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Rhode Island gubernatorial election, 2010

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In the Rhode Island gubernatorial election of 2010, held on November 2, 2010, Independent Lincoln Chafee, who left the Republican Party following a term in the U.S. Senate, defeated Democrat Frank T. Caprio, Rhode Island's General Treasurer, and Republican John F. Robitaille. Incumbent Governor Donald Carcieri, a Republican, was term-limited.

In the September 14, 2010 primary elections, Caprio would have faced the Attorney General of Rhode Island, Patrick Lynch, but Lynch had withdrawn his candidacy in July. Robitaille faced off against former State Representative Victor G. Moffitt and became the Republican nominee, but was never seriously expected to win. In the end, he placed second to Lincoln Chafee.

On Friday, September 10, 2010, news broke that Democrat Frank Caprio,whose party has marked Rhode Island's governorship as a prime target and who is facing serious third party competition, had approached Robataille about dropping out of the race and backing his candidacy.[1][2]

Robataille's camp alleged that a former Republican officer holder approached him on behalf of Caprio, with the offer of, “anything, anything you want to get out of this race.”. Caprio's camp never addressed the story directly, though the National Journal confimred that, as far back as February, Caprio met with the Republican National Committee to ask for their support.[3]

Robataille was, at the time, still adamant that he could win the race; with a credible third party candidate and no law requiring a candidate to take a majority of the vote to win, Rhode Island's governor can theoretically enter office with less than 40% of the vote.

Inauguration and transition

Inaugural date

Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee was sworn in on January 4, 2011, at which time he became be America's only sitting governor not ot belong to one of the major parties.

Transition team

Governor-elect Chafee's transition site was at Governor Elect Chafee. Graham Vyse served as the point of contact, available at and at 401-535-8834. Mike Trainor continued his campaign role as spokesman for Chafee, with the title of Deputy Transition Director.

The first round of names announced for the transition team included Chairman Patrick Rogers, aided by Stephen Hourahan as Transition Director, Michael Trainor, Director of Transition Policy Jonathan Stevens, and Judge Stephen Erickson as the Transition Legislative Liaison/Legal Adviser.[4]

Additionally, a transition advisory committee was named, with Helena Buonanno Foulkes, Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer at CVS Caremark; Dr. Pablo Rodriguez, Associate Chair for Community Relationships in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Women and Infants' Hospital, and CEO of Women's Care; Meg Curran, former U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island; and Robert A. Walsh, Jr, Director of the National Education Association Rhode Island.

On November 17, 2010, Governor-elect Chafee added Margaret Holland McDuff, Claire Richards, and John Simmons.[5]

November 2, 2010 general election results

As of November 8, 2010, 100% of precincts have reported and results are final.[6][7]

Governor of Rhode Island, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Frank T. Caprio 23% 78,896
     Republican John F. Robitaille 33.6% 114,911
     Independent Green check mark transparent.pngLincoln Chafee 36.1% 123,571
     Moderate Ken Block 6.5% 22,146
     Independent Ronald Algieri 0.2% 793
     Independent Todd Giroux 0.3% 882
     Independent Joseph M. Lusi 0.3% 1,091
Total Votes 342,290

Race ratings

See also: Gubernatorial elections 2010, Race tracking

2010 Race Rankings Rhode Island
Race Tracker Race Rating
The Cook Political Report[8] Toss-up
Congressional Quarterly Politics[9] Toss-up
Larry J. Sabato's Crystal Ball[10] Leans Independent
Rasmussen Reports Gubernatorial Scorecard[11] Leans Independent
The Rothenberg Political Report[12] Leans Independent
Overall Call Independent


5. Rothenberg moved race from "Pure Toss-up" to "Leans Independent" on October 28th.

4. Larry J. Sabato moved race from Leans Democrat" to "Leans Independent" on October 28th.

3. Larry J. Sabato moved race from "Toss-up" to "Leans Democrat" as of October 24th.

2. Rasmussen moved race to "Leans Independent" following October 21st polling.

1. Rasmussen moved race from "Toss-up" to "Leans Democratic" following August 17th poll.


2010 Race for Rhode Island Governor - Fleming & Associates
Date Reported Robataille (R) Caprio (D) Chaffe (I) Block (M) Don't Know
September 22, 2010[13] 18.6% 32.38% 29.8% - 14.6%
(Sample)[14] n=500 MoE=+/- 4.38% p=0.05

