- Associated Press - Monday, September 1, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Former Treasurer Frank Caprio is seeking a second term against a political newcomer frustrated with Rhode Island’s failure to rebound from the recession.

Seth Magaziner, a 31-year-old investment professional, has promised to bring a fresh perspective to state government and use the treasurer’s office to promote economic growth. Caprio, a 48-year-old attorney and investor, says he wants to use what he learned in his first term to improve the office. He is hoping voters value his experience as treasurer from 2007 to 2010.

The once low-profile office is in the political spotlight because of the pension pressures on the state.

The next treasurer will come into office with the state’s 2011 overhaul of the pension system still unsettled. It was designed to save the state billions, but public-sector unions and retirees sued. Police union members rejected a proposed out-of-court settlement, so the litigation is continuing.

Both candidates said they would try to bring the parties together to craft a deal rather than taking a chance in court.

Incumbent Gina Raimondo is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor. The winner of the Sept. 9 primary faces former state Auditor General Ernie Almonte, who is running as an independent, in November. No Republican filed to run.

Caprio is focused on the traditional role of treasurer - managing the state’s investments. He has promised to be an advocate for small businesses and said he would hire proven, experienced money management firms to loan capital to them. He said he would reduce the fees the state pays to its money managers and not invest in hedge funds that carry high fees.

Caprio has questioned Magaziner’s qualifications to be treasurer and his performance as an investment professional. Caprio served as a state legislator and most recently led the Providence office of Atlanta-based investment firm Chatham Capital. He said he knows how to oversee the state pension fund in both good and bad markets since the recession occurred during his tenure.

“People don’t like surprises when it comes to money,” he said. “With the experience I had in the past, I’ll stand ready to take on whatever the challenges are that we may face in our state, and be a leader on them.”

Magaziner, who most recently worked as a vice president at the investment firm Trillium Asset Management, has made the state’s struggling economy central to his campaign. He says that he has a broader array of ideas than Caprio does for how to get the economy back on track and that state government needs new faces.

“What we’ve been doing as a state hasn’t been working, so we need leaders who are going to bring in new ideas and new energy,” he said.

Rhode Island’s unemployment rate has been among the worst in the U.S. for years. Now with an unemployment rate of 7.7 percent, Rhode Island moved out of last place and is tied with Michigan and Nevada, ahead of last place Mississippi and Georgia. It is just now nearing pre-recession employment levels.

Magaziner said he would have “a laser focus” on using the office to build the state’s economy and create jobs. He wants to invest in infrastructure and in energy-efficient projects and invest more of the state’s pension money locally. Former President Bill Clinton praised Magaziner’s economic plan when he campaigned for him Wednesday in Providence.

Wendy Schiller, a political science professor at Brown University, said she sees Magaziner’s campaign gaining momentum because he appears in television ads to be someone who is devoted to the state and can do the job. Caprio did a good job as treasurer, she said, but he stumbled in the 2010 governor’s race, finishing third, and his brother, David, is involved in a controversy about how a contract was awarded to host concessions at three state beaches.

Caprio said he thinks voters will judge him on his record and not on an issue that has nothing to do with him.

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