updated 7/10/2006 11:00:53 AM ET 2006-07-10T15:00:53

A candidate for the Rhode Island legislature received an unusual endorsement - from the mayor of Fallujah, Iraq.

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Republican James Haldeman, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel, worked in Iraq last year from March until October. He ran the civil military operations center in Fallujah, overseeing reconstruction of water-treatment and power plants, schools and other facilities.

Haldeman, 50, a pilot for American Airlines, came out of military retirement to go to Iraq. He is running for the seat held by state Rep. John Patrick Shanley Jr., D-South Kingstown.

The endorsement letter from Mayor Dhari Abdul Hadi al-Irssan describes Haldeman as Fallujah's "favorite USA colonel." Al-Irssan said he would support Haldeman for president if he chose to run for that post as well.

"As flattered as I am," Haldeman said. "I think that to serve in (House) District 35 will be plenty for me right now.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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