Nine things to watch for on Election Day

Solidarity forever! Tea Party froth! Providence Rising!
By DAVID SCHARFENBERG  |  October 27, 2010


It is, perhaps, a sign of a troubling derangement. But I'll say it anyway: I'm going to miss this election season when it's over.

There have been some disappointments, to be sure. The much anticipated slugfest in the Democratic gubernatorial primary never materialized. And for anyone with an appreciation for the absurd, Republican Steve Laffey's decision to pass on the governor's race and move his outlandish act to Colorado was nothing short of devastating.

But there has been plenty of good fodder: Frank Caprio Sr., Shove-it-gate, even a (modestly) edifying debate over taxes and education reform. And it ain't over yet — there's Election Day itself, which should offer its own array of surprises, oddities, and insights.

So as a sort of last hurrah, we give you this: nine things to look for on Tuesday.


Republican gubernatorial nominee John Robitaille has, at best, an outside shot at victory. Indeed, these might seem dark days for conservatives, who have had a near stranglehold on the governor's office for the past quarter-century.

But the truth is, if you're on the right side of the political spectrum, you really can't lose here.

As one delighted Republican operative noted in a recent chat with the Phoenix, voters will choose between a Republican (Robitaille), a wannabe Republican (Democrat Frank Caprio), and a former Republican (independent Lincoln Chafee).

Carcieri is dead, long live Robcapfee!


The Caprio campaign is known, above all else, for its discipline. So it's hard to believe that the candidate was lost in a snit when he told off President Obama in a talk-radio interview this week.

No, with the left all but lost to Chafee, this looked more like a calculated appeal to independents and Republicans who might be leaning toward Robitaille.

But the choice of words — Caprio told the prez to "shove it," perhaps you've heard? — may not have been in the official script and was, well, less than ideal.

If the gaffe helps to sink the Democrat's campaign, there would be some irony here: Chafee, not the smoothest of fellows, was supposed to be the one who fell prey to the ill-advised remark.


Chafee's decision to drop the "R" after his name and run as an independent undoubtedly yielded some benefits. He is, I understand, no longer required to train with the GOP's team of elephants at W's ranch.

But without a party infrastructure — not that the Rhode Island Republican Party was such a behemoth — it'll be a challenge to browbeat supporters into showing up at the polls on Election Day.

Chafee is hoping the environmental groups and labor unions backing him can help with the get-out-the-vote effort. But he'll face a juggernaut in Democrat Frank Caprio's operation: a blizzard of text messages and phone calls — and, I understand, a small army of donkeys.


The political power of big, bad organized labor is often overplayed. But the state's unions made an impressive showing in September, knocking off a series of conservative Democratic state legislators in the primary election — Doug Gablinske, who once called public employees "pigs at the trough," and Frank Caprio's brother David among them.

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Related: Addicted to distraction, Providence's mayoral candidates, on bended knee, David Cicilline for Congress, More more >
  Topics: News Features , Politics, Sheldon Whitehouse, elections,  More more >
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