Open Forum on Closing the RIGOP Primary

The RIGOP Executive Committee voted to have a meeting to vote on closing their primary (roll call and more info provided by Will Ricci in the extended entry). Chairmain Gio Cicione has stated that he won’t call the meeting until after the 2010 elections and the rank and file are upset, arguing that he’s abusing his executive power to put off a meeting that may result in an outcome he doesn’t want (ie; a closed RI GOP primary).
Setting aside those more immediate internecine political machinations, is having a closed primary good or bad for the party? Do you care? As I said on Matt Allen’s show last night, “What has an open primary done for the RIGOP so far?” I understand the argument based primarily on the belief that the party is so small and it doesn’t want to freeze anyone out. But appealing to the independent/moderate masses has not done much for the GOP as far as I can tell. My belief is the RI GOP needs to decide what the heck it wants to be and it can best do that by having people willing to actually call themselves Republicans showing the way.
What do you think?

RI GOP Executive Committee member Will Ricci has provided the roll call vote and also clarified some things from the ProJo story:

This article in Wednesday’s Providence Journal is largely accurate, except for an assertion that a ’slight majority of elected officials’ voted against meeting on the 19th. 3 current officials (Bob Watson, Joe Trillo, and Joe Almond) and 1 former official (Carol Mumford) voted in favor of having the January 19th meeting, 2 were opposed (Mayors Avedesian and Fung) to having a meeting on the 19th. 4 were in favor, 2 were opposed. Last time I checked, 4 was greater than 2.
The confusion may have been caused in part by House Republican Leader Watson’s John Kerry-esque vote in favor of having a meeting on the 19th, but telegraphing that he would likely vote against the bylaws change if it comes up for a final vote before the whole committee at a later date (we’ll take what we can get).
Anyway, it was a good night: 26 in favor, 10 opposed, 2 abstentions {see roll call below – ed.}.

Against (10):
Gio Cicione – Chair, RIGOP
Robert Coupe – Secretary, RIGOP
John Harpootian – Governor’s Designee
Hon. Scott Avedesian – Mayor of Warwick
Hon. Allan Fung – Mayor of Cranston
Dr. Daniel Harrop – Chair, Finance Committee
Robert Manning – Chair, Platform Committee
Marge Gartelman – At-Large
Tom Curry – At-Large
Sean Gately – At-Large
In Favor (26):
Nancy Richmond – 1st Vice Chair, RIGOP
Lester Olson – 2nd Vice Chair, RIGOP
Barbara Holmes – Treasurer, RIGOP
Dave Talan – Corresponding Secretary, RIGOP
John Clarke – Parliamentarian, RIGOP
Hon. Carol Mumford – RNC National Committeewoman
Hon. Joseph Trillo – RNC National Committeeman
Travis Rowley – Chair, RI Young Republicans
Renay Omisore – Chair, African-American Republicans
Raymond McKay – President, Rhode Island Republican Assembly
Patricia Morgan – Past Chair, RIGOP
Hon. Joseph Almond – Lincoln Town Administrator
Mia Caetano-Johnson – Chair, Nominations Committee
Hon. Robert Watson – House Republican Leader
Phil Hirons – President, City and Town GOP Chairmen’s Caucus
Robert Carlin – Providence County Vice-Chair
Diane Allen – Washington County Vice-Chair
Judy Orson – Kent County Vice-Chair
Thomas Carroll – Bristol County Vice-Chair
Antone Viverios – Newport County Vice-Chair
Mark Zaccaria – At-Large
Ted Richards – At-Large
Charles Vacca – At-Large
Jonathan Scott – At-Large
William Ricci – At-Large
Abstentions (2):
John Robitaille – At-Large
Kerry King – At-Large

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13 years ago

I sent the following email to the Governor yesterday:
The purpose of a primary is for the members of a party to select the party’s candidate in the general election. What is hard to understand about that?
Unaffiliated voters are not members, yet some of them want to have it both ways. I do not believe the objectors have given it much thought before reacting. If you want to help choose a party’s candidate, simply join the party.
This objection is like me saying I want to choose the next leader of the Knights of Columbus, although I’m not a member. It’s irrational and stupid.
In fact, I believe that those who publicly object to this plan are not independents at all but are Democrat operatives using this discussion to raise phony controversy about
It has happened before, at least in the 2006 primary, that Democrats disaffiliated at the last minute in order to subvert the Republican primary. That is as corrupt a perversion of the electoral process as I can imagine.
The effect of such an action is to deprive those self-styled “unaffiliated conservatives” of a truly conservative candidate to vote for, leading to the situation in which “Both candidates look the same, there is nothing to choose between them.” So then the unaffiliateds don’t bother to come out and vote.
Frankly, this is so obvious that the whole discussion is ridiculous. The primary should have been a members-only process from the beginning.

