February 1, 2010

Caprio Switching to GOP (with coattails)?

Marc Comtois

Former Steve Laffey campaign manager John Dodenhoff (he ran Laffey's Senate campaign in 2006) was on the Dan Yorke Show to explain that he ate lunch last week with Michael Lepizzera (former Laffey campaign member, now affiliated with Frank Caprio) who put forward an idea of having Frank Caprio run as a Republican so long as Steve Laffey stayed out of the 2010 Governor's race. According to Dodenhoff, Lepizzera confirmed that Caprio was "on board with this [the idea]."

The aim would be to, obviously, help Caprio by avoiding a primary, but the proposition was that it would also to help "save" the RI GOP and bring the disparate groups of the party together. It was also revealed that, apparently, some current Democratic State Representatives would also be interested in shifting to the GOP along with Caprio, including Caprio's brother, State Rep. David Caprio.

Dodenhoff's explained to Yorke that his incentive for revealing this meeting was to expose what he believes is a non-starter for rehabilitating the GOP party. Further, he wants to prevent local (city and town) GOP leaders from getting "sand-bagged" into thinking this is a viable way to grow the RI GOP.

Conspiracy, conspiracy everywhere.....

UPDATE: According to WPRO's Carolyn Cronin, the Caprio Campaign has issued a statement that "He [the Treasurer] has authorized no such conversation."

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That's a good yarn.
First off, the social right element of the GOP won't buy, given Caprio's moderate positions on abortion and gay marriage.
Second, how do me know some of the Dems involved in the deal aren't the ones who helped create Rhode Island's fiscal problems in the first place?
Third, does anyone trust Laffey to live up to his end of ANY deal?

Posted by: rhody at February 1, 2010 3:39 PM

The cold hard reality of this story is this. Don't hold even a brief private conversation with anyone associated with Steve Laffey unless you want that conversation "spun" front and center in the media. Much like their megalomaniacal idol, Laffey supporters are not to be trusted on any level. Caprio supporters should take this as a lesson learned moment.

Posted by: Tim at February 1, 2010 3:51 PM

I thought that Laffey had been pretty clear that he would not be running for governor (to my disappointment), but the speculation just won't end: http://www.abc6.com/news/82962082.html

How would it promote party unity for the GOP bigwigs to "clear the field" so that a socially liberal Democrat ran for governor as a Republican?

Posted by: AuH2ORepublican at February 1, 2010 3:53 PM

I'm torn. Personally, I wouldn't have a problem with Caprio moving over to the GOP ticket. However, that would surely reduce the possibility of a Laffey run, who would be my first choice.

So, if Caprio steps across the aisle and thereby upends a Laffey run, is that a political plus for Caprio in the long run?

Posted by: ben at February 1, 2010 3:56 PM

the obvious solution -- Laffey - Caprio ticket -- nice bipartisan flavor that would leave lynch out in the cold

Posted by: oj at February 1, 2010 4:03 PM

@rhody & @Tim - amen to that. Laffey and his troll (I'll use the singular here since so many of his loyal, hardworking supporters desserted him after Laffey showed them what he was made of) are just baiting the conservatives to no end. I think Laffey wants a coronation, not an election!

Posted by: FedUpToHere at February 1, 2010 4:08 PM

Marc - thanks for summarizing the outcome as that conversation was hard to follow. Maybe it's just that I've had my fill of Laffey-esque doublespeak.

Posted by: Golem at February 1, 2010 4:11 PM

Caprio's problem is that he can't get by a Democratic primary. Dems (unions, gays et al) in their primary usually gravitate toward the loony left, Pat Lynch, Myrth York etc.
Pat Lynch in a statewide election is much weaker than in the primary because he's nothing more than a horny 15 yr old with a weak record as AG. Caprio is stronger statewide and is trying to figure out a way to get to a statewide election.

Posted by: Tim at February 1, 2010 4:21 PM

I dont put much into this story. It seems a little late for a candidate such as caprio to up and switch parties, given the staff hes hired and the work they already have done. Its amazing/funny how the trolls come out when a story like this gets posted. Can't wait to see what happens when the election gets closer.

Posted by: steadman at February 1, 2010 4:49 PM

They say that in academe the politics are so vicious because the stakes are so small.

Who would believe that a state as small as Rhode Island would have such a huge soap opera?

Posted by: BobN at February 1, 2010 5:12 PM

"it would also to help "save" the RI GOP and bring the disparate groups of the party together."

Wait, do I have this right? The RIGOP is a total mess right now and the answer is for a lifelong Democrat to switch sides and that will right the ship and bring normalcy to the GOP.

Have we now seen everything?

Posted by: Patrick at February 1, 2010 5:37 PM

"he aim would be to, obviously, help Caprio by avoiding a primary"

Another question. Has John Robitaille dropped out? How else does Caprio avoid a primary in the GOP?

Personally, I don't want anyone with a chance of winning running with the GOP. I want a Democratic Gov. I want as progressive a Gov as possible. So not even Caprio. I don't want any more excuses from the left on why this state is in shambles. True left Dem Gov and left Assembly. No more excuses, then in 2012 and 2014, we can begin throwing out the trash.

