The Democratic candidate for Governor of Rhode Island, Frank Caprio, is very cross with President Barack Obama. Obama, who will be visiting Rhode Island on a campaign swing soon, has declined to endorse a candidate.
Caprio, who is in a tight race with former Republican and current Independent Lincoln Chafee, has tartly told the President, “He can take his endorsement and really shove it.”
Chafee, who used to be a Republican (in name only) senator from Rhode Island, crossed party lines and endorsed Barack Obama for president in 2008. With the race for Rhode Island governor tight between the Democrat Caprio and the Independent Chafee (the two Republicans are far behind), Obama has a bit of a conundrum. Ordinarily, Obama would endorse the Democrat. But he owes Lincoln Chafee.
If he endorses one candidate and the other wins, then he will find an unhappy and unfriendly governor in a blue state that he carried easily in 2008. But Obama has declined to endorse either candidate, which may mean that no matter who gets elected, Rhode Island will be hostile territory for him.
It may not matter, since even if he is defeated in a landslide, Obama will likely carry Rhode Island again in 2012. On the other hand, if Obama draws a primary candidate due to his lingering unpopularity (say, Hillary Clinton or Howard Dean), he may have hurt himself.
During the primary season of a presidential election, support by a state’s governor can be crucial for winning the nomination. A state’s governor will have his or her ready-made political organization that can be deployed to help a favored candidate.
That is one reason Sarah Palin is endorsing candidates and campaigning so hard for them. The more people she helps to elect to public office, the more office holders will be beholden to her and will be available for support should she desire to run in 2012. Other potential Republican candidates for president, including Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and others are also endorsing and campaigning for candidates with the same view.
Rhode Island does not have enough primary votes for it to matter to President Obama one way or the other. Odds are, even if he does draw a primary opponent, Obama will be the Democratic nominee in 2012. Just ask the shade of Teddy Kennedy, who ran against Jimmy Carter in 1980, or Pat Buchannan, who ran against George H. W. Bush in 1992.
Still, the idea of having to fight in any state without the warm support of that state’s politicians will not be a pleasant one for Obama. Actually losing that state’s primary would be as bitter gall and wormwood to a man of the President’s healthy ego. That is one more problem among many to vex Barack Obama.
Source: Caprio tells WPRO President can “shove” his endorsement, Bill Haberman, WPRO News Talk, October 25th, 2010