PROVIDENCE, R.I.  – Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts questioned the commitment of Boston Red Sox executive Jeremy Kapstein to the state and Kapstein repeatedly attacked Roberts’ leadership, in the first debate in the lieutenant governor’s race ahead of the Sept. 14 Democratic primary.

Roberts said in the WPRO-AM debate that whoever holds the job must meet the highest ethical standards, and she questioned Kapstein’s plan to stay on as an unpaid senior adviser to the Red Sox if he’s elected lieutenant governor.

“You need to make a decision one way or the other,” she said. “This is something you need to commit full time to the people of Rhode Island.”

Kapstein, 67, of Providence, said that while he’d still be available to consult with the Red Sox, he’d spend less time in Boston and would be working for the state “24/7.”

“I pledge to work a minimum of seven days a week, 10 hours a day,” he said.

No reliable polls have been conducted in the race, but Roberts, the party’s endorsed candidate, has been far ahead in fundraising. Filings made with the state Board of Elections this week show Roberts has about $375,000 in her campaign account. Kapstein had $158,000 after loaning himself $160,000.

Kapstein said Roberts, 53, of Cranston, has not done enough to bring new business to Rhode Island. He said he would use his contacts in the business world to bring in jobs from out of state. Rhode Island’s unemployment rate was 11.9 percent in July, among the worst in the country.

“We are in very, very bad shape. You’ve been on watch while we’ve sunk to nearly the bottom in economic desirability,” he said.


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