June 29, 2006

Laffey and Chafee on Yorke Show

Marc Comtois

{NB: This started as a brief re-cap of Mayor Steve Laffey's amicable return to the Dan Yorke show. Subsequently, State GOP Party official Chuck Newton and Senator Lincoln Chafee appeared.}

Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey and WPRO's Dan Yorke have buried the hatchet, hence, Laffey was on Yorke's show today to discuss the Senate race and why he would not be attending what he considers to be tonight's "fixed" RI GOP convention.

For the first time that I've heard, Laffey took on the accusation that he wasn't "senatorial" enough. He stated that if being "Senatorial" meant hanging out with Robert Byrd and doing nothing, then he never would be "Senatorial." He said that he's a reformer and that the actions of the Senate show that things need to be shaken up and that he plans on doing just that.

From there, he also explained that he wanted to shake the hold that the Old Line members have on the State GOP. He said they're happy with the scraps they get from the Democrats, don't want to rock the boat (and just want to collect fees for services) and they didn't want to win. He than offered that, "Luckily those people are old and are dying." He said that he's interested in building the State Party anew, from the ground up. Finally, he noted that Cranston was the only place that has seen a growth in GOP registrations in Rhode Island. He also that Governor Carcieri was not part of the Old Guard and affirmed his support for the Governor and his agenda.

Chances are that Yorke will have the audio somewhere here, eventually.

UPDATE: Chuck Newton of the RI GOP called in after Laffey and was on. When asked about Mayor Laffey skipping the convention, Newton stated that they'd been trying convince Laffey to attend. Newton observed that Laffey has been "bragging" about being the only real Republican and then he is stiffing the GOP convention. According to Newton, politics is about process and the convention
is part of that process.

Yorke offered that perhaps Laffey was afraid of getting "his head handed to him." To this, Newton mentioned that someone had pointed out that at the straw poll in Newport a few weeks ago, Laffey didn't show up at, but he won. Thus, Newton didn't know if a fear of losing was keeping Laffey away.

Newton also believes that an endorsement of Chafee is not a "slam dunk." Though he did assert that the Laffey campaign hasn't been focusing on convincing the delegates of the state central committee to vote for him.

SIDE NOTE: By the way, I'm awaiting the Mea Culpas from those who stated that Sen. Chafee would be running as an Independent. (Just stirring the pot).

UPDATE II: Senator Chafee spoke with Yorke on the air during the 5 O'Clock hour and offered two basic themes. His primary point was that he was the only electable Republican vs. Whitehouse, especially since Mayor Laffey enjoys nearly 100% name recognition and still polls 30 points lower than Whitehouse. Secondarily, Chafee believes that Laffey is being disrespectful to the GOP by not showing up at the convention.

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If Steve Laffey wants any kind of future in politics he'd better find some humility, some class and a good psychiatrist who can treat his raging insecurities.
Laffey didn't show tonight because he could not control the event and he was not going to carry the evening.
All that mouthy bravado on Laffey's party is pure BS.
Just call him Chicken Little Laffey.
Definitely not a primetime player or an adult for that matter.
Steve the US Senator?
Laughable beyond words!

Posted by: Tim at June 29, 2006 10:57 PM

He didn't show, because he didn't want the endorsement of the party, even if through divine intervention, he somehow got it. If he only had to worry about the elected delegates, he'd have probably had a realistic shot, had he actually wanted it. It was an Endorsing Convention. It serves no other purpose.

"Sham" doesn't even begin to describe what happens behind the scenes, when you add in all the appointed at-large, honorary, state and local office delegates into the mix. For the most part, these things are about as spontaneous as a North Korean Politburo meeting.

When you're running as the outsider candidate, you don't kiss up to the insider elites to get their stamp of approval.

Posted by: Will at June 30, 2006 2:41 AM

The idea that Senator Chafee could call anyone disrespectful to the GOP is absurd. You need not go back to the last national election, when he publicly opposed President Bush, to see true disrespect. Just look at Chafee's senate votes in just the last couple of weeks!

