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Jim Baron offers post-election musings

November 9, 2010

- Democrat Frank Caprio took the Democratic vote way too much for granted. Even before Patrick Lynch dropped out of the Democratic primary, Caprio was running to the right, trying to take away John Robitaille’s Republican votes. He was trying to run up the score. That’s the kind of overachiever he is. Mere victory wasn’t good enough for Caprio, he wanted a landslide, amassing votes of Republicans as well as Democrats. Instead, Chafee walked away with a huge share of the Democratic vote and Republicans decided to vote for the Republican rather than the Democrat trying to run as a Republican. And Caprio ended up with 23 percent of the vote. It’s the stuff of Greek tragedy – hubris and greed leading to a fall.
- I don’t buy all the boo-hoo about how the next governor won’t have a majority mandate. Independent Lincoln Chafee got more votes than any of the other candidates for governor and he wins. That’s how elections work. Run-off elections – pitting the top two vote getters against each other in a separate election a few weeks later -- would be good for politics junkies, and it would definitely mean more money for media outlets and plenty of work for reporters. But I don’t see how it would materially improve our politics or government. Sometimes life provides you with more than just two choices, and you pick the one you like.
- I put up with it throughout the entire primary and election campaigns, from every single candidate for every single office, every single day, but now, to quote the political philosopher Popeye, “that’s all I can stand, I can’t stands no more.” The next person who utters the words “small business” in my presence risks getting a punch in the nose.
- Republican John Loughlin, got off the best line of the election season when, during the Channel 12 debate, his opponent in the 1st Congressional District race, Democrat David Cicilline said, “I believe global climate change is real,” Loughlin shot back, “It’s not something you believe in. It’s not like the Easter Bunny.”
- Never underestimate Linc Chafee. If you don’t believe me, ask John Robitaille and Frank Caprio.
- And Steve Laffey, too, while you’re at it.
- If Rhode Island didn’t choose its governor by election, but instead picked the candidate who performed best in the debates, Ken Block would be this state’s next chief executive, hands down.
- No matter what you might have heard in campaign ads, Secretary of State Ralph Mollis is not the poster boy for this column.
- Caprio’s last-minute attempt to backtrack on his “shove it” comment was a textbook example of too little, too late, especially after all those times he insisted “I stand by my words.”
- The best campaign slogan of this election came from the successful candidate for attorney general: “For Peter Kilmartin, protecting families isn’t a campaign slogan; it’s a way of life.” Now that’s a campaign slogan.
- But Chafee’s “Tell the truth and trust the people” seemed to resonate with voters in this anti-politician year.
- By far the worst campaign ads of this election season were the radio spots for Republican candidate for Treasurer Kerry King, which purposely mispronounced the name of his Democratic opponent, Gina Raimondo, repeatedly calling her “Ri-a-mundo,” making her Italian surname sound vaguely Hispanic.
- Republican candidate for governor John Robitaille may have been giving away his age a little bit in the debates. Whenever Block would talk about big savings achieved in Texas or California, he would say “California is the Titanic; we’re the S.S. Minnow.” I always found myself wondering how many people would remember that the S.S. Minnow was the boat that shipwrecked to leave the castaways stranded on Gilligan’s Island.
- For all the hoopla about the Republican Party’s “multi-partisan” Clean Slate effort, only three Democratic House members lost on Tuesday – Reps. Amy Rice of Newport, Ken Carter of North Kingston and Scott Pollard of Coventry – and one in the Senate, Sen. Charles Levesque of Portsmouth, although in Cumberland Republican Bethany Moura won the open seat vacated by Senate Majority Leader Dan Connors.
- This country will get an effective clean energy policy as soon as Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate figure out a way to get the sun and the wind to pony up big campaign contributions the way the oil and gas companies do now.
- Frank Caprio Sr. didn’t do his son any favors during the election campaign, playing right into Chafee’s hand of battling cronyism.
- With Rhode Island in such sorry shape, how do the same people get elected to the same offices over and over again? Forty-nine percent turnout, that’s how. As long as it is the same people going out to vote every election, the same candidates are going to keep getting elected. It’s not rocket science.
- John Robitaille won just about every community in Northern Rhode Island, and in most cases, it wasn’t even close. He won by about 18 percent in North Smithfield; 15 percent in Cumberland; more than 14 percent in Burrillville and more than 7 percent in Woonsocket. Pawtucket was the only NRI city Chafee won. Caprio only won three municipalities in the whole state – Central Falls, North Providence and Johnston.
- It looks like the tsunami missed us this time.
- Something tells me we haven’t heard the last of Catherine Taylor, the Republican newcomer who came out of nowhere to nearly unseat the incumbent secretary of state, Ralph Mollis, losing by just 1.2 percent of the vote.
- I also have a hunch that Loughlin will be back, as well.
- It’s hard to figure out who hurt President Barack Obama the most in this midterm election – the right, which came out in droves because they wanted to punish him for being too radical on the left, or the left, which stayed home in droves because they wanted to punish him for being too much in the center.
- If I were Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts, I would keep a close eye on General Treasurer Gina Raimondo for the next four years. If Raimondo does good work with the pension fund and other RI finances, she could be giving Roberts a run in the battle to be the Ocean State’s first female governor in 2014.
- Loughlin had the same problem this election that Lincoln Chafee did four years ago. People liked him, thought he had some good ideas, but Rhode Island voters just could not bring themselves to send another Republican to Congress. Loughlin wasn’t helped by those ads that showed his opponent, Cicilline, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which was supposed to scare voters. This is Rhode Island, if voters here had their choice, they would vote for Pelosi as Speaker. It was the idea of Loughlin going down to Washington to help elect John Boehner Speaker that spooked voters here.
- Lincoln Chafee getting elected governor, on the platform of a tax increase, after he lost the Senate seat made me think of his father, the late John Chafee. John Chafee lost a race for governor when he proposed an income tax and was appointed Secretary of the Navy by then-President Richard Nixon. Then Nixon, being Nixon, made Chafee move the Navy out of Newport, absolutely devastating the economy of his home state. Nonetheless, Rhode Islanders still forgave the elder Chafee and elected him to the U.S. Senate a few years later, where he stayed for nearly a quarter century until, upon his death, he was succeeded by his son Linc.
- We’re already six days into the 2012 presidential election campaign.

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