April 26, 2006

Matt Brown is Out

Carroll Andrew Morse

The ProJo 7-to-7 blog has picked up an Associated Press report saying that Matt Brown has officially dropped out of the Rhode Island Democratic Senate primary.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

I've heard two theories . . . one theory says this helps Laffey, because Dems. will now cross into the Repub. primary to vote for the easier to beat candidate (Laffey) to give Sheldon a free pass.

The other view is that it helps Chafee, because independents and some Dems. will now vote Repub. in order to vote AGAINST Laffey.

The big winner at this point is Sheldon, because it allows him to conserve resources for the general election.

Posted by: brassband at April 26, 2006 4:30 PM

Will, now that Brown is out as I predicted, can I have my Kreskin crystal back?

This helps Chafee far more than Laffey, but Whitehouse is the real winner.

The only competitive primary for unaffiliated voters is now the GOP primary. The moderate unaffiliated voter is Chafee's base and I'd say this race is now his to lose.

Posted by: Anthony at April 26, 2006 4:57 PM


You may have your Kreskin crystal back.

However, I would contend that this is a positive in several ways for Laffey, and in one way for Whitehouse.

I will elaborate on that a little bit later tonight.

As far as I'm concerned, this is wonderful news.

Posted by: Will at April 26, 2006 5:18 PM

I'm interested to hear the spin on how this helps Laffey.

Posted by: Anthony at April 26, 2006 8:18 PM

Brassband is corret. The big winner is Whitehouse. He can conserve resources and not get hit from his fellow Democrats except for token attacks from Sheeler. Since there are other competitve Democratic primaries such as Lt. Gov and Sec. of State, which will draw liberal independents, it is not a win for Chafee. Nevermind the local mayor/council and state legislative Democratic primary races which are continually discusssed on rifuture.org. There will be some liberal independents voting for Chafee in the primary and some voting for Laffey believing he is the weaker candidate. Basically, the Republican primary will be very dominated by Republicans and independents who are closet Republicans, which means a Laffey win.

One more twist is that Whitehouse/national Democrats will now focus on attacking Chafee to weaken him (especially for the primary with independents) by saying he is a waffler or the Washington GOP's guy etc, which would actually help Laffey.

Things are just getting more complicated and fun.

Posted by: Fred Sanford at April 26, 2006 9:15 PM

What really knocked Matt Brown out of this race is the wild-eyed spending spree that his campaign engineered, plowing through $1.3 million in warp speed. He could have weathered the scandal if he had held some funds in a prudent reserve. When it comes down to brass tacks, the primary role of Congress is how to spend and/or not spend our money and how much of our money they want to spend in the first place. Trust fund babies like Brown and Whitehouse and Chafee are just not geared toward fiscal prudence. Wasteful spending is just fine according to Chafee, as long as it benefits Rhode Island. Laffey certainly doesn't think this way, and his meager campaign spending up to this point is evidence of this mentality. The Brown debacle shows that we need leaders who are well-rounded and who can navigate financial statements at least half as well as they can navigate yacht clubs.

Posted by: bountyhunter at April 26, 2006 9:54 PM

OK, it is a stretch, but I see where the Laffey camp spin is going.

My thoughts-
1. Primaries. I don't think the Democrat primary between deRamel and Mollis for Secretary of State or the Lt. Gov.'s race is going to draw unaffiliated voters. Heck, I didn't even know there was a Democrat Lt. Gov. primary (who is running against Roberts?). Unaffiliated voters will show up for federal races and a gubernatorial race. That's it. There's only one race that will attract attention this September and it's Chafee/Laffey, not deRamel/Mollis.

Fred, it's an admirable attempt at spinning, but your suggestion that the Secretary of State Dem. primary will draw unaffilated voters away from the Senate race is just that, spin.

2. Trust Fund Babies. The class warfare angle over trust fund babies doesn't work. Whitehouse got elected AG, Chafee is a senator, Pell was a wealthy senator, Brown was elected Secretary of State, deRamel is leading in the current race for Secretary of State. I could go on.

Many Rhode Islanders view wealth positively believing that such "trust fund babies" are honest and can't be bought. You can try to differentiate self-made from inherited but Rhode Islanders haven't responded to the differentiation in the past. The argument is a non-starter and wealth status isn't something that Rhode Islanders vote on.

