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Caprio’s doubly interesting Jerry Brown connection

July 28, 2010

 As everyone knows, Bill Clinton is due to appear tomorrow in support of Frank Caprio’s gubernatorial campaign. Interestingly, however, it’s someone with whom Clinton exchanged sharp words during the 1992 presidential campaign to whom Caprio credits his interest in politics. He told me the following as part of a profile set to air Friday during Morning Edition:

When I was about 10 years old, I remember going around and campaigning with some of the statewide races; it was 1976. During that year, it was a presidential race and Jerry Brown — who currently is running for governor, but back then he was governor of California — he was running for president and he was a late entry into the presidential race.

It was too late for Brown to get on the Rhode Island ballot, but he encouraged Rhode Islanders to select the “uncommitted” choice on the ballot. Back to Caprio:

It was a group that my dad was friendly with that started to push for Jerry Brown, and I joined in. I put on my Cub Scout uniform and got on the van that started campaigning [visiting bowling alleys, function halls, weddings, and the like]. And he came into Rhode Island. And that’s really what got me interested, all the excitement around his candidacy…. And he ended up winning Rhode Island, as someone who didn’t even have his name on the ballot.

While Jimmy Carter became the Democratic nominee, and eventually president, stumping for Brown “was my first memory and what got me interested in public service,” Caprio says.

The Brown connection is doubly interesting, given how the Californian is seen as a liberal stalwart. Caprio, of course, has been working all sides of the political spectrum, tapping Clinton, for example, and also offering support for the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition. So what was it about Brown that stirred the Caprios’ support?

You know, I’d have to go back and ask, what was the reason everyone was jumping behind Brown at that point?. It may have had something to do with Linda Rondstadt, who was a top singer at the time [and who was dating Brown]. But he was an excellent candidate. He’s still an excellent candidate [in his run for governor of California.] . . . . I look forward to meeting him along the way. Hopefully, it will work out for both of us.

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