October 18, 2011

2010 Campaign Intrigue: John Loughlin (Yes, Loughlin) Was Asked To Step Aside for Frank Caprio

Monique Chartier

Avid followers of Rhode Island politics are aware that John Robitaille was approached by the Frank Caprio campaign - and, in due course, by a circumspect Frank Caprio himself - about dropping out of the 2010 gubernatorial race so as to avoid the four way race that ultimately got Linc Chafee elected. (Robitaille demurred and wound up finishing second, ahead of Caprio, leading some observers to wonder exactly who should have asked whom to drop out.)

It turns out, however, that the story didn't end there, as Republicans learned at last night's State Central meeting. In March of 2010, Gio Ciccione, then-Chair of the RIGOP, approached John Loughlin, who was running for the First RI Congressional District, and suggested that he step aside so that then-General Treasurer Frank Caprio could have a clear shot at running for the Congressional seat -- running for the seat as an (R), not the (D) that he was.

The guy who got this off his chest - he had hitherto been silent about the incident - was Mike Napolitano, now the manager of John Loughlin's bid for RI-1 next year. (Loughlin will face off against Brendan Doherty in a Republican primary.) Napolitano proffered the incident as an object lesson to close the Republican primary in the state, which was the thoroughly debated subject of last night's meeting.

(While this behind-the-scenes drama was not publicized at the time, its denouement was, naturally, well known: Loughlin declined the suggestion and stayed in the race.)

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Were they really so arrogant as to believe that we wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Robitaille and Caprio?

Posted by: helen at October 19, 2011 5:26 AM

Giovanni Ciccione is the picture of arrogance. I had high hopes that Brendon Doherty might just be the one to put an end to Cicciline, but the fact that he hired the absolute worst person in Rhode Island to run his campaign tells me he lacks judgment. He could win me, and many other Rhode Island Republicans over if he would simply fire Gio. That would take guts, and leadership and the willingness to admit he made an error in hiring him. We see if he has any of those qualities or if he’s just another political hack.

Posted by: Todd at October 19, 2011 6:40 AM

Why wasn't this brought up during the 2010 campaign by Mr. Loughlin or Mr. Robitaille? It just sounds like more rumor mongering intrigue and nastiness on the part of certain individuals.

Everyone's waiting for Loughlin, and I wish him a safe return. But his "people" are incapable of doing anything civil in his absence. Too bad, really, I thought better of him.

Posted by: B. Bateman at October 19, 2011 9:41 PM

For those of us who deal specifically with getting candidates elected we are wise enough during a campaign to not bring up such issues up as to take the focus off of the ball. The race and the candidate then become unimportant when this occurs. The importance now focused on the scandal. Case and point last gubernatorial race when the media was focused only on the Chafee vs Caprio battle and all the dirt that went with it.

As for B. Bateman's comment above, this individual should be very concerned about what has occurred in our party and elections, but instead gets in a dig about the current race. Which in essence shows you what we are up against.

The fact of the matter is that for decades we have had Democrats (particularly in our local elections) cross over in our primaries and take out our best candidates. My point here is that we have had Democrat influence within our party, and a few Republicans all too happy to let it occur. It is unfortunate but instead of focusing on the Republican candidates in one's own party for Governor and Congress in District 1, during the 2010 election cycle, the focus for some was to bring over Frank Caprio.

Several party insiders are well aware what occurred. In fact, at one point Caprio got so desperate he sent several Republican emissaries over to talk John Robitaille into getting out of the race. Then finally Caprio himself approached Robitaille. (Which made the news) This occurred well after the attempt was made to bring Caprio into the Republican party.

There are many of us, (specifically City and Town Chairs, working hard to improve our party and eliminate the influence by these individuals who act like this is a game of chess. We seek closing our primaries, elimination of the master lever and some other measures. We have been working on the primary issue for a few years now and will finally be allowed a vote on the matter.

Posted by: Michael Napolitano at October 20, 2011 6:03 AM

Great explanation,as many party insiders knew full well what was occuring. Yes, many answers are in the money, follow the money.

Those that chose to turn a blind eye have an agenda and this time it is for a candidate being funded by democrats and who has given to democrats. Otherwise they wouldn't so easily dissmiss this. This is not about one race, it is about making the Republican brand a stronger brand.

Posted by: Rhonda at October 20, 2011 7:47 AM

Typical of the more extreme social conservative elements within the RI Democratic Party.

Loughlin would have been a far more interesting opponent for Gov. Chafee than Mr. Caprio -- who I can't help but feel bad for, while also laughing (I hope he can now too) over "Shove-it-gate".

He never had a good spot staked out. Again, I'm shocked that Mr. Block didn't do better with him in the race... although Mr. Robitaille probably doesn't feel that way ;)

Posted by: jparis at October 20, 2011 5:41 PM


Caprio was a Hillary Clinton supporter along with many other high profile Democrats. Their checks did not get them what they wanted. His temper tantrum was due to pent up anger that they had backed the wrong candidate. We need Democrats like these like as the song goes a hole in the head.

Posted by: Phil at October 21, 2011 7:02 PM

Phil: Just to be clear, I actually just feel bad for the guy -- can't be fun to so massively mess up on the national stage, even for a couple of days.

That said, I hope he NEVER runs for office again.

I'd rather have Democrats like TPW than ones like him... and that's a *close* call.

Posted by: jparis at October 22, 2011 1:06 AM

Who's TPW ?

Posted by: Phil at October 22, 2011 3:13 PM

TPW = RI Senate President Theresa Paiva-Weed, Phil.

Posted by: Monique at October 22, 2011 8:06 PM

I consider myself a great Rhode Island political historian. The last two previous state chairs, have dubious historical distinctions. I certainly don't want to pick a fight with them but let the facts stand:
1. Gio was involved in the dropping out of Heidi Rogers after she won the Lt. Governor primary in 2010. Most certainly the only times perhaps in Rhode Island history since the party was formed they did not have a candidate for Lt. Governor or any General Office in a general election. The party started in the 1850s'.
We all know Bob Healey was approached but wanted GOP backing but not run as a Republican. Highly unusual and unorthodox for a high profile race. That happened very publicly.
2. During Patricia Morgan, the U.S. House seat, 2ND District was left vacant once, very certainly the only time, in R.I. GOP history.
Considering Gio Cicione conduct in the Lt. Governor's race, virtually anything is believeable.

Posted by: Scott Bill Hirst at October 25, 2011 5:52 PM

Correction/clarification: The Lt. Governor's seat was the only race in which there was no general office candidate on R.I. ballot in 2010,.

Posted by: Scott bill Hirst at October 25, 2011 5:56 PM
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