A candidate for the Rhode Island Legislature has gotten an unusual endorsement — from the mayor of Fallujah, Iraq, praising him as that city's "favorite USA colonel."

Republican James Haldeman, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel, had re-entered the Marine Corps to go to Iraq, where he ran a civil-military operations center last year in Fallujah. He oversaw the reconstruction of schools, a power plant, water treatment plant and other facilities.

Now back in military retirement, the American Airlines pilot is running for the seat held by Democratic state Rep. John Patrick Shanley Jr.

The endorsement from Mayor Dhari Abdul Hadi al-Irssan describes Haldeman, 50, as Fallujah's "favorite USA colonel." Haldeman's translator in Iraq forwarded the endorsement to him by e-mail, said Chuck Newton, spokesman for the Rhode Island GOP.

According to Newton, Al-Irssan said he would support Haldeman for president if he chose to run.

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