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.

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12 years ago

Jack Savage, the Republican who is a former teacher and principal in East Providence? That Republican Jack Savage?

Stephanie Sivalingam
Stephanie Sivalingam
12 years ago

Yes that Jack Savage, the Rep who co-sponsors binding arbitration bills whom I ran against last year.

12 years ago

Dan Yorke is covering all of this on the air now. The Republicans are puking all over themselves. First Ehrhardt comes out and says he can’t be a part of Newberry’s group and asks Fox for separate accomodations (yeah, that’ll happen). Ehrhardt claims that this is a “dark day for Rhode Island”. How many in Rhode Island know who Bob Watson even is?
Then last night, you have Joe Trillo explaining that he knows Bob Watson “drinks too much”. Really Joe? What else does Watson do, in your opinion? What else can you throw the guy under the bus for.
Add to all of this, Channel 12 reveals that Bob Watson previously had a DUI conviction in New Hampshire.
Sounds like it’s time to switch affiliations to I.

12 years ago

They tried having a separate GOP caucus a few years ago, which as I recall, flopped back then, too. Ehrhardt was the one who originally tipped off the press to the caucus vote. It was theatrics pure and simple.
Jack, while a nice guy, is not exactly what one might call a reliable Republican vote. Don’t expect intellectual consistency. As one of his constituents, I certainly don’t.
As for Bob, yes, he drinks. Not exactly a startling revelation for anyone who’s attended Republican fundraisers or pretty much anything else social. However, it would have been better left unsaid.

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