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Battle Lines Drawn in Gubernatorial Race

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Patrick Lynch is hammering Democratic rival Frank Caprio for offering to support the right-leaning Rhode Island Statewide Coalition at an event this week.

Lynch, in a press release, suggests Caprio was "spooked" by Republican Scott Brown's victory in the Senate race in Massachusetts this week:

“Frank Caprio claims he is a Democrat but his actions speak louder than his words,” said Mike Mikus, campaign manager for Patrick Lynch for Governor.  “When he speaks at ‘Drinking Liberally’, Caprio claims he’s the most liberal candidate in the race, then weeks later pledges financial support for a group committed to defeating progressive Democrats across Rhode Island.”

“Frank Caprio is either not the progressive he claims to be or he is spooked by the loss of one campaign in a neighboring state,” Mikus said. “Either way, his pledge to contribute to an organization designed to attack Democrats proves that he should not be the standard bearer of the Democratic Party in the fall.”

Caprio's campaign, by way of response, said this in a missive to WRNI:

At the exact time our opponents were busy drafting and releasing this attack, Frank was meeting with fifteen small business owners at a factory in Cranston, working on finding ways to save and create jobs. He will not be distracted by engaging in political bickering and maneuvering.

Lynch is clearly trying to nail down liberals and organized labor, which are potent constituencies in Democratic primaries. And by suggesting that he sticks to his principles while Caprio vacillates, he is attempting to create the image of a leader with backbone.

Caprio is betting that moderates and independents will turn out for what promises to be a high-profile election in still-anxious times. And he is probably wise to go for broke with this strategy. Winning over substantial blocs of liberals seems pretty unlikely at this point. So he's got to convince the middle that he's a different kind of candidate with a laser-like focus on their biggest issue: the economy.

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