13 years ago

My take is that although I think the primary should be closed in this state, it will not matter if Caprio is battling Lynch in the other booth. Most democrats would probably support “my guy” before getting rid of “their guy”.
As such, I will register R to get Laffey in but if he is the only candidate, I’m going D to get Lynch out.

13 years ago

The question I have amid all the minor hysteria about closing the primary is whether this is really just semantics and setting a new deadline. The problem today is that people can decide which party to vote for when they show up at the polling station. By closing the primary, people will still be able to flip flop between parties, they’ll just need to do it ahead of time, no? All this will mean is to set an earlier deadline to affiliate and then require that they disaffiliate either immediately after voting or at some later date at Town Hall, correct? So all we’re really talking about is changing the schedule, nothing else? Everyone will still be able to vote in a Republican primary, they just will need to put more forethought into it, right? That’s the only difference?
If that’s all it is, shut ’em down. Being affiliated may mean a more educated voter in a primary. I’m all for it.

13 years ago

Without explanation, I’m for closing the primary.
Only rats should choose their head rat and only cockroaches should choose their head cockroach.
Oops, I guess I did explain myself.
For those of us who are neither rats nor cockroaches, then we’ll have to decide after the primary who will be our leader.

13 years ago

Make the RI GOPers very small tent, even
smaller.Good move.

13 years ago

Harry, I could not disagree more. If you close the primary then the ranks of Republicans will swell. We can argue this all day. I just hope the GOP gives me the opportunity to prove my side.

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
13 years ago

One) having an open primary for decades now hasn’t done anything to expand the RIGOP, as the electoral record shows beyond doubt.
Two) how many independents actually take time to vote in a primary unless they have an agenda?
Three) in 2006, had there been a close primary, Steve Laffey would have won and been the candidate. As we’ve seen with Sheldon Whitehouse’s recent oratorical theatrics, Steve Laffey would have cleaned his clock in debates, and so it’s a fair supposition that Steve Laffey could well have won the general election.
Had that occurred, the Democrats would not have had their 60 votes to push through Obamacare on Christmas Eve.
If only the RIGOP primary had been closed.
Case closed.

13 years ago

The matter depends on what risks you are willing to take. A closed primary allows for your core party supporters to have a larger role in choosing the candidates you run for general. You lose people who usually wouldn’t support the party or politics but feels very strongly for a certain candidate. Obvioulsy in RI this takes on diff significance given the primary electorate for the GOP is much smaller than that of the Dems and in general their is more support for more liberal social policy. If the GOP closes its primary, you allow for more solid (but not necc.stronger)conservatives to run in the general. In 2006 this would have been more of a benefit given the candidates. As a whole, closing the primaries seems risky even though the intent is right on. What is better for the minority party, running stronger ideological candidates who may not gain general election support or candidates that may be weak yet appeal more to others? The open primary hasnt worked for the GOP yet, so it may be worthwhile to try to close it. To be honest, what as a party does the GOP have to lose?

13 years ago

So the majority of the state’s voters are independent, and the plan to attract them is to tell them we couldn’t care less about your preferences? You couldn’t hurt the GOP more if you beat it with a stick.

13 years ago

Marc you stated,
…” Chairmain Gio Cicione has stated that he won’t call the meeting until after the 2010 elections….”
Not true!!
Gio Cicione has said he’s fine with the Rep party’s state Central Committee voting on this issue at their next scheduled meeting. What Cicione is not in favor of is having Laffey pull the strings of his ‘bots and calling for a “special meeting” just so the rules can be changed in time for Stevie.
If so many RI Republicans feel so strongly about this issue why wasn’t this change voted through 6 months ago?? Or 1 year ago?? Or 3 years ago?? Maybe because Laffey wasn’t even living in the state he claims to love so much?? Maybe because Laffey wasn’t even remotely interested in and/or involved with the party he’s now trying to take hijack?
We know why and it’s unholy and it’s illegitmate.
It’s funny how so many of you in favor of this shananagans were the first to bitch and moan when Massachusetts Democrats changed the rules in midstream so they could fill Ted Kennedy’s seat to help Obama.
Be consistent people.

13 years ago

Tim, I’m pretty sure I heard Cicione state clearly to John DePetro that it ain’t happening until 2010 so long as he’s chair, but I’ll grant that maybe I’m missing some semantics here. Speculation is wide that Laffey is involved here, but the call for a closed primary isn’t unique to just Rhode Island…the John McCain nomination started the wheels going in various state GOPs, believe me.
Finally, that’s about the hundredth time I’ve heard the Mass Dem. talking point and it still misses the mark. It would be one thing if the GOP opened the primary 3 years ago and then tried to close it now—assuming the Laffey conspiracy (which he’s discounted btw) that would be as nakedly partisan as the Mass. example. But, as explained above, this is something that’s been bubbling for a while (coincidentally since 2006 around here and given impetus after the last presidential election.)

