Can the Opposition Machine Work?

Bill Felkner, of the Ocean State Policy Research Institute, which today announced Mike Stenhouse as its new Executive Director, recently offered a review of where the RI center-right stands as a coalition:

And while [Lincoln Chafee was running left and wooing the unions], the center-right was splintering to ineffectuality. Ken Block, the Moderate candidate, thought that his start-up party with a limited platform could somehow supplant the GOP with its national infrastructure responsible for two of the largest political landslides in our nation’s history. And he was willing to spend a considerable portion of his own wealth to do it. Imagine how that money could have been used to help the movement, rather than divide it.
And the largest group of center-right taxpayers in the state, the Tea Party movement, was completely caught off guard by the business coalition, RISC, when it endorsed Caprio. Why would a self-proclaimed “statewide” taxpayer group endorse a candidate without even consulting with the boots on the ground and the rest of the coalition?

To be honest, I’m not sure how much Ken and the Moderates count as center-right. I’ve certainly included them in descriptions of the movement in the past, but they’ve emerged more as liberal Democrats who, frustrated that they couldn’t use the Republican Party to do so, have formed a distinct party as a base from which to challenge the establishment Democrats with whom they would otherwise ally. Take away the labels, and Ken’s group is nearly as far left as Chafee, from what I can see.
But Bill does point to a real problem among the Rhode Island political opposition. Moderate Party aside, there are in some respects two center-right coalitions. OSPRI and the Tea Party form one core, and RISC forms the other, with other groups trying to navigate the turbulent waters between. The result has been unnecessary inefficiency and distracting conflict.
I’ve seen an imperfect parallel even at the town level, in Tiverton, where we’ve got Tiverton Citizens for Change (TCC), which is a RISC affiliate, and a local Tea Party Patriots group. Of course, at the town level, we’ve been able to work together, because each group has had a notably different focus and character. TCC has been primarily intent on town-level political strategy, while the Patriots are motivated more by state-to-national concerns.
At the state level, it would take more coordination than has proven possible to divide up the effort in a similar way, and it’s a shame. That’s true, not the least, because it surely contributed to the elevation of Lincoln Chafee to the governor’s office.

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michael
michael
10 years ago

Look at East Providence. And Governor Elect Chaffee. This wasn’t a union backed scheme, it was people voting for who they liked, and who they hope will better represent everybody.
The union attack strategy has failed, and will continue to do so. I almost drove off the road when I heard Helen Glover say the day before the election that people had to choose, us or them. The Tea party or The Unions. I knew then that in RI it was over, again for the Republicans. It just isn’t that clearly defined.
If the Republicans ever hope to get their act together and unify, they need to do so in a more inclusive way. In the past, the IAFF has supported both Republicans and Democrats, and would do so in the future if an all out anti-union war wasn’t so high on the conservative agenda.

Ken Block
10 years ago

Not center-right…just center.
First of all, the party has no stance on the social issues. Individual candidates take their own stands without a litmus test involved. The party is interested in candidates looking for common sense solutions to the State’s problems – and who are capable of forging compromise and consensus to get the job done.
I am pro e-verify, pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, pro-business, anti-tax, pro-less expensive government and had IMHO the best economic development ideas of the campaign.
The more extreme folks at RIF think that I am to the right of Dick Cheney – and the more extreme folks here at AR think that I am a direct descendant of Fidel Castro. Whatever. I take this as proof positive that I am in fact sitting directly in the middle of the political spectrum – a crucial place in the current dysfunction of Right/Left politics.
Voters need a better choice than candidates who cater to and mostly represent the extremes of the political spectrum.
Extremists on both wings hate the idea of the centered candidate. I believe that frustrated and angry voters will increasingly be attracted to solutions oriented, centered candidates who are not beholden to ideology but rather to actually making life better for the average citizen.

Tommy Cranston
Tommy Cranston
10 years ago

“First of all, the party has no stance on the social issues. Individual candidates take their own stands without a litmus test involved.”
Ken, you are a liar. Someone I know met with you and was told in essence “if you’re not for baby killing and sodomite marriage you cannot be part of my party”.
You’re position on sodomite marriage is further to the left of Obama.
Prove me wrong-give us the name of a single candidate you had who came out publicly against either killing babies or sodomite marriage.
Or..issue a statement right here saying such a person is welcome to run as a Moderate.
We’re waiting…

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

“the center-right was splintering to ineffectuality”
“there are in some respects two center-right coalitions. OSPRI and the Tea Party form one core, and RISC forms the other, with other groups trying to navigate the turbulent waters between.”
Exactly. And this is exactly what happens when there is poor leadership. There is no one for these people to follow, so they all start up their own groups, in hopes it will gain traction. There are two people in this state that really had a chance to pull the party together over the last 8 years, and both failed. When Carcieri realized that he was going to be such a powerless governor, the very first goal should have been to build the party from the ground up. Get every local Republican party to increase numbers, run candidates and slowly gain in the State House. He did none of that. The other one is Gio. He is the chair of the state party. His is really the one who should be bringing these groups together, all under one roof. The majority of what these groups say is all the same, so get them all on the same page.
Very frustrating.

Tabetha
Tabetha
10 years ago

Ken, out of curiousity, why start a separate party rather than aligning with the Libertarian Party? The Libertarian Party essentially espouses that the government should keep taxes and spending to key aspects of infastructure and stay away from legislating social initiatives that impede on citizens’ free will. The LP also validates that members may have differing views on issues such as abortion and gay marriage. The point is to keep the government’s power limited in both the economic and social lives of citizens. So, why create a new party? I am sure you have your reasons, but I am interested in why you don’t consider yourself a Libertarian.

Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
10 years ago

Ken Block,
I have to agreee with Tommy when he says “Ken, you are a liar.”
You, indeed, met with someone and all YOU could talk about was his religious beliefs. Your own people were shocked at how disrespectful you were for towards this particular individual. You absolutely had a litmus test for social issues.
The thought that people want what you have to offer surely wasn’t supported by the election results.
Look back on this blog and you will see that I predicted long before you announced it that you would be the Moderate party candidate. That is simply because I, like most people, realize you are nothing more than a little egomaniac. Or sure, you have some good ideas. Unfortunately, they are overshadowed by your own arrogance and blatant narcissism.
It’s quite obvious that you couldn’t deal with a personality that would surely overshadow your own.

mangeek
mangeek
10 years ago

Tommy and Mike C., the pendulum swung both ways when the Moderates were filtering potential candidates.
I’m a pretty hardcore social liberal and fiscal conservative, and during my time with the Moderates, I found my train of conversation regarding social issues going off far into lefty-land, and I was asked to not run as a Moderate this time around.
Long story short, a new party is going to draw a LOT of newcomers, folks who are rough-around-the-edges, and outsiders who need more experience or lessons in keeping their lips zipped or ‘politically’ getting their point across. It’s in the party’s interest to filter out the extremes so they can legitimately claim the ‘centrist’ label. If your candidate couldn’t shut up about ‘baby killing’ and ‘sodomite marriage’, I wouldn’t let him represent a centrist party either.

Sammy
Sammy
10 years ago

Tommy
Using the term “sodomite marriage” shows no knowledge of the definition of the word sodomy.
Oral sex is considered sodomy, so all folks who have ever engaged in oral sex, are sodomites.
Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich as examples

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