2010 Race for Rhode Island Governor - Rasmussen Reports
Date Reported Robataille (R) Caprio (D) Chaffe (I) Block (M) Don't Know
October 21, 2010[15] 25% 28% 35% 6% 6%
October 6, 2010[16] 22% 30% 33% 4% 10%
September 16, 2010[17] 23% 30% 33% 5% 9%
(Sample)[18] n=500 MoE=+/- 4.5% p=0.05


The November Ballot – Who Made It? Rhode Island Governor[19]
Nominee Affiliation
Frank T. Caprio Democrat
John F. Robitaille Republican
Kenneth J. "Ken" Block Moderate
Lincoln Davenport "Linc" Chafee Independent
Ronald Algieri Independent
Todd Giroux Independent
Joseph M. Lusi Independent
This lists candidates who won their state's primary or convention, or who were unopposed, and who were officially certified for the November ballot by their state's election authority.

The official lists of certified candidates are maintained by Rhode Island's Office of the Secretary of State.[20]


  • Frank Caprio, serving as the General Treasurer for the state at the time of his candidacy.
  • Patrick C. Lynch, the term-limited Attorney General, left the race, endorsing Mr. Caprio[21][22][23]


Moderate Party


  • Victor G. Moffitt, a businessman and former State Representative
  • John F. Robitaille, is a former US Army paratrooper and currently owns his own business, building off of experiences working as a labor negotiator.

Race background

48 hours before the one state where serious race trackers gave a third party a strong chance at moving into the governor's mansion, the race potentially got a lot harder for the outsider. In this case, the 'outsider' was former Senator - and former Republican - Lincoln Chafee, whose Independent effort at winning the state's highest office was causing a fair amount of trouble for the state's Democratic party.

Rhode Island's governorship had been in GOP hands for seven of the past nine cycles, and consistently since 1994. Term-limited incumbent, Donald L. Carcieri, gave Democrats some hope when he eked out re-election by a mere two points in 2006. Then, what had been projected to be a crowded primary field got a lot easier to navigate when several Democrats took themselves out of contention before the campaign season truly got going. Democrats eventually put up two candidates, Attorney General Patrick Lynch and General Treasurer Frank T. Caprio against Republican John F. Robitaille, himself a senior staffer to Gov. Carcieri. Robitaille has nominal primary opposition in former State Representative Victor Moffit, but polling numbers in 2010 weren't favoring any Republican in Rhode Island.

Chafee certainly looked as if he might pull off a coup and join a small club of successful third party candidates for high office. But, on Wednesday, June 14, 2010, the Providence Journal reported that Patrick Lynch would be exiting the race.[26] The story ran just before the end of the business day and suggested Lynch would formally announce the cessation of his candidacy the following day[27], a prediction the flashed across the morning news blasts out of Washington.[28].

Lynch leaves the race

Indeed, on the afternoon of July 15, 2010, Lynch addressed his supporters in a speech entitled, 'The Push for Unity Begins Today”, in which he formally ended his campaign and called for a show of Democratic party unity. In making an endorsement of his former rival for the Democratic nomination, he remarked: “Therefore, today I am announcing that I am withdrawing my name from consideration to become the next Governor of Rhode Island. do so without hesitation. And as I do so, I wholeheartedly offer my enthusiastic endorsement of my friend and fellow General Officer, Frank Caprio."[29]

Lynch trailed, in fundraising and in polling, behind his former primary opposition, General Treasurer Frank T. Caprio. Lynch was also passed over by the Democrats when they endorsed Caprio in June, saying in a statement that they perceived him to be the stronger candidate. Shortly after leaving the race, Mr. Lynch endorsed Frank Caprio, the state's General Treasurer.[30]

With the campaign's formal announcement, Lynch's exodus boosted Democratic hopes in Rhode Island's fierce race to succeed term-limited Donald L. Carcieri. Lincoln Chafee, running as an Independent, continued to poll strongly and third party candidate Ken Block, on the Moderate Party ticket, was still in the race. The GOP nomination was not yet sewn up at that point, as John F. Robitaille and Victor Moffitt were sparing ahead of their September primary.

Remaining primary candidates face altered field

Without the hope that a drawn-out primary would deplete Democratic resources and exhaust the eventual victor, Chafee's bid could have hit a stumbling block. Democrats were intent on re-taking the governorship this fall and had an intimidating operation on the ground to back their sole remaining candidate. Caprio was beating Chafee 4-to-1 in cash on hand. Republican candidates also trailed in fundraising, as did Moderate Ken Block.[31]

Just after Lynch left the campaign trail for good, Chafee was leading Caprio by a slight margin – 37% to 30%.[32] Key to Chafee's hope was turning Rhode Island's large population of unaffiliated voters to his advantage.