To some extent, I think Tim is right. Laffey couldn't control the event, so instead he didn't show up. I wish he attended and reminded the delegates what is actually means to be a Republican. A boisterous speech from Laffey and the newspaper headlines wouldn't have declared Chafee the choice of the GOP, but rather Laffey shaking things up.

In my view, it was another wasted opportunity. Laffey needs to run like he's 20 points behind.

Posted by: rightri at June 30, 2006 8:22 AM

rightri, to be more precise, Laffey needs to run like he's 30 points behind because he is losing by 30 points, not 20 points.

If he runs like he 20 points behind and closes that gap, he'll only get to within 10 points of Whitehouse.

And Will, if Laffey believed that the convention was the equivalent of the North Korean politburo, why did he attend and address previous conventions attended by the same delegates? Seems hypocritcal to me.

Posted by: Anthony at June 30, 2006 10:53 AM

"if Laffey believed that the convention was the equivalent of the North Korean politburo, why did he attend and address previous conventions attended by the same delegates?"

Not sure, because I was unable to attend the last one. I suppose, it's free speaking time. Of course, then, he wasn't in a position to possibly seek their endorsement.

Posted by: Will at June 30, 2006 2:26 PM

Anthony, the discussion is about the primary between Laffey and Chafee, which polls show will be a close one. A more accurate measure (poll) of how close a Whitehouse/Laffey race would be will not come until the GOP primary is decided.

Posted by: rightri at June 30, 2006 3:04 PM

Oh, because I thought the goal of running was to win the general election.

But if we're talking primaries, then I think the Scott/Leather primary may be just as close as the Chafee/Laffey primary. But like Laffey, the polls show that neither Scott or Leather will win the general.

Posted by: Anthony at June 30, 2006 7:48 PM

I honestly think that you enjoy being obsolete. You need to recognize the implausability of a Senator Laffey.
He has transformed himself into an intemperate, petulant figure in the eyes of most Rhode Islanders. Moreover, his tirades against just about every Republican Senator out there, have left him with few friends in the GOP. What precisely is his strategy?

Posted by: Laugh Riot at June 30, 2006 9:22 PM

I enjoy actually standing up for the principles that made the Republican Party great, not just paying hollow lip-service to it.

Laffey's strategy is to win, to rebuild the RI Republican Party into a real, grassroots organization, and to make Chafee staffers unemployed...

Posted by: Will at June 30, 2006 10:49 PM

Laugh Riot:

A new name for an old friend?

Here's a challenge for you, Tim and Anthony.

Please define what your republican party stands for. What is a true republican?

J Mahn

Posted by: Joe Mahn at July 1, 2006 11:04 AM

Face it, Laffey jumped the shark this week.
I'm not counting out the possibility he'll beat Chafee in the primary, but he's burned every bridge behind him, and he'll need those to have a prayer of beating Whitehouse. And when the Laffey folks are feeling bummed in November that a longtime red Senate seat has turned blue, they can find the responsible parties by looking in the mirror.
It's become such a personal crusade to stab Chafee in the back. The smartest thing responsible Republicans can do to keep the state party from being destroyed is to wash their hands of Laffey entirely. If I were Carcieri, I'd be worrying about how this tired lounge act is hurting my campaign (even if, as I suspect, the Gov is backing Laffey behind the scenes).

Posted by: rhody at July 1, 2006 8:17 PM


You seem to be rambling and sound a bit confused.

Remember (don't worry I’ll never let you forget), it was Chafee and the NRSC who went negative first. The night Laffey announced Chafee said he would end Steve Laffey's political career, and the NRSC ran two nasty little ditties on the tube trying to portray the good mayor as a whacko. Oops! Looks like the only people burning bridges are Chafee and the NRSC. Ask anybody Laffey didn’t blink. (Chafee and the NRSC went negative first.)

