The clock is ticking down rapidly to the September 9 primary where Democrats will have to choose between Seth Magaziner and Frank Caprio as the Democratic candidate for General Treasurer. Polling shows Seth’s public support has jetted ahead to take a 12 point lead over Frank Caprio in the final days. This is a huge shift from the 18 point lead Caprio held over Magaziner in June – a 30-point swing!
It’s pretty easy to understand why this surge happened. One factor was the decision by the third contender, Ernie Almonte, to run not as a Democrat, but rather as an independent with the Republican Party’s tacit endorsement. That was probably a wise move for Almonte, after video emerged showing him promoting right-wing views on issues like Social Security, Medicare and tax cuts for the rich.
It looks like Magaziner picked up all of Almonte’s supporters and then some. Frank Caprio is stuck with his core constituency of very conservative Democrats and party regulars loyal to his father, Judge Frank Caprio.
It also didn’t help that his brother David, a former Narragansett/South Kingstown state Representative, to be revealed as a player and partner with Rep. Peter Palumbo in a sleazy deal to get the state’s big beach concession contract. In what looks like blatant bid-rigging, David Caprio filed the second best bid behind Rep. Palumbo to run the concessions at state beaches.
Once Palumbo won the bid, he withdrew, so the state awarded the contract to David Caprio. Then, Caprio hires Palumbo to actually perform the contract, but at a loss of $250,000 to the taxpayers. The State Police are investigating and the state Ethics Commission is going after Rep. Palumbo because, as a state legislator, he is forbidden from bidding for, or carrying out, state contracts. David Caprio, for his part, resigned as Democratic State Party Chair. He has apparently not resigned from the RI Judiciary Disciplinary Board where he oversees the conduct of all Rhode Island lawyers, including his father and his brother Frank.
As a Democratic State Committee member over the past several election cycles, I saw David Caprio’s only achievement as state party chair was to grease the wheels and whip the vote to get the state party regulars to endorse his brother Frank.
Other than that, David Caprio was practically invisible. Statements by Republicans, no matter how outrageous, remained unanswered. Former state party chair Ed Pacheco had us spoiled – he never let the GOP get away with attacks without a fast and furious response.
The excuse given for David Caprio’s very rare appearances was that he was too busy doing party fund-raising. At least that was the excuse when party members would ask why they never saw him around. However, the campaign finance reports filed by the state party show that Caprio raised virtually no money. The party’s primary sources of funds were contributions of $3500 from most of the candidates for state office. The party reports show that even with a depleted staff, they were running close to the bone.
This unseemliness was enough to shake the faith of even the most loyal party regulars, questioning where the Caprio family was leading them this time.
No resume, no second chance
Lacking any message other than ‘give me another chance,’ Frank Caprio has rolled out negative TV ads challenging Seth Magaziner’s résumé. Caprio’s attacks twisted the facts beyond recognition, as Magaziner’s former boss made clear, Caprio’s attacks on Seth’s résumé only make you want to take another look at Frank Caprio’s own résumé:
- When Frank Caprio served as General Treasurer from 2006-2010, he failed to take action to prevent the underfunding of public workers’ pension funds.
- As a candidate for Governor in 2010, Caprio pretended he had nothing to do with the pension crisis and instead blamed public workers and ran on the position that he would slash their pension benefits.
- In 2010, Caprio actually had private talks with the Republicans about running for Governor as a Republican but, after beating Patrick Lynch, he went on to run one of the worst Democratic campaigns in Rhode Island history.
- It was so bad that, when hearing that President Obama would not endorse him, he publicly said the President could take his endorsement and “shove it.”
- After coming in third in the 2010 Governor’s race, he dropped his Democratic Party membership and in 2012, rooted for Mitt Romney to defeat President Obama.
- When Caprio decided to run again for his old seat as Treasurer, he first discussed running as a Republican with the GOP State Party chair, just as he did in 2010.
- Finally, he decided to run as a Democrat after his brother David was installed as the new state Party Chair.
Accepting the state party convention’s endorsement, Frank Caprio’s acceptance speech can be easily summed up as ‘I won’t screw up as much as I did last time.’
After all that, you would think that Rhode Island Democrats would support a yellow dog rather than Caprio, provided the yellow dog had an untarnished reputation. Fortunately for RI Democratic voters, they already have an alternative with great qualifications and an unblemished reputation in Seth Magaziner.
Here’s a short list of reasons why Seth is the clear choice:
- Life-long Democrat
- Backed by state and national democrats such as Bill Clinton, Deval Patrick, Patrick Kennedy, Liz Roberts, 13 Democratic city and town committees, RI Progressive Democrats, organized labor, RI-NOW and a host of others.
- Activist investor who has proven he can beat the market while also standing up to big-banks to lower fees and fight predatory financial practices like systemic foreclosure.
- Only candidate in the race who testified at the state and federal level about the dangers of predatory financial services such as payday lending and pawn shop check cashing.
- In addition, Seth has published a detailed plan to make the Treasurer’s office an economic engine, including launching an RI green bank and (this is one of my favorites) investing more of the Treasury’s dollars locally.
And if you want to read more about Seth and what he plans to do on behalf of the people of Rhode Island, click here.