Bennett and York both tried to play the "Carcieri is a rich CEO" angle and it failed. It seems that alot of Laffey's talk points are reminiscent to the ones that lost the primary for Bennett. They just don't work.

3. Fiscal Prudence. As for fiscal prudence, Chafee is recognized as being one of the most fiscally conservative senators in terms of spending and has actually received awards from the Concord Coalition for it. His liberalism comes into play over tax cuts, not spending.

4. Brown's problems were self-inflicted, and the early spending was more indicative of a neophyte candidate than anything else.

5. Negativity. I agree that the national Democrats may begin to target Chafee and this could help Laffey, but only on a limited basis. The attacks on Chafee will most likely be through sporadic party press releases, not through a well-funded effort.

In 2000, Chafee stood aside while Weygand and Licht tore each other apart in the Democrat primary, while Chafee conserved his money for the general election. This time it will be the Democrats' turn.

They will stand aside and watch as Laffey and Chafee spend their money to beat each other up in the primary. Whitehouse will avoid spending his cash until the general.

Instead of attacking Chafee, Whitehouse will use the primary period to build up his positives and try to position himself as a statesman as opposed to the two Republican candidates who will be tearing each otehr apart.

By using the primary period to build up his positives, Whitehouse can help innoculate himself from attacks in the general election.

Posted by: Anthony at April 26, 2006 10:39 PM

To amplify on Anthony's point about primaries:
Without a competitive Senate contest, the Dem primary is down to the good ole boys, who will probably vote for Mollis, enhancing Stenhouse's chance for SofS victory considerably.
Roberts' primary opponent for lt. gov is Spencer Dickinson, a former McGovernite-turned-conservative South County builder who will probably have more money than your average token primary opponent. His presence may force Laffey out of the closet on abortion - Dickinson may attract most of the hardcore antiabortion vote. Still, I don't see Kerry King being much of a factor.

Posted by: rhody at April 26, 2006 11:04 PM


Independents vote in primary races that are not federal or governor. Numerous municipal mayor elections can show you that as well as the A.G. Democratic race in 1998. I'll spare you various general officer races from the 1980s. Independents also vote in local races, where they get directly pulled by door to door contact to vote in the primary. By the way I thought you were well informed...Dickinson is running against Roberts and he has already run radio ads.

I don't spin. Spin would be saying that moderate independents who rarely or never vote in primaries, and never in Republican primaries, will be motivated to vote. (By the way, there is a rather small universe of independents who have a history of voting in either primary). Primaries are about intensity. Intense voters who show up are either: partisan, ideological or emotional. That is why Laffey beats Chafee and why he had record turnout in his 2004 primary.

Chafee's natural base is liberal, but liberals are split on him because of his party affiliation. Therefore, he is left with solid support from liberal to moderate Republicans, and electability first Republicans who tend to be moderate. This is not a large group of voters. Read some books on voter participation, moderate independents don't show up in primaries-they just can't get motivated, and Chafee's message certainly won't motivate them.

You are a good example of Chafee's primary election problem, you have stated you are voting for Chafee without much ethusiasm i.e you have The Time to Make the Donuts attitude to voting. This is simply terrible for a primary.

Lastly, spin would also be your false anaylsis of the Repub Governor primary in 1994 that you put on this blog last week.

Night, night.

Posted by: Fred Sanford at April 26, 2006 11:32 PM

Liberalism coming into play over tax cuts and not spending?????

Assuming that a balanced budget is a goal that we all deem desirable, it becomes a question of how we get there. Chafee does not care about spending, as evidenced by his strong affinity for $27b in pork and $125b-plus in corporate welfare annually. He and his big business (read corporate welfare recipient)friends at Concord are for balanced budgets irrespective of tax increases.

With a mentality towards cutting taxes (rather than tax and spend), budgets will naturally gravitate lower.

Taxes and spending are not their own vacuums. Sensible fiscal policy views them in unison.

Posted by: bountyhunter at April 26, 2006 11:42 PM

Fred, I assume that your referring to me labeling pro-choice, pro-union Lincoln Almond as a moderate rather than a conservative? Almond was a moderate outsider. Machtley was a moderate insider. Neither was a conservative. Machtley had the endorsement of many town committees but lost. The point of my posting was to show a.) you can bring new voters into a GOP primary and b.) most town committee endorsements don't carry any weight. I stand by those comments.