Posted by: Patrick at February 1, 2010 5:53 PM

"throwing out the trash" - is that a thinly veiled threat of a Stalinist purge?

If you get your wish you'll have to throw out the trash because every one who produces for a living and pays for those progressive programs will have moved to somewhere in the United States of America.

Posted by: BobN at February 1, 2010 6:15 PM

Caprio doesn't have to worry about running against Robitaille in a GOP primary for any one of thse three reasons:

1. There's an implicit assumption that Robitaille would drop out sometime before the June filing deadline.

2. Robitaille will get horribly outspent.

3. Because independents and some Democrats would have an incentive to vote for Caprio, they would cross over in huge numbers to elect Caprio in an "open" primary, swamping the GOP vote.

PS There are very specific reasons for Caprio to consider such an out of the box options, least of which are what we know about the state of his polling ... trust me, there's been a lot of polling. A "Caprio as Republican" option only works in the absence of a real or competitive Republican primary (obviously, minus a big name like Laffey), and obviously works best with an "open" GOP primary scenario. If Caprio were to run as a Republican, he'd have to make that official decision before the end of March.

In addition to the lunch meeting which John Dodenhoff revealed on the air today, a very good friend of mine, who happens to be a local journalist, had lunch with a very high ranking Caprio staffer (and it wasn't Mike) just within the last week, and said to my journalistic friend, I quote: "Considering the state of the Republican Party right now, could someone who is willing to spend a lot of money just walk into it [the GOP primary] and take it [buy the nomination]? There's nothing about "saving the Republican Party" there, is there?

My friend assumed that the Caprio person was referring to Laffey. It never occurred to him until we spoke again earlier today that it was actually Caprio that they were talking about. When I heard about the meeting with Dodenhoff and the Caprio rep, that only served to reinforce what was happening in my mind. Caprio will do what he thinks needs to be done in order to win ... he's a chameleon.

Keep in mind that the people who decide who the Democratic nominee will be tend to skew far left compared to the general electorate (the same people who kept giving us Myrth York), and that registered Democrats in RI only account for about 1/3 of the vote, meaning that 2/3s of the vote are unaffiliated or Republicans.

One can easily win the Dem primary and lose the general election. But for the election of Bruce Sundlun, that's actually the main reason why the governorship has remained in GOP hands since the early 1980s. The Dems have a history of nominating leftists who go down in flames in the general election. Let's hope that trend continues.

PPS I've never heard of an "authorized" trial balloon.

Posted by: Will at February 1, 2010 6:51 PM


Are you endorsing this idea?

Posted by: tcc3 at February 1, 2010 8:28 PM

I am definitely not endorsing the idea of Caprio running in the RIGOP primary. If anything, by bringing this out to the public now, we are trying to ensure as best we can that it does not occur! We've had enough of RINOs, so we certainly don't need to import DINOs!

The timing is not a coincidence on several different levels. Caprio would have to do a party switch by the end of March (90 days before the filing deadline). In addition, the party switching plan would require an open primary to succeed. The deadline for changing the rules regarding "closing" the primary is roughly March 15th (180 days before the primary), so that decision would need to be made by Caprio between March 15th and March 31st. In order to potentially sway RIGOP people into accepting this, the only upcoming opportunity to do it is on February 9th, which is the only presently scheduled RIGOP meeting until well into April.

PS My reporter friend, who has read my above post, has asked me to make an important clarification, with which I am happy to oblidge:

The Caprio person I referenced is not a not a current "staffer" (i.e. he is not paid by the Caprio campaign). He is a well-connected longtime friend of Frank and the other Caprio's, but who does not receive payment by them. However, he is definitely onboard Team Caprio. We just didn't want people searching through campaign finance reports looking for specific employees or consultants. It is definitely not Mike Lepizzera. However, because it was not Mike, we know that the same basic idea was floated to two different GOP people by two different Caprio-affliated folks within only a day of each other. It is too similar to merely be a coincidence.

Posted by: Will at February 1, 2010 9:30 PM

As life long republican a couple of comments.. the Idea that a state wide DEM with a track recored of winning , who was fiscally responsible, would even want to join our party after the mess we have made of it would be a shock. we are so caught up in our own world. like Caprio and other like minded dems shouldnt be welcome if the wanted to come . Hell we should welcome them with open arms. But of course we wouldnt and they would be dumb enough to come. We will infight as usual and get nothing done .. we are as much to blame as the left wing liberal nuts.. for whats wrong with RI.. In our case we have been out of power so long we dont know how to win races foster real change .. we just yell alot and make ourself sfeel good. if fiscally responsible dems wanted to join us because they were being pushed out of there own party bye the wacky left we should WELCOME THEM.can u image what would actully happen if we stole like minded dems and got them to come over .. the liberal left would go nuts. we might actually be able to block veto over rides and effect the budget. but I am wishfull, i fear the self important leaders of our party ( who have gotten us into this sorry state) would find reasons to scuttle some thing so smart. frustrated republican

Posted by: frustrated at February 2, 2010 12:09 AM

wasnt ronald REAGAN once a dem who changed parties?... just a thought for us all..