Where was that sense of open arms to political new comers the Chafee family used to be known for? The answer is that these weak kneed insiders don't want a true, obligated to none, reformer to mess up their little party inside the beltway. (Chafee and the NRSC went negative first.)

The RI state republican party is… pathetic. You can’t destroy something that doesn’t exist. Talk about looking in the mirror. Your excuse for a convention was a joke. You’re in denial if you don’t agree. (Chafee and the NRSC went negative first.)

As far as stabbing Chafee in the back, there aren’t any knives left. They’re all in Kerry King’s back. The average guy on the street could care less about all this “the party” crap anyway. (Chafee and the NRSC went negative first.)

I can’t wait to “see” a Laffey/Chafee debate. I would wager that Chafee will try and work it so there is minimal exposure (no audience participation), predetermined and well screened questions, and no TV if possible (radio is his only chance to survive). Chafee’s record (if you can call it that) is like a trip to Wes’ Rib House. Pork everywhere. And ideologically he (Chafee) isn’t even remotely republican. He’s a walking definition of RINO. (Chafee and the NRSC went negative first.)

Well there you have it.

J Mahn

Posted by: Joe Mahn at July 1, 2006 10:24 PM


I've never met Don Carcieri but I'd be more than willing to bet big money that not only isn't Carcieri privately backing Laffey in any way but considers Laffey to be a selfish rogue whose only interest in life is himself and his ego. All this talk about Laffey and party is laughable. He could care less about anything other than himself and Carcieri (and lots of other people) knows it.

Posted by: Tim at July 2, 2006 12:20 PM

This is a state that has repeatedly elected Patrick (Moderate Intelligence /Substance Abuser) Kennedy.

Though Laffey doesn't have the Kennedy name, it doesn't matter. The senior vote will go for Whitehouse, simply because they've been reflexively voting “D” since FDR.

Laffey's point was valid - his choice of words was unfortunate, but not fatal.

Posted by: Tom W at July 2, 2006 7:25 PM


Sounds like a long list of unnecessary invectives to me. I hope Justin is paying attention.

At the end of the day there are only 100 seats in the US Senate and I would venture to guess that each and every seat is filled to overflowing with a man or woman with a huge ego, an interest for power, a thick skin, a bright mind, and hopefully a passion to govern fairly and responsibly.

On a local level the “party” is pathetic. Nationally the party did what it thought was best for itself. Do you think Rove, Mellman and Dole care one iota about RI? They don’t. They care about 51 Rs, period, even if that means supporting a liberal democrat who happens to have an R next to his name.

What they didn’t count on was a real campaign. Now that they have one I wouldn’t be surprised at anything they do to try and win.

Remember Chafee and the NRSC went negative first. That's why they will lose in September to the superior candidate, Steve Laffey.

J Mahn

Posted by: Joe Mahn at July 2, 2006 10:08 PM

If Laffey were serious about getting to the Senate, he would've run as an independent - all along, the only he could get elected was if it were a three-man race in November.
Sure, Chafee may have fired the first shot in the TV ad wars, but Laffey has had his guns trained on him practically from the day he walked into City Hall. Three years ago, I was telling my father, a lifelong Democrat who worked for six mayors from both parties and considered Chafee the best he'd worked for, that Laffey was coming after him.
My father voted for Reagan twice (and the Bushes, too), but he'd find Laffey's attempts to don the cloak of Reagan laughable. Laffey has scorched the Republican earth - he may indeed win the GOP primary, but at what price? And how many Republicans down the ticket cringe at having this charlatan at the top? R.I. Republicans don't have the numbers to win a race where the party isn't unified, and Laffey alienates more potential allies every time he opens his mouth.
Tim, the reason I suspect Carcieri's a closet Laffey guy is because of his social conservatism (though he lets Sue play the ideological enforcer). Chafee's a pro-choice guy and liberal on gay marriage, two big no-nos in Carcieri World, no matter Laffey's excesses.