I remember Dickinson. He ran against Reed, right? I haven't heard his commercials yet. Seems like he'll be a token candidate.

I agree with your assertion that it is more difficult to get moderate unaffiliated to the polls than ideologues. But the number of moderate unaffiliateds in RI is HUGE compared to the number of conservatives and with the amount of money that will be spend in this primary they will be contacted.

You can say that I'm an example of Chafee's problem because I'm not overflowing with enthusiasm about voting for Chafee. But I am enthusiastic about keeping the Senate majority, I am conservative and I am voting for Chafee.

Posted by: Anthony at April 27, 2006 12:19 AM

There are certainly a near infinite number of ways to "spin" this, so I'll try to avoid the temptation.

Pretty much any way you slice this, it is bad for Chafee. There being two Republican primary candidates, it then makes it a net positive for Laffey. Basically, it comes down to this: the Democrats, now that they essentially have their nominee, will start focusing all of their efforts on bashing Chafee, in order to weaken his strength among independents. It also frees the DNC and other organizations to start spending pre-primary. This means that Laffey can spend more of his own efforts in promoting what he'll do for Rhode Islanders, instead of wasting effort and resources wailing away at Chafee. Chafee in turn will be forced to use his own resources much earlier than he was probably planning to, in order to constantly defend himself against Whitehouse's attacks -- which means that he will be using less resources to bash Laffey. Basically, Whitehouse and Chafee get to duke it out, wasting millions of dollars fighting each other, while Laffey's raising money and building his grassroots support.

The other interesting dynamic is that there are a number of other primaries on the Democrat side this year other than US Senate. At least the Lt. Gov, Secretary of State (could a Brown bid now make it 3?), Cranston Mayor, Warwick Mayor, are going to have Dem primaries. That will tend to make Democrats want to stay Democrats, in order to make a difference in their own party's primary.

Why this is very good for Laffey: Brown's campaign message in some ways duplicated Laffey's own efforts, in that Brown tried to paint himself as the "outsider" candidate, or the candidate of the "little guy". Now that Brown's out, Laffey is the only outsider candidate left in the race from either party. What you basically have left now are two limousine liberal insiders against one true outsider from a blue collar background. Compound that with that neither of the liberal candidates is particularly friendly, if not actually openly hostile, to those of either party who vote based on values (i.e. pro-life, family issues, etc.). Basically, Chafee and Whitehouse are largely feeding off of the same base of support. Independents who are frustrated with Washington or who feel victimized by special interests, are just not going to be coming out in droves to bail Linc out this time. If anything, they'll tend to be attracted by Laffey's outsider "fix things up" populist message.

Lastly, as I've stated previously, those Democrats and/or Unaffililated voters who absolutely want a Democrat in the US Senate will not settle for a pale imitation of a Democrat in that seat, when they can just as easily get the real thing. If anything, some liberals will actually vote for the "conservative" Laffey (a label that he doesn't apply to himself), in the thought that he would be the weaker candidate in the general election.

I don't care how many different ways you look at this, it is not good for Chafee.

Posted by: Will at April 27, 2006 1:13 AM

hey! what's all this talk about Sheldon not having a primary?

let's not forget about Carl Sheeler! ;)

Posted by: johnb at April 27, 2006 5:35 AM

Good Morning, Anthony

1, Dickinson is not a token opponent if he can spend some real money, which apparently what he is willing to do.

2, Spending lots of money contacting moderate independents will be a waste of money for Chafee because these voters are very hard to motivate to vote in a primary in the first place and Chafee has no message to motivate them. A message matters, not just money.

3, When you brought up the Repub Governor primary, it was not in response to or in the context of town committee endorsments, that is your spin now. True, Almond is a moderate, but at the time (read the ProJo articles from back then) he was seen and was supported conservatives. Matchley did not have the base and Almond the moderate independents, which was the actual point of your spin last week.

As I have said before, just stick to character attacks and away form in-depth political analysis which requires knowledge of history. You can respond to me but I think at this point this is kind of boring. I think your time would be better spent pleading with some moderate independents.

