June 1, 2006

Here Comes Anti-Chafee/Anti-Whitehouse Ad #1

Carroll Andrew Morse

The Laffey campaign has released its newest television ads. One is biographical and talks about Mayor Laffey's achievements as Mayor of Cranston. The other is a negative ad that makes the claim that Lincoln Chafee and Sheldon Whitehouse “agree on all the issues, taxes, spending [and] national security”. The ad goes on to say that Senator Chafee and Whitehouse are “addicted to special interest money. Whitehouse has taken $150,000, Chafee over $600,000”.

The dollar amounts presumably refer to the amount of money that Senator Chafee and former Attorney General Whitehouse have taken from political action committees. Data collected by the Federal Election Commission (current as of the last filing deadline) shows that Senator Chafee has received contributions from a mixture of business, labor, and ideological PACs and that Sheldon Whitehouse has taken the great bulk of his PAC contributions from either labor unions or from other Democratic politicians, with money from a few businesses and law-firms thrown in. The FEC website also lists that Steve Laffey has taken a total of $5,500 in contributions from two PACs, in addition to a number of in-kind contributions from the Club for Growth.

As long as candidates 1) are not manipulating the system to collect more money than is legally allowed 2) are not taking money from fringe groups and 3) are not taking money from groups diametrically opposed to their stated issue positions, I am disinclined to make much of an issue out of where campaign contributions come from, when I can discuss actual issues instead. I don't think that Lincoln Chafee, Steve Laffey, or Sheldon Whitehouse will change their issue positions because someone offers them a donation. The form of modern campaign fundraising is determined more by the maze of "reform" laws currently in place and not by any novel strategy on the part of candidates.

But the Chafee/Whitehouse comparison made in Laffey's ad goes right to the heart of the issue troubling many of Rhode Island's Republican voters. Are there any issues that Senator Chafee would like to talk about where he can meaningfully distinguish himself from a very liberal Democrat?

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There are none! Chafee is a liberal no matter what party he says he is a part of. No to Tax Cuts, no on Sam Alito; what else do I need to know.

Chafee will never debate Laffey either which will never fly in RI. The people will demand it and Chafee's handlers will never let it really happen.

J Mahn

Posted by: Joe Mahn at June 1, 2006 12:14 PM