Much has been written about whether Congressional candidate Bill Lynch will benefit from his brother Patrick's decision to drop out of the Democratic gubernatorial primary. But Patrick's decision could have far broader impacts on the political landscape.
To wit: without an expensive, highly contested Democratic primary for governor, candidates for Congress and statewide office have a much better chance of poking through the election-year chatter to reach voters.
Particularly advantaged are folks like Congressional candidate David Cicilline, who have built major fundraising advantages and can make heavy TV buys. Candidates with substantial personal fortunes like Jeremy Kapstein, the Red Sox executive-turned-candidate for lieutenant governor, and Anthony Gemma, the businessman-turned-Congressional candidate, could also have an opportunity here.
But as National Education Association-Rhode Island chief Bob Walsh points out in a chat with N4N, Gemma could also be a loser. If moderate Democrat Frank Caprio had faced a tough primary fight with the more liberal Patrick Lynch, he might have drawn out the sort of moderate-to-conservative Democrats and independents most likely to support Gemma in his Congressional bid. Now, the Congressional primary could look a bit more like a typical Democratic contest - more heavily weighted toward progressive voters.
The spin-off effects don't end there. With no Democratic gubernatorial race in play, do independents flock to a suddenly more interesting Republican gubernatorial primary? Does that force GOP candidates to move to the middle earlier than they might have planned? What of Frank Caprio's brother David's bid for re-election to the state's House of Representatives? And on and on.
Even with the premature end of what once looked like a premier contest, Rhode Island's most intriguing political season in decades remains just that.