Posted by: Fred Sanford at April 27, 2006 7:18 AM

Time will tell if I'm right or now. If you read today's Projo, it echoes my sentiments that this allows Chafee to get independents and that the Democrats will watch the Republicans self-destruct rather than spend alot of resources attacking Chafee.

Look you can claim that Laffey can attract independents and is "winning" the election despite the fact that every poll taken shows Laffey losing in both the primary AND the general.

You can brag about Laffey's fundraising prowess even though Chafee still has more money on hand.

You can talk about broad-based support even though Laffey's numbers stay at around 30% and over 70% of Laffey's contributors are from out of Rhode Island, a far higher percentage that those of Chafee or Whitehouse.

If you want to believe your own spin, it doesn't bother me. Alot of people dimissed my prediction that Brown would leave the race. Time will tell.

Posted by: Anthony at April 27, 2006 7:42 AM


If memory serves, on this very blog you also predicted that Chafee would support the Alito nomination. Some right, some wrong I guess but after Alito, you disappeared from this Blog for almost 2 months.....

How long will you be gone when Chafee loses?


Posted by: Carl Elliott at April 27, 2006 9:41 AM

You're correct. I thought Chafee should have come down on the other side and vote for Alito. I based my guess on Chafee's prior support for Ashcroft. During those proceedings, Chafee defended the President's right to choose his own appointees.

Assuming that Chafee was going to be intellectually consistent, I thought he would support Alito and he conveniently found a different reason for opposing Alito.

Chafee is quirky and not always intellectually consistent. Predicting his individual actions is somewhat more difficult than using objective data (poll numbers, fundraising numbers, etc.) to make predictions about races (fyi, my absence from the blog for awhile had far less to do with Chafee's Alito vote and more to do with things that weren't politically related).

Surely Chafee's quirkiness doesn't surprise anybody on this blog, it's one of the reasons Laffey gives for why Republicans shouldn't vote for Chafee.

When I view the Senate race, I try to be as objective as possible. Right now the numbers aren't looking good for Laffey and I wave the BS flag when I question the Laffey spin put out by many of the pro-Laffey commenters. I also did it when I saw Chafee making unsubstantiated assumptions about the reasoning behind Laffey's pro-Israel position.

Does my belief that Laffey can't win a general election mean that there is a 100% chance that he can't win a general election? Of course not. But I'm usually right far more often than I'm wrong. There is always a mathematical chance, but for the moment it doesn't look like good for him.

Don't get me wrong, things can always change. If a RISDIC-type scandal hit the news tomorrow and RI's entire financial system was in jeopardy, I think Laffey's background and style would significantly enhance his chances, maybe even turn him into an overnight front-runner with some well-placed media.

For Laffey to win, he needs to get people to the "we're not going to take it anymore" level of anger and I just don't see it happening right now.

Posted by: Anthony at April 27, 2006 3:38 PM

Anthony, I know you need the last word, but when you are spinning for Chafee, please use correct facts. For example, Laffey did not have a much higher percentage out of state contributions than Chafee as you previously asserted. The ProJo reported that Chafee raised 62% from out of state contributors while Laffey raised 67%, that's not much of a difference. The real difference is, of course, that Chafee's percentage, I believe, does not include over $600,000 in PAC donations from D.C. Hmm.

Ok, you can now post a character attack or talk about electability again.

P.S. Carl, that was too funny.

Posted by: Fred Sanford at April 27, 2006 6:07 PM

Based on FEC filings, www.opensecrets.org shows Laffey getting 67% of his contributions from out-of-state, Chafee getting 51% of his contributions from out-of-state, and Whitehouse getting 61% of his contributions from out-of-state.

Posted by: Anthony at April 27, 2006 7:06 PM

The Projo story that appeared this month on the Sunday front page stated Chafee had 62% of his donations coming from out of state, and Chafee's campaign manager did not refute that number. Do you think he should ask for a retraction, now? It appears that the open secrets numbers you are presenting could be incomplete, and in any case it certainly doesn't count the $600,000 in D.C. PAC money.

Can you go bother someone else now, or do you really need to get the last word?

Posted by: Fred Sanford at April 27, 2006 10:04 PM

Fred, don't you know that Karl Rove gives me an extra 10% if I post the last comment? Plus it's part of my union contract.

Posted by: Anthony at April 28, 2006 4:57 PM