Can Republicans be Confident in Chafee?
So asks NROs Ramesh Ponnuru:
I haven’t thought this race held as much potential for conservatives as the Specter vs. Toomey race did in 2004. I thought Toomey had a greater chance of winning a general election than I think Laffey does now. But as Chafee’s Alito vote shows, the downside of backing the conservative insurgent is lower, too. What would Chafee do if the Republican majority in the Senate depended on his vote? How much confidence can anyone have that he would stay a Republican under those circumstances?
I hadn’t really seriously considered the prospect, but it strikes me as no small leap to ask if he’d pull a Jefford’s if his “conscience” so dictated? I know he’s said he wouldn’t in the past, but can Republican Chafee supporters really be so sure? (Incidentally, the link to Sen. Chafee’s statement–made shortly after he voted for President George H.W. Bush–is no longer anywhere to be found on the Senator’s web site).
Here’s Senator Chafee’s official statement on Alito (PDF) and here is Mayor Laffey’s official response.