Since the dust settled after the recent primaries, registered Rhode Island voters, like myself, have a really great opportunity to have a much, much better head of state than we currently have. Our two-term Republican governor Donald Carcieri is pretty homophobic and transphobic and many Rhode Islanders can't wait to see him leave office (how he got re-elected in 2006 is beyond me). Now Ocean Staters are faced with three gubernatorial candidates: Republican John Robitaille; Democrat Frank T. Caprio; and, independent Lincoln Chafee.
John Robitaille is the former communications director (i.e., gas bag) for Carcieri, so in my mind that in and of itself makes him unfit for running the state of Rhode Island. Except for being divorced, Robitaille is a typical GOPer; nuff said. Which leaves Lincoln Chafee, who is a former Republican U.S. senator who lost his re-election bid in 2006 to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, and Democrat Frank Caprio, who currently is our state treasurer.
At first blush it would seem that for any progressive, the obvious choice would be Caprio. Sure Chafee and Caprio have both said that they will not stand in the way (as Carieri would have) of the legalization of same-sex marriage if the state legislature puts that bill on the governor's desk (pop quiz: can you name the other New England places where same-sex marriage is not legal?). You won't find Caprio's I'm-for-same-sex-marriage stance on his own website, however. Instead, you'll find that he is a practicing Catholic (as are many, if not most, Rhode Islanders; it's the most Catholic state in the country) and that he believes what the church has taught him about marriage. That's not coded language for anything I'm sure. Still, Caprio is the Democratic party's candidate; and, he has the endorsement of Bill Clinton.
So, I was prepared--despite Caprio's television campaign ads that sound a bit Republican with their tax-cutting messages whereas Chafee's ads don't--to cast my ballot for Caprio. Until I learned this:
Rhode Island Democratic gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio, stung by President Obama's failure to support his campaign, said Tuesday [October 26th] he stands by his dismissive remark Monday when he said the president can take his endorsement and "really shove it."
"The White House wants to play politics," Caprio told NBC's "Today" show. ". . . It's the people living in the homes in Rhode Island right now, I want their endorsement."
His communicating to President Obama via talk radio that the president can take his endorsement and "shove it" begs the question: with such little regard for The Top Democrat and with such poor pre-election decorum, is Caprio really worthy of Rhode Islanders' votes? Caprio repeatedly claims to be a "different Democrat", but what we've learned from his "shove it Obama" statement is that he's coming across as the Blue Dog type of different Democrat, not the progressive type. The Providence Journal (sorry for no link on this) recently quoted a local college professor as saying that Caprio's anti-Obama statement lacks statemanship. She's putting it politely. Caprio also baselessly accused president Obama, who visited the state recently, of using Rhode Island as "an ATM machine." Hey, at least he didn't say that the black guy came to my tiny state and robbed the joint. Also, it's now coming out that Frank Caprio courted the GOP to be a possible GOP gubinatorial candidate! Again, this is not the kind of different Democrat I want in office.
Lincoln Chafee, who has long been a supporter of Barack Obama, but who does not have president Obama's endorsement (the president is endorsing no one for Rhode Island governor), continues to support our president, as is shown in his latest ad. Acting more like an independent when he was a Republican senator in DC, Chafee is now acting more like a Democrat than the Democratic nominee for governor.
Chafee: you have my vote. Caprio: learn some respect for your party and the Man In Charge.
The New York Daily News reported on October 31st, just two days before the election:
"I have had a lot of time to reflect on my words and I understand the criticisms," Caprio wrote in a statement Saturday [October 30th] afternoon, admitting "I wish I had chosen different language."
[Caprio] The 44-year-old Rhode Island native was leading the race by 12 points earlier this month, but is now fighting for last place....In an NBC 10/Quest Research poll, the first conducted since his remark, Caprio fell to third place with just 25% of voters saying they would choose him on Nov. 2.
Chafee leads with 35% while Robitaille is now polling in second place with 28%.
Sucks to be a fake Democrat, and then get caught at it right before election day.
BIG UPDATE #2 (November 3, 2010):
So, here's the results from the election (remember that mere weeks before the election Caprio had a double digit lead) with all 537 precincts reporting:
CHAFEE 123,398 (36.1%)
ROBITAILLE 114,761 (33.6%)
CAPRIO 78,776 (23.0)%
The remaining votes were split among a Moderate party candidate (Kenneth J. Block with 6.5%) and three Independents (Joseph M. Lusi, Todd Giroux, and Ronald Algieri).
These are the official numbers updated November 02, 2010 11:35 PM EST