Club For Growth Endorses Laffey
Club For Growth President Pat Toomey–who knows a little something about taking on a moderate Republican incumbent–has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in which he reveals that his organization has officially endorsed Steve Laffey for the RI GOP Senate primary.
[Ronald] Reagan helped define the mission of the Republican Party. By re-establishing limited government as the central principle of the GOP, he laid the groundwork for the political revolution that bears his name. Almost 30 years later, the Republican Party is at a similar defining moment. Once again, challengers to certain Republican incumbents are needed to help restore limited government to its rightful place at the center of the Republican agenda.
Today, the Club for Growth PAC will endorse Steve Laffey, the Republican Mayor of Cranston, R.I., in his primary challenge against Sen. Lincoln Chafee. Steve Laffey is a pro-growth, Reagan Republican. Sen. Chafee epitomizes the GOP’s waning commitment to limited government and economic freedom.
Toomey proceeds to explain why the Club for Growth is against Senator Chafee:
Sen. Chafee has consistently opposed tax cuts. Citing the federal deficit, he opposed the Bush tax cuts that have generated our powerful economic expansion. But his concerns about deficits don’t extend to government spending. Bills he has sponsored would add nearly a half-trillion dollars in new spending over 10 years. The National Taxpayers Union gave him a dismal 49% rating for his profligacy with taxpayer money. A close ally of organized labor, he opposes school choice, and just last month voted for a minimum-wage increase. A recent Boston Globe profile describes his ideology as “well-suited for a centrist Democrat.”
Despite his liberal record, Sen. Chafee is warmly embraced by the Republican Party establishment which dutifully enforces an unprincipled, though ironclad, mutual-defense agreement that ignores ideology.
Sounds familiar. After explaining why the Club for Growth is philosophically opposed to Sen. Chafee, Toomey explains why they have chosen to endorse Mayor Laffey.
Steve Laffey makes a stark contrast. After an inspiring climb from rags to riches, he returned to his hometown to run for mayor and rescue the city of Cranston from impending insolvency. As mayor, Mr. Laffey ruthlessly attacked the mismanagement that had caused Cranston’s problems. He cut costs, established financial controls, rooted out waste and took on bloated union contracts in the courts–as well as in the court of Rhode Island public opinion. Today, Cranston has recovered its investment-grade credit rating and the voters there have re-elected him twice. This in a city where only 14% of voters are Republicans!
As a senator, Mr. Laffey would cut wasteful spending, especially corporate welfare; make the Bush tax cuts permanent; expand international trade; reform insolvent entitlements and fix broken tort laws. In short, he’s precisely the kind of pro-growth, limited-government Republican the Senate badly needs more of.
According to Toomey, the RI Senate GOP Primary is only part of a larger battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.
After 10 years of controlling Congress, Washington Republicans have an identity crisis. It was Republicans who gave us a farm bill that only a Soviet central planner could love; a campaign-finance reform bill that expands government’s unconstitutional restrictions on speech; a prescription-drug entitlement program that Lyndon Johnson could only have dreamed of; and a transportation bill with more than 40-times as many pork projects it took to earn Reagan’s veto. So, we ask a fair question: Is Reagan’s vision of limited government–the fundamental principle that brought Republicans to power–still part of the Republican identity, or has it been abandoned in favor of the seductive power of controlling unlimited government?
UPDATE: This endorsement has prompted me to scrounge around for other endorsements. I had forgotten that NARAL had endorsed Senator Chafee in May in hopes that the early endorsement would “help the senator sink a potential primary fight from Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey.” (Guess that didn’t work) More from the story:
Chafee expressed pleasure with the endorsement and said he will try to stress to NARAL members today that the Senate should not cut back the ability of Democrats to filibuster President Bush’s judicial nominees, many of them conservative opponents of abortion.
Keenan said NARAL opted to give Chafeee its first endorsement of the 2006 campaign for several reasons. One is that NARAL supports incumbents and “we stand by our friends,” such as Chafee, who have amassed what NARAL considers to be good records on the issue.
NARAL gave Chafee a 100-percent rating on its review of how senators voted last year on legislation the group considers important.
Keenan also emphasized NARAL’s devotion to helping Republicans who support abortion rights. “We need Lincoln Chafee’s sensible, moderate, Republican voice” in the Senate, Keenan said.
Keenan was asked why NARAL did not prefer [Secretary of State Matthew] Brown, a candidate who has pledged to apply a “litmus test” to all judicial nominees — opposing any who do not show support for abortion rights.
She answered that Chafee has a record of tough votes, while Brown has no congressional voting record.
Some Democrats are now pointing to NARAL’s strategy as flawed.
I’ll keep my eyes peeled for more endorsements as they occur.