Gubernatorial Election history


  • 2006 General
Governor of Rhode Island, 2006
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Charles J. Fogarty 49% 189,562
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngDonald Carcieri Incumbent 51% 197,366
Total Votes 386,928


Governor of Rhode Island, 2002
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Myrth York 45.2% 150,229
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngDonald Carcieri 54.8% 181,827
Total Votes 332,056

Presidential electoral history

2008 Presidential Results[33]
Candidates Percentage
John McCain (R) 35.06%
Barack Obama (D) 62.86%

2004 Presidential Results
Candidates Percentage
George W. Bush (R) 38.67%
John Kerry (D) 59.42%

2000 Presidential Results
Candidates Percentage
George W. Bush (R) 31.91%
Al Gore (D) 60.99%

1996 Presidential Results
Candidates Percentage
Bob Dole (R) 26.82%
Bill Clinton (D) 59.71%

1992 Presidential Results
Candidates Percentage
George H.W. Bush (R) 29.02%
Bill Clinton (D) 47.04%

See also

External links

Candidate pages


  1. The Providence Journal, "R.I. GOP gubernatorial candidate Robitaille alleges “deal” offered by Democratic rival Caprio," September 10, 2010
  2. Real Clear Politics, "Rhode Island Gov Race Grows More Complicated," September 10, 2010
  3. The Providence Journal, "National GOP says Caprio met to discuss candidacy; Caprio denies considering party switch," September 9, 2010
  4. Governor Elect Chafee, "Biographies: Chafee Transition Leadership Team, Transition Advisory Committee," November 8, 2010
  5. RI Government, "Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee Names Three New Members of Transition Leadership Team," November 17, 2010
  6. Rhode Island State Board of Elections, "2010 General Election: Governor," updated November 8, 2010 at 11:46, accessed November 15, 2010
  7. AP election guide - Hosted by NPR, "Rhode Island State Profile," accessed February 4, 2013
  8. The Cook Political, “Governors: Race Ratings”
  9. CQ Politics, “2010 Race Ratings: Governors”
  10. Larry J. Sabato's Crystal Ball', “2010 Governor Ratings”
  11. Rasmussen Reports', “Election 2010: Scorecard Ratings”
  12. Rothenberg Political Report, “Governor Ratings”
  13. Fleming & Associates, “Election 2010: Rhode Island Governor: Chafee (I) 33%, Caprio (D) 30%, Robitaille (R) 23%, Block (M) 5%”, October 1, 2010
  14. [More complete methodology and sampling tabs are available at]
  15. Rasmussen Reports, “Election 2010: Rhode Island Governor: Chafee (I) Extends His Lead”, October 22, 2010
  16. Rasmussen Reports, “Election 2010: Rhode Island Governor: Chafee (I), Caprio (D) Battle for Lead”, October 6, 2010
  17. Rasmussen Reports, “Election 2010: Rhode Island Governor: Chafee (I) 33%, Caprio (D) 30%, Robitaille (R) 23%, Block (M) 5%”, September 20, 2010
  18. [More complete methodology and sampling tabs are available at]
  19. Rhode Island Secretary of State Elections and Civics Board, “Candidates for Governor”, search run on September 19, 2010
  20. Office of the Secretary of State, "Candidates for Governor," accessed July 16, 2010
  21. Providence Journal, "Attorney General Patrick Lynch plans to run for governor in 2010" 23 May, 2009
  22. FOX Providence, "Report: Lynch to exit governor's race" 15 July, 2010
  23. The Boston Globe, "Lynch quits quest for governor of R.I." 16 July, 2010
  24. Giroux for Governor, "The Rhode Island Governor is the only public office from which policy change can help the people of Rhode Island," June 1, 2010
  25. Craigslist, "Joe Lusi for RI governor (RI)," July 8, 2010
  26. Providence Journal, "," July 14, 2010
  27. FoxProvidence,com, "Report: Lynch to exit governor's race," July 15, 2010
  28. Taegan Goddard's Political Wire, "Lynch Expected to Drop Race for Rhode Island Governor," July 14, 2010
  29. Patrick Lynch for Governor, "The push for unity begins today," July 15, 2010
  30. Caprio for Governor, "Statement from Frank on Patrick Lynch's endorsement," July 15, 2010
  31. Real Clear Politics, “Chafee's independent RI governor bid no easy road”, July 22, 2010
  32. Rasmussen Reports, “Election 2010: Rhode Island Governor: Rhode Island Governor: Chafee (I) Holds Slight Lead”, July 23, 2010
  33. Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections', accessed July 28, 2010