When Laffey met Buddy


Someeone heard that Steve Laffey was seen breaking bread at Fleming's a few weeks back with Buddy Cianci and Joe Paolino.

Buddy (on whose radio show I am an occasional guest) yesterday told me that, as he recalls it, the chat took place during "Meatball Mondays," one of the weekly events held at former aide Artin Coloian's Sidebar bar & grill.

He happened to stop in there. We didn't talk much about the governorship. We talked about being mayor. We exchanged mayor stories [with John Lombardi, a former interim Providence mayor, also in the house] ... It was a social event. Steve Laffey, he's very opinionated, and at least he has a theory and a philosophy. And he's a Republican, and I think he can get the Republican nomination, if he wants it. The question is, can he win [the governor's office]? And anyone can win in Rhode Island. We don't know what's going to happen with this economy, and that is a big question. I think he's a formidable candidate. I think he's a guy who can lead the Republican Party. Whether he can win or not is another story.  

I asked Buddy to handicap a 2010 gubernatorial race featuring Laffey, Linc Chafee as an independent, and some Democrat, such as Frank Caprio, who seems to be the favored son of Rhode Island's Italian-American political establishment. (For an update on David Cicilline's possible gubernatorial aspirations, check next week's Phoenix.)

I think Caprio wins that, if he's the Democrat, and he gets the support of the Democratic Party. He fits that mold I was telling you about, not close to the unions. He's south of Division Street, Harvard graduate, clean cut, strong political family.

Chafee running as an independent has a problem. There are three ingredients you need in order to win as an independent, because I've done it three times, four times. Number one, you need strong name recognition; Chafee has that. Number two, you need money; I imagine his wife [Stephanie] has got a lot of money, so they could put it in if they were so inclined to. Could they raise money otuside of their own? Yes, but I don't think it would be phenomenal. Number three, you need something to make an independent candidacy work, and that is an organization. And that he does not have.

Does he have any charisma? Not necessarily. Is he going to walk into a restaurant, or is going to walk into a hall, and everyone's going to yell and scream? Not necessarily true . . . He better think twice about running. I think if he runs as a third-party candidate, he ensures Caprio's victory. So if I were Frank Caprio, I'd be praying for him to run.

Chafee, IMHO, would be a strong gubernatorial candidate and assembling an organization would not be particularly difficult for him.

And considering how even six months can be an eternity in politics, it remains to be seen which of any number of Dems will lead the party in 2010.

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