Will Ricci: Reaction to Endorsements of Linc Chafee for RI Governor
You will rarely, if ever, find me in 100% agreement with a press statement on behalf of the Rhode Island Democratic Party regarding anything, so savor the moment.
That a freshman Democratic legislator has endorsed a possible candidate for political office who is not a member of his own party, for an election which won’t occur until November 2010, means less than zero in the grand scheme of anything political. If anything, it actually shows that there is neither broad, nor deep support for someone who may or may not be a candidate for governor in 2010. Given Linc Chafee’s past record, I absolutely assume that, at some point, he will make up his mind and be a real candidate for governor. I certainly don’t think he will win, but that’s beside the point. Rather, I am more concerned about a politician who has been at the game for quite a while and who should know better.
Of course, my concern is in regard to the very premature endorsement of Linc Chafee for RI governor made by “Republican” Mayor of Warwick Scott Avedesian. Scott is widely presumed to be interested in seeking a higher office in 2010, so perhaps this is a strategic decision on his part, or perhaps it is purely personal. Scott can perhaps be forgiven his transgression on the basis of their longtime friendship. Of course, they both share nearly identical left-of-center political ideologies that are not within the mainstream of what is generally considered “conservative” or even “Republican.”
However, any political party — in this case, the Rhode Island Republican Party — is supposed to stand for something, is supposed to believe something, and this honestly deserves a timely response by it. I would certainly think that any potential Republican candidates for governor, including the one who also hails from Warwick, must feel a certain sense of betrayal. However, I honestly doubt that anyone is actually surprised by this act.
Regardless of the motivation behind Scott’s endorsement, I would sincerely hope for a similarly worded statement by an official representative of the Rhode Island Republican Party. Given our past record as a state party — and its precarious state at present — I am not exactly holding my breath. There are any number of reasons to expect neither talk, nor action, including but not limited to the fact that the RIGOP headquarters in Warwick is in the very same building as Scott Avedesian’s campaign headquarters and that the only remaining member of the RIGOP office staff formerly worked for Linc Chafee when he was in the U.S. Senate. These should not be obstacles to action, but rather inconveniences.
As a longtime member, I’ve come to expect little from the party, and my expectations are almost always exceeded in a bad way. I want the party to succeed — if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have been involved in it for so long — but it isn’t going to succeed at anything if it doesn’t stand up for even the most basic of Republican principles.
Despite that, I still hold out a tiny glimmer of hope the party will act. Paging Gio…
The RI Democrats’ statement to the press read in part:
“I wasn’t surprised to see that Rep. Fierro was sitting alone when he announced his decision to support former Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee. I would have advised Rep. Fierro to have considered Senator Chafee’s record before so hastily and haphazardly announcing support for a candidate, who for so long embraced the ideals of the Republican Party, but who has suddenly labeled himself an ‘independent’ because he finds it politically expedient. If Chris had a little more gravitas and experience I believe he would have ultimately made a better and more well-informed decision. Much like his endorsed candidate, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rep. Fierro changed his mind a few more times before the election. If Chris Fierro endorses a former Republican candidate in the middle of the woods and nobody cares, did it ever really happen?” [Democratic Party executive director Tim] Grilo said.
While I don’t believe that I have heard or seen anywhere where Mayor Scott Avedesian has literally said the exact words “I endorse Linc Chafee for Governor,” he has done everything humanly possible to demonstrate strong support of his candidacy, including but not limited to being a prominent member of the host committee for Linc’s upcoming “exploratory committee” fundraiser. Whether the RIGOP manages even a mild correction remains to be seen.
Will Ricci is a Delegate of the Rhode Island Republican State Central Committee, a Director of the Rhode Island Republican Assembly, and the Editor of The Ocean State Republican blog.