A Foregone Conclusion (Or Is It “Forgone”?)

Ramesh Ponnuru raises a sore point for Rhode Island conservatives:

If Langevin wins the Democratic primary, I’d be open to the idea that conservatives should support him over Chafee. Langevin at least votes pro-life most of the time.

I’ll admit that I don’t get out there and network as much as I should, but my sense is that there’s a whole lot of antipathy to Chafee among Rhode Island conservatives. In fact, I’ve never observed even hesitance when I’ve half-joked that we should make it a cause to unseat him, regardless of who would take his place in the Rhode Island delegation.
Unless the choice is between Chafee and Patrick Kennedy, even a liberal Democrat may benefit from conservatives’ skipping that line on the ballot. Personally, I think there’s a strong argument to be made that our long-term interests are better served by letting the seat slip, clearing the boards for the looming intra-Republican scuffle, and attempting to rebuild the state’s political balance once that hard first step is over.
Of course, the wonkish wisdom of the move may not ultimately be a factor anyway. Especially taking into account Senator Chafee’s general conduct and demeanor since September 11, many of us just don’t have the mastery of our emotions to actively assist in perpetuating the embarrassment.

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mike hamilton
mike hamilton
16 years ago

One would hope that maybe Steve Laffey would challenge Linc for the Republican nod. Of course the White House would probably offer the traitorous Chafee the same support it gave Arlen Specter. In a Kennedy-Chafee race, truly a contest of empty suits I think I would have to abstain. Should Langevin throw his hat in the ring, I could be comfortable voting for him against Chafee.

Dave
Dave
16 years ago

I respectfully disagree. Unless RI Democrats run someone to the right of Chafee, I think Republicans should faithfully pull the Chafee lever. Failure to do so would elect yet one more liberal Democrat and bring Harry Reid one vote closer to being Majority Leader.
Further, dumping Chafee so that a civil war will break out in the RI GOP would be a death knell for the Republican Party in that state. RI is not secretly waiting for the true conservatives to ride back in and save them from mushy moderates. To the contrary, RI is one of the most liberal states in the nation. The only kind of Republican that can win there is the liberal kind. It’s this kind of thinking — that conservatives should demand nothing less than ideological purity — that has destroyed the GOP in Illinois, New Jersey, and California.

Winston Orcutt
Winston Orcutt
16 years ago

You might want to consider what happened in similar circumstances to your neighbors here in Connecticut. The case in point was Lowell Weicker. Many of us GOP faithful supported Joe Lieberman when he ran to the right — there was plenty of room — of Weicker.
Well, it worked. Joe’s still there, talking sensibly much of the time but voting pretty much the same as Chris Dodd. To make it worse, Weicker got elected governor and stuck us with an income tax.
When you have a liberal state you get liberal officeholders, regardless of party affiliation.

Jim S
16 years ago

Just discovered your blog… being a fellow RhodeIslandah, I don’t know how I missed it.
one glaring question pops up about this particular article….
WHAT POLITICAL BALANCE?
Chafee’s a joke, to both sides of the political spectrum. A liberal democrat in wolf’s clothing.. and he’s as close to an opposition as there is here.

Justin Katz
16 years ago

Dave,
I’m happy to have you disagree — especially respectfully! Just the discussion can surely play a beneficial role.
The reality is that the RI GOP is pretty well atrophied anyway. Its three stars (not granting Chafee the title) are the non-politician governor, a Kennedy-challenger who wasn’t initially favored by the party, and Mayor Laffey, who is leading the rebels, so to speak. Moreover, “a death knell” needn’t be the end for the party in this state, especially when it holds the majority federally and Rhode Islanders are finally starting to break their apathy and wonder about that strange political principle: a two-party system.
I’ve the lost friendships and weathered the financial hardships to prove your suggestion that “RI is not secretly waiting for the true conservatives to ride back in and save them from mushy moderates.” Nonetheless, and leaving aside the accuracy of calling Chafee a “moderate,” the modest gains for Republicans in the past election raise questions about the efficacy of offering Rhode Islanders a Democrat-lite party.
I neither expect nor desire the RI GOP that would emerge from a “civil war” to be conservative by national standards. Still, a party following the template of compromise between conservatives and libertarians could do well in a state that desperately needs to add a bit of true rivalry to its political workings.

Eric
Eric
16 years ago

Dave,
With all due respect, what destroyed the GOP here in Illinois was the corruption, criminality and general nitwitery of Govenor George Ryan, not ideological purity. By not impeaching that jerk, the entire party was tarred with complicity and that made it impossible to elect anyone in 2004. Having Alan Keyes lose his mind didn’t help much either.

Jerry
Jerry
16 years ago

California Republican’s intra-party fight handed Barbara Boxer an easy victory in 1992. Ever since then, Republicans kept losing until Arnold, a moderate/liberal Republican came along.
The importance of keeping a Senate majority, hence demoralizing aging dem. Senators cannot be underestimated.

Patrick
Patrick
16 years ago

I think we should concentrate on seats in places like N. Dakota, S. Dakota, Arkansas, and other Red states. Why does Montana have a democrat senator for example. Chafee is unreliable, and could pull a Jeffords the next time he is safely elected for a new 6 year term.

AuH2ORepublican
16 years ago

Congressman John Langevin, who is pro-life and wheelchair-bound, would wipe the floor with the religiously pro-abortion Lincoln Chafee in the heavily Catholic state of Rhode Island. I think that RI Democrats understand that, and will clear the field for Langevin to run against Chafee. (BTW, I know that Lincoln Chafee beat pro-life Democrat Congressman Bob Weygand in 2000, but (i) Langevin is a former Secretary of State and more popular than Weygand and (ii) Rhode Islanders didn’t know just how much of a tool Lincoln Chafee was back in 2000. I think Chafee’s only chance to be reelected is if Patrick Kennedy decides to run for the Senate and buys his way to the Democrat nomination (after his dad calls Langevin a misogynist cripple), since as terrible as Chafee is even he could kick Patrick Kennedy’s butt in a statewide general election. So what options do Rhode Island Republicans have? Republicans could kick Chafee out in the primary, but the only Republican who would be favored against Langevin in the general election would probably be pro-life Governor Don Carcieri, who will surely be running for reelection (both the Senate seat and the governorship are up in 2006). A better solution might be to kick Chafee off of a sub-committee chairmanship or something so that he makes it official and finally leaves the GOP. I assume that the Democrats would discourage Langevin from running in the Democrat primary against someone who recently switched parties in order not to discourage other RINOs from switching, and I think that a Republican Senate candidate with decent name ID would have a good chance of defeating Lincoln Chafee in a general election, especially one in which Governor Carcieri is running for reelection. Chafee sits in the following committees: 1. Foreign Relations (3rd of 10 Republicans… Read more »

Marc Comtois
16 years ago

Nice, informative post AuH2ORepublican (Nice handle!). We must be on the same wavelength.

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