Rep. Brian Newberry Lobs a Bomb at Doherty Camp
Andrew mentioned this in his post yesterday about a Facebook “Reflection” from House Minority Leader Brian Newberry. Newberry is calling for Doherty to either drop out of the Congressional District 1 race completely, or change direction and run in Congressional District 2 against James Langevin.
I will admit that when I first heard the news of Doherty running in CD1, I was a bit confused. Why? Is Loughlin not running again? Will he push Loughlin out of the race? We’ve seen in recent weeks that yes, Loughlin is definitely running again and no, Doherty will not be able to push Loughlin out of the race. So what sense does this make? The Republicans don’t always have candidates with the most money or the best name recognition, but now they have two and they’re running for the same seat! To me, that makes very little sense in the grand scheme of things. Yes, each person has every right to run for any seat that he or she is eligible, but spreading the wealth would have seemed to make more sense, at least to me.
So what about eligibility and that second part of Newberry’s statement. Newberry suggested that Cumberland and Congressional District 1 resident Brendan Doherty should run against James Langevin in the 2nd District. We had a similar situation last year when Democrat Betsy Dennigan changed her official residence to her summer home in Narragansett so she could be a resident of CD2 and run against Langevin. However, Constitutional law says that her change wasn’t required. In fact, all the US Constitution says about residency requirements for Congress is
No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.
Note that it does address citizenship. It requires that the person be a US citizen for at least seven years. What it doesn’t say is that the person needs to be a citizen or even a “resident” of the state they are elected from, at least not until election day.
Previously, California passed a law about residency requirements for their Congressional and Senate seats, only to have it overturned by the 9th Circuit Court in 2000. We have numerous other examples of where a candidate was eligible to run for a federal seat not only when he didn’t live in the district he was to represent, but sometimes not even a resident of the state he was to represent!
WIth that information, it is completely legal for Col. Doherty to run for Congress in the CD2. As Newberry mentioned on WPRO yesterday, CD2 runs slightly more conservative than CD1. It will be a shame to have two great candidates, and their campaigns, bashing each other every step of the way to the primary. It will be a shame for both of these men to spend campaign money on showing why he is a better candidate for that Congressional seat than not just David Cicilline but also his Republican opponent. It would make far more sense to have just one Republican in the race focused on Cicilline for the next fourteen months, instead of being distracted by a primary. Maybe these two can keep the focus positive and if they do both insist on staying in the same race all the way to primary day, I hope they can combine their focus on Cicilline and make the double spotlight burn even hotter than just one would. The main goal here for both men should be to get a better representative for Rhode Island in Washington than what we currently have.