December 5, 2005

National Republicans Believe Chafee can Win Rhode Island Without Republican Votes

Carroll Andrew Morse

Originally, we thought that Steve Laffey was the only RI Republican disliked by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Now, it turns out that the national party is abandoning all Republicans in Rhode Island (with the exception of Lincoln Chafee).

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee website is reporting (with an attribution to a C-SPAN2 discussion on December 1) that Brian Nick, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has stated that Senator Lincoln Chafee needs no support from Republican voters to win a Senate campaign in Rhode Island…

Nick: “Senator Chafee doesn’t need Republicans to vote for him.”

Guy Cecil [Political Director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee]: “Well, he’ll need a few Republicans to get through the Primary, won’t he?”

Nick: “No.”

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They are apparently counting on the independents to come out for the primary and keep Chafee in place.

Posted by: citizenjane at December 5, 2005 10:55 AM

All the more reason for Republicans to show up for the primary and vote against Chafee!

This gambit worked for the RNC / Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania ... lot's not let it happen here. We need to get the RINO's OUT of the party, not protect them.

Posted by: Tom W at December 5, 2005 11:35 AM

Off topic, but our friends over at RIFuture have this to say about unions in Rhode Island:

"I can’t believe you have the nerve to say that Rhode Island is like China right now.

Answer the following questions:

1) How many union jobs have left Rhode Island in the last 10 years?

2) How many of the factories remaining have ‘temp-ed’ out their entire factories to temp companies thereby forbidding their employees from unionizing?

3) What are the 3 fastest job types in RI?

4) Have inflation-adjusted wages in RI increased or decreased in the last 20 years?

5) What is the average cost of a home for a first-time home buyer?

Please answer these questions and then assert once again how union have ANY sort of power in Rhode Island?"

Posted by: liberal tipster at December 5, 2005 11:58 AM

This was John McCain's presidential primary strategy in 2000. It worked for a while in those states with "open" primaries. If you ask me, primaries should be "closed" to only registered party members. Having them open can lead to skullduggery. Along with this, there should also be stricter limits on the # of times one can disaffiliate and affiliate so as to hinder the shenanigans that went on in Cranston during the last mayoral election.

Posted by: Marc at December 5, 2005 12:01 PM

Thank you for picking up on this story. I actually saw the exchange over the weekend myself, and literally did a double-take. I know that the NRSC hasn't been on the ball recently, but if they are really expecting Sen. Chafee to win the Rhode Island Republican Primary without ANY Republican support: the guy either misspoke, doesn't have a clue about the political dynamics at work here, or is just plain dumb (I'm going with option #3).

I think you can tell from the tone of the Democrat in the discussion that even he thought that Brian Nick had simply flubbed it, as he then gave Mr. Nick a shot at taking back the silly statement. As Mr. Nick definitely didn't take advantage of that generous opportunity, he must have actually meant what he said, as incredulous as that is.

I certainly think it is reasonable statement that Sen. Chafee could win reelection in the GENERAL ELECTION without any Republican support, since Republicans make up only about 10% of the electorate in Rhode Island. However, the "problem" for Chafee is that he won't get to the general election if he doesn't make it through the Republican Primary first. Independents can vote in either party's primary in Rhode Island (we have an "open" primary system). However, as there is a contested Democratic primary (Whitehouse, Brown, Sheeler), there is a huge disincentive for normally Democrat-leaning independents to try to vote in the GOP primary instead. Even if some did, it is entirely reasonable to assume that they would want to vote for someone other than the incumbent.

Of course, all of this leads me to the practical, albeit entirely speculative conclusion, that Chafee might not stay in the Republican Party until the September primary, in order to avoid that "problem."

Posted by: Will at December 5, 2005 3:26 PM

Will's comments are on the mark regarding the Democratic primary (Whitehouse, Brown, Sheeler) serving to keep the Democratic leaning independents out of the Republican Senatorial primary. I would simply add that if that doesn't do it, maybe it will be the Democratic primary for Mayor of Warwick, or the Democratic primary for Mayor of Cranston, or the Democratic primary for Secretary of State, or any other Democratic primary in this state, and it appears their will be many, that keep those Democratic leaning independents out of the Republican primary.

Furthermore, does the Republican party in Washington truly believe that their heavy-handed attacks and highly visible support of any candidate in true-blue Rhode Island would be viewed favorably by the majority of those Democratic leaning independents that did go into a Republican primary? I suspect this alone may serve to alienate many of those Democratic leaning independents that might otherwise have come out for Chafee.

I cannot help but think the Republican party in Washington has seriously miscalculated this primary race. Time will tell.

Posted by: Jim Hackett at December 5, 2005 5:47 PM

liberal tipster,
You are right to be offended by the China comparison.
China has a much more modern and free market economy than Rhode Island.
Rhode Island is much more socialist and communist than China is these days.
I can see where you Rhode Island liberals would take offense at the China reference. lol

Posted by: Tim at December 5, 2005 6:44 PM

you seem to be making a huge assuption that Democrat-leaning independents are turned on by the Whitehouse/Brown/Sheeler primary and therefore will turn out for that primary. I don't see that at all. In my opinion none of the three have any broad appeal with any particular group.
I think for most independent voters the Chafee/Laffey contest is going to be very high profile and the one most will be drawn to.

Posted by: Tim at December 5, 2005 6:54 PM