Summing up the Rhode Island GOP Debate Over Laffey/Chafee ’06
Andrew’s last post about the negative ads against Mayor Laffey has been commented upon by an assortment of Republicans. Some support the Mayor, others bemoan the willingness of the National Republican Party to interfere at the primary level–and on the side of the more manifestly liberal of the two candidates at that–while others think the rank and file should accept the dictates from the party bosses and do nothing that might damage party unity.
I think re-posting some snippets of the commentary generated by Andrew’s post will provide an indication of the tension between those who tend to support the more-conservative Mayor Laffey and those who, even if reluctantly, are siding with “establishment” Republicans and, by default, Senator Chafee.
Anchor Rising contributor Don Hawthorne made the point that
These Senate people have only one principle: sustaining their power base, even if that means being devoid of any policy principles or vision for America. . .
Now, imagine if the Republican Senate leadership spent their money going after liberal Democrats who thwarted – among other things – the timely appointment of judges in the Senate.
And they wonder why we have no respect for their “foreign money” here in Rhode Island?
Will Ricci, of GOPUSA, also chimed in with his disgust:
I’ve been a member of the RNC since the week of my 18th birthday. While the RNC and the NRSC are technically different organizations, I know that they are close enough at the hip, that I can consider them related. They both get marching orders from the White House. I have not yet renewed my RNC membership for this year, because of shenanigans like this. As for all the other solicitations from the RNC and related entities, and I assure you, I receive many, I’ve been promptly shredding them, because I’m just fed up with all of it. However, I’m going to take Andrew and Don’s idea under advisement going forward, since considering the volume of mail that I’m still getting, they may not have gotten the hint from me yet. I’m not giving money to the national Republicans so that they can work against good members of this party who aren’t part of their little elitist club. I give money to them to fight Democrats, not Republicans! I’m sorry to have to do it, but sometimes principle needs to come before politics.
These “confessions” made by Will prompted “citizenjane” to comment:
If you all are so disgusted with this, why don’t you start a letter-writing campaign to the NRSC and threaten to disaffiliate from the party and encourage others to do the same if they do not stop these ads.
To which Will responded
While I understand your sentiments, disaffiliating from the GOP is a non-starter. We’re not going to be driven from the party by people like that. I’m registered as a Republican, because I am a conservative, and conservatives are more likely to win office being Republicans. Lincoln was a Republican, Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican, and Ronald Reagan was a Republican (after he was a Democrat for a while). . . That being said, I think the biggest threat would be to their wallets. Witholding money to the national party and letting them know why you’re witholding it seems to be a good starting point.
But “citizenjane” was seconded by “Anthony,” who also seemed to think it incumbent upon Republicans to stop debate and rally behind the National Party’s chosen candidate:
If you don’t believe in what the RNC and NRSC are doing, maybe you should leave the Republican Party and form a Conservative Party as was done in New York.
Attacking the GOP simply because it is trying its hardest to retain a Senate majority is counterproductive. I understand people may disagree with the decision, but the GOP has made a decision. The time for trying to change that organizational decision in this race has long since past.
The pseudonymous “Robert” echoed Anthony’s views
The NRSC is following a formula they feel is successful, and probably has been in the past around the country. And that is come out attacking, before a challenger can get started.
They have millions of dollars, that they are going to put behind this race, as proven already. And Chafee is at the top of their list of seats to retain. Face it, Republicans in RI have a Senate seat we don’t deserve. Its the bluest state in the country, and the NRSC considers this seat priceless. They will do whatever to keep it and if murder was legal, the NRSC would do its worst.
And “Rex Manning” took the macro view and rather pessimistically observed that
Electing a conservative from Rhode Island (which by the way Laffey has admitted that he is not) is totally impossible. While Chafee may not even be close to a true conservative, he votes with the President almost 80% of the time while his counterpart Senator Reed only votes with the President 65% of the time. It’s the lesser of two evils and we need to keep the Senate.
That is essentially the debate that is going on in the Rhode Island GOP. It includes ideological conservatives, Laffeyites, party loyalists, and political pragmatists, but mostly it’s a debate between ideological conservative who lean towards the more-conservative Mayor Laffey and those who think only Senator Chafee, or liberal Republicans in general, can get elected in a Rhode Island general election for U.S. Senate in 2006. The former group thinks the time for change is now. The latter group thinks supporting Mayor Laffey is too much of a gamble and risks the future political viability of the Rhode Island Republican party.
Finally, and curiously, it should be noted that nowhere have I seen a rabid defense of Senator Chafee (other than perhaps in the columns of the ProJo’s M. Charles Bakst). Instead, those who support Chafee seem to do so based on his electability. So, in the end, the only group that seems to be unrepresented the internal RIGOP debate are self-proclaimed, outright supporters of Senator Chafee.