Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Why Caprio lost

Like many in RI the results of the governor’s race has me upset. Frank Caprio, one of the few honest political leaders and a superb jurist, lost the race for governor after starting out with a strong lead in the polls. I and many who know Frank and the Caprios are in as much shock as the rest of the state. As with any loss by a prominent person many rumors are being kicked around as to why this loss occurred. Here I will sift through the reasons why, separating fact from fiction, for a unique perspective of one who knows the candidates and people involved, and was sought after by many in the race to work on their team.
The conclusion that Caprio’s “Shove it” remark was the killer is simply a convenient excuse. While some in RI were mad at him for that remark, nationally it made him a hero, for finally a prominent member of the Democratic party had the courage to stand up to those in the party who were giving it a bad reputation with their failed politics, namely those affiliated with the group acorn. Those who were at the Biltmore on election night will recall I had a confrontation with an acorn member in the mens room after he had broken a toilet, and others there present not only felt uncomfortable around acorn members present but experienced health problems as well, and I and others had arguments with many acorn members that night there as well. These are the same acorn punks who played a role in the 2010 races for providence mayor and 1st congressional district who backed linc chafee against Frank Caprio. While the “Shove it” may have caused short term hurt it was good in the long run for it builds momentum for the Democratic party to go after the rot and make itself stronger.
If anything a comment I had made to lincoln chafee at the RI state house on April 29, 2010 where I cussed him out in the Governor’s reception room when he approached me acting as if he didn’t recognize me. While my outburst may have been well deserved it prevented me from providing open assistance to the Caprio team for it would have provided any substance for any negative rumors spread by Caprio’s opponents, and Caprio’s family and friends agreed that I made a wise move by not openly campaigning for Frank Caprio after my outburst, as the negative attacks and rumors did enough damage as it was. Few even realize that the circumstances leading up to that particular incident were coincidental. The night before RI’s Mental Health Advocate had told me to meet him there on that date and time to handle an emergency situation that had arisen last night before, not notifying me of anything that was to go on at the RI state house beforehand. To make matters worse the event was being covered by wjar, who I had serious issues with after the ruined the life of someone close to me in 2008. Furthermore, several other candidates had asked for my involvement in their campaigns and followed me online as an information other than Caprio and Chafee, including Ken Block, Robert Healey, John Lombardi, Chris Young, and Kara Russo, which underscores the real reason for that incident not being political, but one personal stemming back to a dispute with brown university.
Despite the fact that Caprio used me as a source of information he didn’t always use the information and resources he had at hand, no matter who it was from. This was apparent in the debates and in responses to personal attacks from other candidates. For instance he did not relate his family’s experiences in immigrating to america early on in the campaign when discussing illegal immigrants in RI, thus losing the empathy of the larger latino/hispanic community which make that a major issue. When dealing with the lgbt community on the issue of same-sex marriage he stumbled there as well. When a lgbt goup pulled it’s support for his proposing that same-sex marriage be put to a voter initiave he could have drawn on the knowledge of the Judges of his father’s providence Municipal Court, who know that living conditions for married couples, be they straight or lgbt, are such that to get married in RI is to only make one’s living condition worse, hence the support of a popular vote. If anything during debates Frank Caprio seemed off on certain issues and in debates with more than four candidates let the independent candidates sound off on the tough issues. One example is how in July 2010 during a debate on health care Caprio said something nice about RI district court judge erickson, who had been profiled in the news recently. What Caprio forgot is that judge erickson’s policies of committing people into treatment programs only made lives worse for people by putting normal people into programs which caused health problems for them, putting a drain on the health care system, and which was responsible for causing prison overcrowding by imprisoning people who fought back against treatment. This lapse was noticed by linc chafee, who got erickson on his campaign team, and the only person in the mainstream media who picked up on this was former Providence mayor Cianci. Despite being a Harvard graduate he failed to discuss the programs Harvard has where poor people who have talent can use them to find work, and had he done so he would have struck a strong cord with many of his low income supporters.
This leads into another factor, out of all the leading candidates for Governor Caprio made himself hard to access. His campaign hq was in a location far away from a bus route, unlike chafee, robitaille, or Block, and despite his popularity he did not put a schedule of appearances like chafee and Block did. This made it difficult for many of his supporters, particularly independent voters who were big Caprio supporters could not get to his events, and many felt disappointed in not being able to get more personally involved. Just as bad was that his supporters were not always properly notified in advance of events, with the exception of the Bill Clinton visits. For instance Caprio supporters were not notified of the October 14, 2010 debate until hours before it occurred, thus preventing key supporters from attending. I know this as I revieved the e-mail notifying me of that debate only a few hours before when I was in Westerly, and I was too far away to make it there in time, and had I been there it is certain the tide of the debate would have went in his favor. If anyone doubts this ask those who attended the October 29, 2010 debate, they will remember that once I chimed in from the audience wjar’s people didn’t dare stop audience reactions. Overall, blame for this lapse of not connecting with the people in a more open manner must lay with his campaign staff.
Even worse were those endorsing Caprio when they were really causing problems for him. For instance the providence journal endorsed Caprio while it’s reporters made him look negative and gave prominent coverage to chafee, therefore making no positive endorsement. Another twofaced Caprio supporter was Alfred carpionato, who raised money for Caprio while making living conditions for some of his tenants difficult, even to the point of disenfranchising them from voting, thus attacking a potential source of votes for Caprio. Had Caprio addressed this he could have had a stronger support base.
If anything the media was strongly anti-Caprio, if not totally allowing every cheap shot to be made at Frank Caprio and his family, even tolerating racist attacks against him. The phoenix, golocalprov, wjar, and twitter were and continue to be at the forefront of these attacks, and even the providence journal continues with hardly anyone in the local mainstream media.
Overall, this 2010 loss for the Caprio’s is not their own fault, rather that of those around them who did not realize the resources they had at their disposal. If Frank Caprio wants to be Governor in 2014 he will need to surround himself with people who are sharp and in touch with the people and his supporters, open and covert, and will have to stand up to the rot in the Democrat party that is acorn which cost him the governor’s race and did to the Democrats in 2010 what the neocons did to the Republicans in 2006. After dreams never die, we just wake up, and Frank Caprio’s dream of becoming governor can still be made real.

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