Caprio's Steady Push

Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts was making headlines even before her announcement yesterday that she would not run for governor. There was a high-profile push to hold down health insurance rates and a spat with the governor over a controversial state contract.

Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch, gearing up for a gubernatorial run, has also stayed in the news, of late - taking shots at the health insurance commissioner in the midst of the health insurance rate hike debate and suggesting that his brother might not run for AG when he leaves the post, which did not sit well with his brother's camp.

But the other Democrat widely expected to run for governor, Treasurer Frank T. Caprio, has remained decidedly low key. There is some political logic to the move. While the gubernatorial race is widely considered a toss-up, Caprio can claim an early lead in the polls and in the money game - his campaign says he had about $1.4 million on hand to Lynch's roughly $550,000 at the end of second quarter. Caprio, in short, has more to lose by becoming embroiled in this or that controversy.

But the approach is also a reflection of Caprio's temperament. The treasurer is a steady character. Reserved. Businesslike. Lynch, by contrast, is a fiery figure. And the personality clash should be one of the most inriguing elements of what has become a two-man Democratic tiff.

Will voters want a calming presence in the face of economic crisis, or a battler who can embody the outrage swelling in a state that has lost its moorings? Will economic improvements, in the next year, change the calculus? And which personality would be better suited to take on the mild-mannered Lincoln Chafee, widely expected to run for governor as an independent, in the general election?

Stay tuned.

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