August 23, 2005

Insanity brought on by Laffey-phobia

Carroll Andrew Morse

The Executive Director of the Rhode Island Republican party, Jeff Deckman, has a simple message for Steve Laffey. Run for lieutenant governor of Rhode Island, and you might become President of the United States.

Deckman thinks Laffey’s best shot at the big time would be via the lieutenant governor seat. If Laffey won Fogarty’s old seat – as of right now, his only challenge would come from state Sen. Elizabeth Roberts (D-Dist. 28) – he would be in a “perfect” position to succeed Gov. Donald Carcieri when his term runs out in 2008 [sic], said Deckman….“A lot of governors run for president and do very well,” Deckman said
If the state GOP wants to discourage Mayor Laffey from running against Lincoln Chafee in a Senate primary, they are going to have to find a different line of reasoning. Steve Laffey will not run for lieutenant governor of Rhode Island.

In any system where governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately, the lieutenant governorship is a weak position. The governor cannot share too much executive authority with a position that could fall under opposition control. Nothing in Steve Laffey’s public record indicates that he is interested in parking for four years in a weak position.

Contrary to Mr. Deckman’s advice, the lieutenant governorship is not a great stepping stone. The office itself provides no intrinsic visibility. All the lieutenant governorship would gain Laffey is a guarantee of support from the state Republican establishment for the 2010 election. Ask James Bennett, the Republican party’s endorsed 2002 gubernatorial candidate, how much that support is worth. (Bennett got crushed by Don Carcieri in a primary, 32%-68%)

Being lieutenant governor would mean four years of clearing every public move with the guy in charge. That’s not Laffey’s style. He wants to be the guy in charge.

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Sadly, Mayor Laffey is being used by the Club for Growth and he doesn't know it. What is even more sad is that clearly, you have drank the kool-aid too.

Posted by: Ari at August 23, 2005 4:49 PM

Club for Growth is looking to unseat Chafee to send a message to other Republicans. Let's face it, no one thinks Laffey can win the general. For that matter, I don't think Laffey expects to win.

He'll run, lose the general election and move to DC where he'll get a beltway job just like Pat Toomey's, the guy who ran against Specter and is now Club for Growth's chairman.

Carcieri just about guaranteed Laffey a clear shot at the governorship of RI by asking him to join him on the ticket. I suspect Laffey refused it because he believes that the governorship of our small state is beneath him.

Posted by: Anthony at August 23, 2005 9:28 PM

For one moment, concede that whether Laffey should run for lieutenant governor or not is a separate issue than whether Laffey should run for Senate or not. With that in mind...

What do Edward DiPrete, Bruce Sundlun, Lincoln Almond, and Don Cacieri have in common? They all managed to become governor without becoming lieutenant governor first.

Meanwhile, of the lieutenant governors of the same period, Thomas DiLuglio, Richard Licht, Roger Begin, Robert Weygand, and Bernard Jackvony, only Weygand succeeded in winning a major elected position after being lt. gov. And Weygand thought so much of the lieutenant governorship, he left mid-term, knowing that a member of the opposite party (Almond) would appoint his replacement. Charles Fogarty joins the not-successful-after-being-lt-gov club next year.

Running for Lt. Gov. makes sense for either a local pol who is looking to build statewide name recognition, or someone who is really passionate about being #2. Laffey is already known statewide. And he's not passionate about being #2.

Posted by: Andrew at August 24, 2005 7:42 AM


You must remember a few things about the examples you gave. First, none of those Lt. Governors got along with the Governor. And please don't base your rebuttal on what you have read in the paper about those relationships, talk to folks who knew them. Also, all of your examples come from a time when the LT. Governor ran the Senate. The LT. Governor no longer does that and it is high time we found out what the relationship between a Governor and LT. Governor of the same party would be under this new system. Why couldn't the Governor, cede some responsibility to the LT. Governor of a particular subject area??

I agree, I don't think Laffey would make a good LT. Governo because he doesn't play second fiddle to anyone and he doesn't play well with others. You admit as much in your comment, so how does that make him a good US Senator should he win?? On the day after the election is he going to magically wake up humbled and ready to work WITH others and be one of a hundred??

I think Laffey, and Rhode Island, would best be served with him staying as the Mayor of Cranston and waiting 5 years to run for Governor.

Posted by: Ari at August 24, 2005 8:46 AM

I can't imagine Mayor Laffey wanting to have such a meaningless job as being Lt. Gov for 4 years. The office should be abolished -- it's a waste of money.
As much as it has been portrayed as some kind of "stepping stone", it's really a big political dead end, just like the AG's office. While I certainly do think that someone like Laffey has the intelligence and ambition to become President someday (I'm thinking 2018), I don't think a run for Lt. Gov would get him closer to that. All it would do is waste 4 yrs of his life, while he can do something truly productive and meaningful. He certainly shouldn't do it for the sole purpose of saving Chafee's sorry political butt.
I for one would love him to challenge Chafee. I voted for Chafee in 2000, and not a day has gone by when I haven't regreted it. He's outright betrayed what the GOP stands for, in addition to betraying our Commander-in-Chief so publicly. I support Laffey running, simply becuase he is far closer to mainstream principles of the Republican Party. Perhaps even as important, I want him to run, because I think he's more likely to win -- both the Primary and the General Election. Could you imagine Chafee debating Whitehouse -- ugh! Laffey can be a real leader and motivate people and provide the change we need.

Posted by: Will at September 2, 2005 1:17 AM