accomplish something.’’
Although Herkert said the two of them never specifically discussed Mr. Fernandez’s future after his primary loss, “there was no question he wanted to stay active in public life.’’
Cicilline called Mr. Fernandez “an outstanding lawyer with a sharp legal mind.’’
“Guided by a strong moral compass and deep commitment to public service, Joe led by example and earned the great respect of his colleagues and peers as a strong leader,’’ Cicilline said in a statement.
Cicilline’s successor, Mayor-elect Angel Taveras, posted a statement calling Mr. Fernandez’s death a “very sad day for all of Rhode Island.’’
Mr. Fernandez leaves his wife, Emily Maranjian, and two children.