13 years ago

You need to get out more. There are so many facts you don’t have. There has been a movement to close the primary for years. Some things take time. Six months ago it did not pass the Executive Board. This time it did. Those who fear they would lose in a primary are pushing, as they have been, to squash this. My take, what do I care if one Republican replaces another. It seems like they’re only looking out for their own special interest. Sorry not going to be a part of that.

13 years ago

bobc, I think I have a very good handle on what’s going on here. Once again, why the urgency now? Why the need for a “special meeting” to get this done now when you don’t even have a declared candidate? Your “some things take time” quip is silly and disingenuous.
We ALL know why this is being pushed right now and we ALL know who is behind it.

13 years ago

This debate within the RIGOP seems like a case of misguided priorities. With all due respect to the folks who are spending what seems like a lot of time and energy on the question of open v. closed primary, or perhaps better described as a debate over the most appropriate time frame for voters to affiliate with a party for the purpose of taking part in a primary, isn’t this energy better spent on finding candidates to fill (and overfill) slates at all levels of government to make this current debate relevant? After all, the GOP has only 1 candidate (Wallin) announced for the statewide elections that are now less than 10 months away and has historically struggled to find candidates to run for all GA seats and to fill all ballot positions in the local races. The RIGOP should be so successful to actually have primaries this fall.

13 years ago

God as my witness, not only does Steve Laffey have nothing to do with the current issue, which is whether or not the state Republican party will be “allowed” to even debate the issue of “closing” the primary, nevermind actually vote on it, from everything I’ve heard, he could really care less at this point. It’s no secret that Laffey is not enamored of the RIGOP as an entity. This current media debacle is not changing his perception, nor really of those who support him.
The issue now is how much power should the chair have over the policy of the party. Whether he cares to admit it or not, Gio is making himself the issue. As of right now, not only does he not intend to call the “special” meeting on the 19th of January as requested by the RIGOP Executive Committee, but has made it very clear to a number of party folks, including myself, that he will not call for another state party meeting until he absolutely “has to” which according to a very literal reading of our bylaws, techically is 100 days from January 1st … or March 1st.
That also means, that for all the alleged importance that was implied or expressed of passing a Republican Party platform, that there will be no opportunity to pass that in a timely manner (if we could even agree on one) to affect the 2010 elections either.
Things are going to come to a head very shortly. I am now compltely satisfied after speaking with Gio, that he is walking into what is to come with his eyes wide open. I’ve done my best to avoid all this, and what is to come, that’s all I can do. Stay tuned.

13 years ago

Self correction: Gio said to me, the 1st week of March, not the 1st of March, just to be completely clear. In either event, this is no way to run a functioning party.

13 years ago

So you’re going to force Gio out huh?
Good for Gio!
Btw Will, love your parsing of words.
“God as my witness, not only does Steve Laffey have nothing to do with the current issue, which is whether or not the state Republican party will be “allowed” to even debate the issue of “closing” the primary, nevermind actually vote on it, from everything I’ve heard, he could really care less at this point.”
No one is alleging Laffey is involved in this current controversy Will.
Nice try!
What is being alleged and what is very true is Laffey’s been THE reason (and the behind the scenes player) in this “big rush” to change the primary rules during an election window.
I have no doubt Laffey’s not happy about this. He and his minions are smelling bad right now. Popping Gio will only add to the stench.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
13 years ago

RI is a little like the Deep South of the 50’s when the primary WAS the election.RI is essentially a one party state in many respects.I live in the 2nd Distirct.This year Mark Zaccaria is running against langevin so I can ignore the primary.Twice in the past I’ve voted in the Democratic primary although I’m normally unaffiliated to vote against Kate Coyne-McCoy and Jennifer Lawless,because I had only that chance to make my vote count for something.The general election wasn’t really being contested seriously.I also got to vote against David Cicilline,whom I despise.
I sometimes vote for Democrats in the general election on a state level because they are sometimes more conservative than the RINO opposing them.Case in point:Ruggerio vs.Spaziano.
The mere thought of Lila Sapinsley calling herself a Republican is vomit inducing.Thankfully she’s supporting the jellyfish Chafee.
This has something to do with Laffey,and I don’t think he’s as electable as others may believe.I could be wrong of course.

13 years ago

Tim, Tell me, are you a member of the Republican Party? You say you “think” you have a good handle on things, that is not the same as having a handle on things. We can all parse words. The Republican Party has an identity crisis and we need to close ranks to deal with it. If this is not palatable to you, find another Party.

13 years ago

bobc, you the hell are you?
I’ll answer.
Put that in your palatable party pipe and smoke it.
We all know what’s going on in the Republican party right now and why.
We also know who is behind it.
Handle that!! lol

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