January 30, 2006

Can Republicans be Confident in Chafee?

Marc Comtois

So asks NROs Ramesh Ponnuru:

I haven't thought this race held as much potential for conservatives as the Specter vs. Toomey race did in 2004. I thought Toomey had a greater chance of winning a general election than I think Laffey does now. But as Chafee's Alito vote shows, the downside of backing the conservative insurgent is lower, too. What would Chafee do if the Republican majority in the Senate depended on his vote? How much confidence can anyone have that he would stay a Republican under those circumstances?
I hadn't really seriously considered the prospect, but it strikes me as no small leap to ask if he'd pull a Jefford's if his "conscience" so dictated? I know he's said he wouldn't in the past, but can Republican Chafee supporters really be so sure? (Incidentally, the link to Sen. Chafee's statement--made shortly after he voted for President George H.W. Bush--is no longer anywhere to be found on the Senator's web site).

Here's Senator Chafee's official statement on Alito (PDF) and here is Mayor Laffey's official response.

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TO THE CHAFEE CAMP

The Battle of Alito is over, and Chafee's decision has cost him the Republican Primary. Like the Battle of Atlanta, this battle shows that Mayor Laffey's victory in the Republcian primary is inevitable and Chafee's defeat is certain. There was a solid majority in favor of Laffey before. Chafee's decision makes that a super-majority for Mayor Laffey among Republicans. The liberal independents will not save Chafee for they are angry with him on other votes like the filibuster. Some liberals may vote for Mayor Laffey believing he is the weaker candidate. Also, many independents in this state are conservative while liberals are registered Democrats. I make this statement not to gloat, but to counsel.

To the loyal Chafee staffers who are Republican, you have been loyal, but Chafee is not his father. His father voted for Thomas when it was a tough vote. His son is not a Republican, he is a liberal. He could have voted for Alito, but instead followed his own predilictions. His decision has jeopardized your jobs. Your only choie now is to send out resumes, and protect your families. Chafee has enough money not to worry about his decisions, you do not. For the Chafee staffers who are not Republicans, your only hope is for Chafee to become an independent. He can win a general election, but he can not win the Republican primary.

For Republicans who have support Chafee, your support is wasted in a lost cause. If he stays Republican he will be defeated. If he becomes independent, you will be further betrayed. Mayor Laffey like President Lincoln will show "charity to all, and malice to none". If Mayor Laffey can reconcile with the Cranston School Department, he can work with any of you.

Supporting Chafee becaase he can win in November is shortsighted. We have no assurance he will not become a Democrat someday. In 2001, and 2004 he openly spoke of leaving the party. We can not be ceratin what he will do. We can be certain is that he will vote liberal on major issues like tax cuts, national security and the Court while Laffey will vote with the Republicans.

The time is now to forget Chafee, for he has forgotten all of you. You can respond to this with disbelief, bravado or attacks. I will not respond except to say your response will come on Sept. 12th if Chafee stays in the primary. My words may go unnoticed, but they are recorded. Support Mayor Laffey, it is the right thing to do for yourself and our party.

Posted by: Gen. W.T. Sherman at January 30, 2006 5:15 PM

Why do people (such as the NRO guy)seem to believe that Laffey is the clear underdog in a general election? The punters in London say otherwise. Reagan won RI. The Laffey compaign continues to build momentum almost daily. As the Cranston mayoral races demonstrate, Laffey wears increasingly well as the campaign progresses and is a first-rate speaker and tireless door-to-door campaigner. Laffey is well-funded. Brown and Whitehouse generate no excitement and are clearly not first-rate candidates and bring nothing new to the table. We have no idea how they would hold up over the course of the campaign, particularly after they get in Laffey's sights. Chafee's political career is now effectively over. History will show that the Alito charade was the tipping point of this Senate race.

Posted by: bountyhunter at January 30, 2006 7:07 PM

"The US Senate is a fascinating and intriguing institution", says L Chafee in the opening line of his statement as to why he should be re-elected. This is nothing but a game to him, little more than some type of academic exercise for self-gratification. No consistent ideology. Not even a semblance of loyalty to his party. Not even enough concern for RI to actually live here.

Above all - no loyalty to his country or the bedrock principles our founding fathers stood for. "My vote doesn't matter", he famously said after corrupting the voting process by the George Bush Sr. write-in charade. He thinks it is all an irrelevant joke. He cozies up to anti-US dictators like Assad and Chavez to add further insult to our democratic principles.

The only thing that matters to this Chafee is himself. Raw egomania at its highest level. His actions speak of either a)someone who is trying to be calculating but miserably failing at the effort or b) an abject fool mentally playing with only a partial deck of cards.

Underlying it all is this overarching need to be in the spotlight, yet through sneaky-type means rather than by exhibiting true leadership or charisma.

It is one thing to be a maverick and a contrarian with a purpose in mind. It is quite another to just do weird things just to get headlines. He does get the headlines, though. They aren't the ones that you or I would necessarily want, though. And certainly not the ones that are befitting of a US Senator.

Chafee needs to exit this race - period. No running as an independent. Conservatives should not settle for that outcome. We should be satisfied with nothing less than total withdrawal. He is a disgrace to our party, our state, and our country.

Posted by: bountyhunter at January 30, 2006 7:37 PM

Bountyhunter, that is some very insightful analysis youve got going on I was at first surprised to see you more or less refer to Chafee as being an egomaniac. I mean, the guy comes across as being more of a doormat. However, after digesting this notion, Id say it does appear in some perverse way that hes liking the attention hes getting on this Alito vote---albeit negative.

It kind of reminds me of the token shy kid in grade school who was too afraid to raise his hand in front of the class, but would always wind up doing devious things to get attention---like setting off the fire alarm!

Well, the fire trucks have arrived and I wouldnt be surprised to find Chafee secretly relishing in the chaos hes created.

Posted by: ian at January 30, 2006 9:43 PM

Ian:
(Hopefully not the same Ian that has an office on Post Road in Warwick) "You said "It kind of reminds me of the token shy kid in grade school who was too afraid to raise his hand in front of the class, but would always wind up doing devious things to get attention---like setting off the fire alarm!"
Well,The news footage that I saw tonight was more like the deer after the headlights, with a chevron brand on his chest. Yes that was a bow to his many Big Auto kickbacks, oh I'm sorry campaign contributions. Chafee knows he is doomed and is trying to get the left to put their own primary's aside and he is hoping that they will disaffiliate and come to his rescue on horse back like the rough riders. Unfortunatly, much like his predecessor against Laffey, Mr. Riley, it is not going to pan out. The only part of a horse Mr. Chafee is going to be seeing is the back end as he is taking up his new profession in October.

Posted by: ridesigner at January 30, 2006 10:55 PM

"Can Republicans be confident in Chafee?"

I assume you mean that rhetorically. For those of you unfamiliar with that word, let me translate it: NO.

Posted by: Will at January 31, 2006 1:49 AM