Things Heard During the Cicione / Yorke Conversation
Here’s a paraphrased run-down (though I’ve probably provided exact wording in a few cases) of Dan Yorke’s interview with new RI GOP chair Gio Cicione. (Hopefully, Yorke will put the audio up on his site).
Cicione stated that the RI GOP needs to spread the word out about their ideals and they have to do it in a different way than the President will do it or than a politician in the Western or Southern states might do it.
Yorke re-stated his contention that the RI GOP needs to have a full-time chair and a paid staff and that they can’t simply be content to run things like the Democrats. Cicione responded that he has proposed having an Executive Director–to professionalize that office–and agrees the RI GOP can’t mimic the Democrats.
Cicione said the RI GOP has given up on unions and minorities and they need to address that.
Yorke said Carcieri is out of gas other than a solid fiscal mind and good character. He’s not throwing the gauntlet down. The RI GOP needs a fighter.
Yorke pointed out that the budget has gone up every year under Carcieri. Cicione attributed that to lessening revenue streams, some intentional (like car tax and income tax reductions) and some not (like few corporate taxes). To this, Yorke asked if this was really part of the Governor’s plan: to create a budget deficit so that the state would have to deal with cutting programs. Cicione didn’t bite on that theory. However, on the subject of decreasing corporate taxes–alluding to the tax breaks given as business incentives–Cicione said he’s opposed to extensive corporate welfare (in addition to excessive individual welfare).
Cicione talked about grass-roots and integrating town and city committee’s into the fund raising process more. At this point, Yorke offered 2 points of advice concerning what he thought should be some goals for the RI GOP
First was to start a movement to eliminate partisanship in municipal elections (from Mayor on down) and he noted that partisan ideology has no impact on municipal politics–all of the complaints are the same, and rarely are they ideologically derived. Additionally, this would remove the incentive for a guy running for dog-catcher to be a Democrat because it gives him a leg-up in a one-party state. It would also take power–and resources–away from city and town committees.
Yorke’s second suggestion was to stop allowing unaffiliated voters the ability to vote in party primaries. Yorke also sketched a financial plan and suggested that Cicione go to the National party to ask for money for party-building in addition to raising enough money in RI to set up a real party infrastructure.
Cicione responded that they needed institutional consistency and agreed that you can’t short-change the local party workers. If you do, they’ll leave you for someone else. However, Cicione is not as worried about not being a full-time GOP Chair so long as the team is big enough to share the burden. He also noted that being a full-time party operator takes you away from daily interactions with regular people.
Cicione wants to pass good laws. About 50 of the 3000 bills submitted every year are valid. He plans on putting up a “100 bad bills” campaign next year to highlight all of the time wasted by our legislature on bad or meaningless legislation.
Yorke asked if he’s going to be an organizational guy or a bomb-thrower. Cicione said both (earlier he whacked Sen. Montalbano for patronage). Cicione explained that the RI GOP needed to be better organized, but they also can’t let the sheer volume of political hi-jinx overwhelm them to the point that they let it pass by without comment. According to Cicione, the RI GOP needs to hit ’em every time.