Posted by: frustrated at February 2, 2010 12:12 AM

"Frustrated" sounds very much like someone I know and I wish him well with his work. We agree on the need of electing more Republicans in the General Assembly. We even agree that there are Dems in the GA that would make good Republicans. However, I'm not willing to have the GOP primary be bought off, especially so cheaply.

Caprio's "track record of winning" has been against grossly underfinanced nobodys. He comes from a well-known RI political family and has some money. He also has the personality of cardboard, but I digress. To my knowledge, he's never even run in a Dem primary. You could make Jeopardy questions out of "Who have Frank Caprio's election opponents been?" I'm pretty knowledgeable, but I can only name one of them, and that's simply because he's a friend of mine.

There's certainly an impression made by some that Caprio is "fiscally responsible." Some of us disagree. Is he as bad as some openly more "progressive" people in the General Assembly? Of course not, but he's made some pretty stupid votes over the years. I also don't think the man has any core principles. He'll tell a group like RISC one thing that sounds great, and contradict himself a day later at some liberal event. Think Clinton. I think a lot of that will come out as the campaign season unfolds. The problem with Caprio is that he basically would preserve the status quo. As Reagan once said, "status quo" is Latin for the mess we're in. We need a real game changer.

"would even want to join our party after the mess we have made of it would be a shock."

Yes, unless you're billing yourself as someone coming from outside the party who's "generously" willing to pick up the pieces and rebuild it from scratch. Much like a greenback, the RIGOP has no intrinsic value. However, the "worth" of the RIGOP is the ability to get people on the ballot, and in at least so much as the governorship is concerned, to actually get them elected.

Posted by: Will at February 2, 2010 12:49 AM

Will just made my point... we get the politcial leaders we deseerve so the saying goes. i will add we republicans get the party we deserve. ego manics that are into self agrandiesment .. and others who can find only reasons to do the same things we have always done and lost.. for these reasons as i said people like WILL will find resaons not to do some thing .. and the liberal dems will keep there stangle hold on this state.. They are stuck in the past and thats all they know... bye they i mean the so called leaders of this party who are more concerned with who is chairman and open or closed primarys while the state goes to hell...

Posted by: frustrated at February 2, 2010 7:31 AM

"He [the Treasurer] has authorized no such conversation."

Hmm. He didn't authorize it but Carolyn didn't report back with Caprio saying "It is not true." So he didn't authorize it, but he's not saying that he's sticking with the Democrats, he not saying that he will not switch. Very interesting.

Posted by: Patrick at February 2, 2010 8:12 AM

If "frustrated" is who we think he is, it's pretty obvious he's using an fake name because he is not only aware of the plan to help Caprio, but he's probably part of it.

Posted by: George at February 2, 2010 9:03 AM

What if Laffey says "no" and means it and Lynch takes the Democratic primary?

That means we would have a.) lynch or b.) chafee to look forward to for the next four years.

Not something I want to go to bed and dream about. Mr. Caprio: I said above that I'm torn, because my first choice would be Laffey. But if you want the Republican nomination, I'll be there knocking on doors for you.

Posted by: ben at February 2, 2010 11:44 AM

George, It's so easy for people like frustrated to lash out at others who are actually trying to do things. He's just one more crab in a basket pulling everyone else down while trying to get out himself. Ultimately no one gets out and nothing gets done.

Posted by: bobc at February 2, 2010 11:52 AM

"That means we would have a.) lynch or b.) chafee to look forward to for the next four years."

Hooray!! Go Lynchie!

Posted by: Patrick at February 2, 2010 11:56 AM

Here are my thoughts. This is just a big set up. Sometime after New Years when I heard someone say The Governor would back Caprio I thought well someone has it wrong. Then when I heard that Gio is refusing to close the primary’s and the Governor is backing him up and then not I thought well this does not make sense. Then when I see Laffey jumping in and out (not really) and showing his great plan but saying “You guys don’t want me” and also saying he likes and is a friend of Caprio I thought well that’s nice. Then when I heard that Caprio might switch party’s it all made sense to me and I got to tell you it’s an outrage. This posturing and these political games is just the thing RI does not need. This is taking an election right out of the hands of the voters the machine will choose the Governor and all the people are being directed. Will the Laffey support be tossed over to Caprio.I think the voters have been duped and its tragic and if I hear one more person say “that’s RI politics” I am moving to NH and I will watch This state turn into Detroit as Laffey says from there. I thought people wanted to change the way things are done around here. Oh well that’s just my opinion I could be wrong

Posted by: Steve at February 2, 2010 12:05 PM

We are owned by private political organizations. What choices do we truly have?

Posted by: helen at February 3, 2010 1:00 AM

If Steve Laffey does not run, then Caprio has my support and vote, as a DEM or a REP.

Please run Steve!

Posted by: PUBLIUS at February 4, 2010 5:16 AM
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