Politics: RI Gov's Race Too Disappointing To Call


Originally Appeared at Rhode Island's Future in October, 2010

I turned 18 in September 2004. It was my freshman year of college and of the few priorities I had that fall, picking the right candidate for President fell somewhere behind constructing the perfect bong and making sure I wound up in as many classes as possible with Becky from across the hall in order of importance.

Besides, I already knew who to vote for. That summer, my hippy older sister forced me to listen to some black guy from the Midwest explain why John Kerry was going to save the world. If that didn’t seal the deal, this did: Eminem hated Bush, and even though I was a few years past my bleached-hair phase, I still considered him the voice of my generation.

But before the November election, I figured it might be a good idea to learn something about Kerry. Not because I had my doubts, but because I needed ammo when the College Republicans came to seduce my buddies with promises of better beer and prettier women. What I found out left me frustrated. He was nothing like that man on TV said he was. He was just another stuffy white guy who gave underwhelming speeches and was wishy-washy on most issues. Needless to say, I still voted for him, but let my friends go over to the dark side without much of a fight.

In retrospect, I probably should have cast a protest vote. But I felt protest votes were wasted votes and for the most part, still do. I have no real reasoning behind this, except that I like for my vote to count and the competitor in me would rather pick an average electable candidate than one with zero chance of winning. Bottom line: It would take a pretty awful cast of characters for me to support a fringe candidate or write-in Brian Hull on my ballot.

Which brings me to our governor’s race.

Not since that presidential election six years ago have I been so thoroughly disappointed by the favorites in a race I’m obligated to vote in. And I don’t see much changing over the next two weeks. Bill Clinton couldn’t convince me to go door-to-door for Frank Caprio and Meg Curran sure as hell hasn’t instilled in me a new level of trust for Lincoln Chafee.

The two frontrunners have spent the majority of their time attempting to one-up each other with sleazy attack after sleazy attack while offering nothing more than basic talking points for, you know, fixing the state. In short, Caprio believes that if your son can expand his lemonade stand by one job, Rhode Island could be saved. Meanwhile, Chafee thinks taxing said lemonade will somehow attract new businesses to the state.

These guys make Governor Carcieri look like a genius. The problem is the next candidate on the ballot actually believes the governor is a genius. When John Robitaille inevitably finishes third, you have to wonder if he’ll regret never being able to name even one thing his former boss did wrong in his two terms. While largely avoiding the mudslinging between the frontrunners, he has also failed to separate himself, forcing Republicans to wonder aloud if a vote for Robitaille is a vote for Chafee.

Which brings me to the question of the day: Is Ken Block deserving of a protest vote?

He has easily come off as the most likable of the bunch and when given the chance to talk during debates, he has been impressive. The problem is you often forget about him while focusing on what his opponents have to say about each other. We know he’s too conservative for this blog and too liberal for that other blog, which is precisely what he strives to be. Unfortunately, the “in the middle of everything” strategy, by design, doesn’t allow you to stand out. Not even among this disappointing group.

So how will I vote?

Let’s put it this way: Unless Eminem has a horse in this race, I remain firmly in the undecided and unenthused segment of the population.

Hey, at least I’m in the majority.


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