Gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio is on a roll. Pundits are rightly praising his tightly run campaign, with its laser-like focus on jobs. His early success helped push Democratic rival Patrick Lynch out of the campaign. And now, Bill Clinton is coming to town to stump for the candidate.
But don't anoint him governor just yet. The latest Rasmussen poll has independent Lincoln Chafee clinging to a lead in the race - 37 percent to Caprio's 30 percent, with likely Republican nominee John Robitaille at 23 percent. This despite Chafee's sagging fundraising operation and a campaign defined, to date, by a politically risky - if, perhaps, admirably honest - call for a sales tax on currently exempt items like food and clothing.
It is, of course, still early. Most voters aren't yet engaged. As it gets closer to crunch time, Caprio's considerable skills as a campaigner could very well be the difference maker. And Chafee, who has always gone his own way, could find himself falling prey to the same troubles that dogged Lynch: a murky message and failure to build momentum.
But Chafee has a reservoir of good will, and a family fortune, that are not to be overlooked. Caprio, meanwhile, is struggling to get traction with the liberal wing of his party, which is taking a serious look at Chafee. And Robitaille, if early polls are any indication, is doing quite well on Caprio's right flank - maintaining a stubborn grip on the GOP voters that Caprio is surely hoping to attract.
Caprio looks strong. But he's not the governor yet.