Posted by: Rhody at July 3, 2006 12:18 AM


Charlatan? If anyone is a fraud its Chafee running as a republican. Besides unnecessary invective, blindness to reality should be another reason to ban a post.

The reason they don't have the numbers is because of lame thinking like yours. Laffey is someone you can't control so therefore he is a bad man. “Never mind his record or what he has done”, you say, “we don't like him because he tells it like it is. Not only that but he might become visible in DC as a reformer. That will make us look bad at our pool parties next summer. We have to stop him now. He has a brain and he knows how to use it. We don’t want anyone like that as our Senator. Linc is John’s son, he’s a maverick, and even though he can’t speak in public and doesn’t stand for anything we love him. He’s so … so… senatorial.”

Your father sounds like an independent man who used the cloak of the democrat party to get along in life but who voted with his brain according to sound principles of prudence and reason. You should join him.

J Mahn

Posted by: Joe Mahn at July 3, 2006 9:57 AM

My father was an independent thinker...I voted for Republicans he wouldn't have, and he voted for Republicans I wouldn't have. If the Republicans put up more good candidates, I'd vote for them (but I live in a town where the archconservatives who represent us are Democrats because they're front-runners - let's just say I'm going against my homeboy for secretary of state).
Just a thought, J: Is Sue Stenhouse not a real Republican because she backs Chafee?
P.S.: There's a difference between unsenatorial and destructive. "Unsenatorial" is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as rational thinking and action are also present.

Posted by: Rhody at July 3, 2006 11:25 AM

Hmm, I never recalled Ronald Reagan encouraging people to become Democrats because they differed with him on one or two issues. Of course, then again I never recalled Ronald Reagan urging voters to unseat a Republican incumbent in a primary when the Republican challenger couldn't break 30% in the general election.

I do seem to recall something about never criticizing another Republican. Strange.

Posted by: Anthony at July 5, 2006 7:06 PM

Laffey has so much going for him...I mean soooooooo much. He's a strong guy. He's overcome so much. His bio reads like THE American success story. He's a natural as a model for all of us. BUT then he goes and screws it up by forgetting where he came from, all the fighting he had to do to succeed. He needs to identify more with those in the same situation he was as a kid. He needs to learn how to be empathic. AND definitely needs to work on his people skills....as a previous poster says, he needs to work on his insecurities. He was a natural to take my vote, and I am a Democrat...but his inability to reach out to people in need, his inability to be less offensively aggressive....he's just not ready for the Senate...If he works on understanding his possible constituencies a bit more, what they need, and want...Laffey could have it all...and I really mean that...the problem is that he doesn't know how to put forward an aggressive agenda that speaks to us all....he doesn't know yet that he doesn't know everything and that it is a good thing to listen to people with ideas different than his own...I hope he learns...I'd like to see him run again.

Posted by: jared at July 6, 2006 12:30 PM


Concerning the particular point about Reagan's 11th Commandment:

There are two myths about Mr. Reagan that persist to this day. One of them was that he never broke his 11th Commandment — "Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican."

He did not just break that rule in his campaign against President Ford in the 1976 Republican primaries, he shredded it. When Mr. Reagan had begun winning primaries, Mr. Ford began harshly attacking Mr. Reagan in TV ads as a warmonger.

We were flying into Los Angeles in June 1976 after a weekend campaign swing, and I was seated next to Mr. Reagan for the last half hour of the flight. Until that time he had refused to strike back at Mr. Ford, but as I began to read the text of the attack ads to him, his Irish temper exploded. He called Ford "a crybaby," accused him of using "divisive" and "arm-twisting tactics," and warned that the president was "playing with fire" that threatened to destroy the party.

"And those phony war ads," he went on to say. "This angered me. Because again, it seemed to be... pushing beyond a point in which you'd have to say.... Well, sometimes I think he'd rather win a convention than win an election."

If your curious about the other myth, go to the source.

Posted by: Marc Comtois at July 6, 2006 8:56 PM