Group of Republicans Expresses Dissatisfaction with Leadership and asks to Caucus Separately — in 2005!
Following an unofficial vote of no-confidence in Robert Watson as Rhode Island House Minority Leader, and an official vote to replace him with Rep. Brian Newberry, Representatives Laurence Ehrhardt and Jack Savage have decided to caucus separately from the rest of the Republicans, according to a statement made by Rep. Ehrhardt on this morning’s WPRO Morning News.
This won’t be the first time in recent memory that House Republicans have split. Back in July of 2005, six Republican Representatives, led by then Representative Bruce Long, sent the following letter to Minority Leader Watson (reported in the Projo by Katherine Gregg) …
This is to inform you that, though we are, and remain, committed Republicans, we do not choose to remain active participants in the House Republican Caucus. We distinctly differ from the style of your leadership and that of the Whip, especially in the way business is comported on the floor of the House.One of the Republicans who signed the 2005 letter leaving the caucus was Jack Savage. The other signers were a pair of notable names: John Loughlin and Victor Moffit, and a pair of, um, not-as-notable names: Joseph Amaral and Joseph Scott (who eventually left the Republican party to become a Democrat). On the other hand, both Laurence Ehrhardt and Joseph Trillo stayed in the Watson-led wing of the Republicans in 2005, along with Carol Mumford, Nick Gorham, Susan Story, James Davey, Richard Singleton and William McManus.
I don’t understand Rep. Savage’s apparent attitude, that he should be able to bolt the caucus on repeated occasions when he disagrees with the leadership, but a majority of members shouldn’t replace the caucus leadership when they significantly disagree. And with all due respect to Rep. Ehrhardt, and understanding that there is obviously some backroom politics playing out here, legislative leadership positions do not have to be treated as lifetime appointments in order for a party organization within a legislature to function efficaciously for its members. To his credit, Rep. Watson is publicly expressing a view consistent with this, that his job is to continue to fight for his positions, whether he is Minority Leader or not.
One other note of historical interest — isn’t it quaint to see the scare quotes around the mysterious term “pension reform”, at the end of a news article from 2005.