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The Best and Worst Campaigns

Friday, November 05, 2010


What was the best election campaign? The worst? GoLocalProv asked its MINDSETTERS™—Republicans, Democrats, and independents—to weigh in. Here is what they had to say.


Gina Raimondo - No one ever was even close to providing a serious challenge to her in either a primary or general election, which is impressive given that she was a first-time candidate and had some liabilities as a venture capitalist. She basically cleared the field from the start as an inspiring woman candidate with amazing fundraising prowess. Her campaign worked hard—and it paid off, with Raimondo getting a higher percentage and a greater number of votes than any other statewide Democratic candidate. A rising star in the Democratic Party, she has a bright future ahead of her.

Best Campaign and Best Rookie - John Loughlin He had the perfect blend of grassroots on the ground accessibility in his district combined with effective multi-media exposure. He was well versed in the issues and never tripped up in the debates. He was responsive, organized and flexible. He stood his ground and appeared confident in his humorous, yet direct retorts to some of his opponent’s accusations. His only real mistake: being slow out of the box after the primary and going socially conservative. Why? Were Tea Party folks really going to vote for Cicilline?

Best campaign that wasn’t a campaign - Bob Healey Charmed the GOP into embracing his historic stance on the Lieutenant Governor position and made it part of the fiscal fitness mantra that the GOP extols. He received more votes than Chafee and he was effective in his media appearances—especially when he exposed Roberts' chief of staff as making $165,000. Ended up winning more votes than Chafee and gave Roberts a run for her money. Not too bad for a guy who spent only $10,000 and didn't have a staff.

Lincoln Chafee - Surprisingly gaffe-free for a candidate known for his misstatements and off-the-cuff style. He somehow even managed to turn the J.R. Pagliarini story against the Caprio camp by turning the focus onto the leaking of J.R.'s personal information. Overcame some silly Schilling statements about the sock and turned it on Caprio—may be the key to the momentum shift.

State Rep Deb Ruggiero - In a district that had been represented by a Republican for more than 25 years before her 2008 victory, Ruggiero cruised to a convincing win in 2010, more than 15 points ahead of her GOP opponent and winning more than 51 percent in a three-way race in a district that likely did not give that high a vote total to any statewide Democrat except Raimondo, proving that aggressive campaigning and personal contact is the key to state legislative campaigns.

Catherine Taylor - No one knew her. Convinced everyone she was smart, tough, and energetic. With a break here or there would have won by 5 points. Likely threat for Congress or Governor in 2012 or 2014 respectively. Watch out boys.

Peter Kilmartin - One of the few legislative leaders ever to break out and win statewide. Not since Bob Weygand ran as a committee chair for Congress has someone gone from a leadership position and won (Kennedy and Langevin were both “outsiders” in the power structure). Ran the perfect primary and then benefited from Little and McKenna sucking votes away from Wallin.

Honorable Mention - David Cicilline Stayed on message, escaped the Providence chaos, and held on against Loughlin’s late push.


Absolute Worst - Kerry King It's a tie with the other worst campaign in recent Rhode Island history—King’s campaign for lieutenant governor in 2006. King played golf all summer and did nothing on his campaign. On second thought, maybe it wasn’t the worst campaign because there was no campaign. Bright side—he won every vote at Point Judith and the Dunes Club.

Frank Caprio - How the heck can the best-funded, no primary contest, statewide name recognition candidate lose this race? He was the leader, but didn’t act like the leader. He was reactive when he should have scoffed off the competition and held the high ground. He should have said “SHOVEL IT” as he was the one who dug the hole. If he had acted like the Governor, he would have won.

RI Clean Slate - The whole GOP effort to “throw the bums out” was a flop. They toppled a grand total of four General Assembly incumbents—Carter, Rice, and Pollard in the House, and Levesque in the senate—and have fewer seats in the upcoming term than they did even from 2007 to 2008. Guess those obscure bus signs were a waste of $100,000. Compare that to the nine Democratic House incumbents who lost their seats in primaries. By the way, not a single one of those nine seats went to Republicans in November.

The Three Write-in Stooges - Mary Ann Shallcross Smith, Doug Gablinske, and Al Gemma. Memorable? Apparently not enough for voters in their district to write in the names of these three sore Democratic primary losers.

Honorable Mention - Moderate Party Candidates Ran on change, but de facto sucked the votes away from challengers and helped the Democratic AG candidate and the Chafee campaign.

Most Boring Campaign – Liz Roberts In a race that drew a cast of colorful characters - Cool Moose Bob Healey, cable show host Bob Venturini, and Red Sox executive Jeremy Kapstein - Roberts kept things ho-hum. But that ad with the “Jaws” music did spice things up a little bit near the end of her campaign.


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