November 9, 2006

What Were We Just Saying About Lincoln Chafee and the RIGOP?

Donald B. Hawthorne

Following shortly on Andrew's recent post, What a Friend of the Editor of The New Republic Heard During a Rally in Rhode Island, comes Thanks for All That Cash, Liddy, But... over at The Corner, with a link to this Boston Globe article:

Two days after losing a bid for a second term in an election seen as a referendum on President Bush and the Republican Party, Sen. Lincoln Chafee said he was unsure whether he'd remain a Republican...

When asked if his comments meant he thought he might not belong in the Republican Party, he replied: "That's fair."

You don't think this might lead some people to say "I told you so," do you?

In the meantime, Patrick Casey writes about Chafee and the RIGOP inThe Post Election Canonization of Linc Chafee over at Sixers:

Glad to see that the Republican Party spent its money wisely in Rhode Island. The 53%-47% loss suffered by Senator Lincoln Chafee yesterday was well deserved by a party that had forsaken ideas and good government for a quest for raw power. There was not a single issue discussed seriously in this years Chafee-Whitehouse match-up other than who hated Bush and his policies more. In the end, Rhode Islanders preferred a real registered Democrat over one who just pretended to be one.

By putting forth a candidate like Steve Laffey, Republicans could have guaranteed a race in Rhode Island where issues like the economy could have been discussed. The fact that we currently have a great economy, and the way we got to it, was lost to Rhode Islanders this election cycle. The fact that our goal in Iraq and the Middle East is noble, and the fact that in wartime sometimes mistakes are made and things take longer than we would like, was lost in the battle between who was more anti-war and anti-Bush Chafee or Whitehouse. Talking about these things in the Senate race would have given us the opportunity for those ideas to have trickled down to other candidates and blunted the effect of the "I hate Bush No, I hate him more" mantra from both parties a little bit.

The pseudo-Republican/No Ideas Party that we have here in Rhode Island was destroyed last night, hopefully...

Rhode Islanders had no real choices this election cycle. It was, from the Senate down to the individual State Representative seats, a series of races between Democrats and Republicans whose party platform is to pretend to be nicer than the real Democrats. Disgraceful.

But not as disgraceful than this morning's love letter to Chafee by 'reporter' John E. Mulligan, A citizen-senator to the end, where the sycophantic author actually compared Chafee to the Founding Fathers approvingly.

At least in the national Republican Party you have a considerable base of officeholders and ideas that you can build on. In Rhode Island we have to start from scratch.

The RIGOP does have to be rebuilt from scratch as they are the single most inept political party I have ever seen in my lifetime.

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Let me be the first to christen this thread with "I told you Chafee sycophants so"

Posted by: Greg at November 9, 2006 10:22 PM

1. I still doubt Chafee would have switched parties if he had won.

2. Steve Laffey couldn't win his own voting precinct, much less win the state.

3. This is all water under the bridge and are hypothetical discussions. Both Chafee and Laffey are irrelevant for at least the next couple of years.

The focus should now turn to providing support to Governor Carcieri in what promises to be a tough couple of years ahead.

Posted by: Anthony at November 9, 2006 10:36 PM

I told you so, too.

The problem, Anthony, is that it shouldn't matter whether Chafee won or lost. If he believed in the values and principles of the Republican Party in the first place, then he should stick with it during the good times, as well as the not so good ones. I am a Republican, because I share the party's core values, even if the party powers that be occassionally do not. Unfortunately, all to often, they put retaining power, before adhering to principle.

As the outgoing senator's association with the GOP has a lot more to do with familial history, than it does any set of beliefs, core or otherwise, those kinds of bitter remarks that we heard out him earlier today, are not really all that surprising. Furthermore, it would not even be possible, if he was loyal to what the party purports to stand for in the first place. The party needs to be something more than a jobs program for the Chafee's.

Whether Steve Laffey won or lost his precinct during the primary, had a lot more to do with heavy union activity, as well as an influx of non-Republicans voting in our primary, than anything else. It's also not relevant to the current discussion about Chafee.

I can say with confidence, Laffey is not at all interested in being state party chair. As it was put to me, "he has about as much interest in being party chair, as being Lt. Governor." However, I believe he intends to be "relevant." I'll leave you in suspense regarding that. :)

Posted by: Will at November 10, 2006 12:24 AM

I could not agree more stongly with Don. Why hasn't Patricia Morgan resigned yet? Has she no shame? After 74 years of Democrat control of the RI General Assembly, there was no shortage of wedge issues she and the rest of the "leadership" of the RI GOP could have used to formulate a strong and effective message strategy -- call it a contract with Rhode Island taxpayers. Education reform. Welfare reform. Tax reform. Pension reform. Corruption. A set of issues Republican parties in other states can only dream about. The elements for success were all there. But did we see a coherent communication plan used across all RI GOP General Assembly candidates? Did we see coordintated polling, phone banks and GOTV? Did we see coordinated fundraising and media? Of course not. The RIGOP was too busy doing their best imitation of Sarajevo on a bad day. But still not a single resignation. That boggles the mind.

And the way forward? Sadly, that seems all too clear and predictable. Let's just continue the Laffey/Chafee tribal war for another four years, while Jackvony, Holmes and the other parasites grab what crumbs they can at the insiders' table.

And yet there is no shame, or self-doubt. This means they either want it this way (tribal warfare and table crumbs are far more satisfying than winning elections and enacting good policies), or they are too stupid to see the current situation for what it is.

Either way, Rhode Island Republicans today are beyond pathetic.

Posted by: John at November 10, 2006 12:29 AM

For too long RI Republicans have practiced the art of mimicking Democrats. Many believe, like Chafee, that the party needs to present itself as a slightly more moderate version of the Democrat party that controls RI. They couldn't be more wrong.

If the Dem is a decent candidate, what advantage would the voter see in voting GOP? Republicans put up far better candidates for Governor and Secretary of State. Carcieri barely held on and Stenhouse lost because they're opponents weren't so bad - Dems and Independents could vote for them.

The RI GOP will continue to be the party of second choice unless it offers something different.

Ask RIers and they will tell you that taxes are too high, corruption is rampant, and that our legislators ignore us until election time. RIers have always been ready for change if they are educated about and presented with a meaningful alternative.

The RI GOP needs to dump its entire leadership team. It needs to recruit young, energetic, non country-club conservatives willing to develop a Contract with America type proposal that can be used to educate RIers over the next two years. Further, candidates who espouse the principles must be found now, must join local parties, and help them grow.

For example, RI Republicans will...
...reduce the number of state employees by one fourth
...reduce the sales tax to 5 percent
...eliminate the office of lt. governor

The GOP had some great candidates for Assembly. Some of them should become part of leadership team.

The party of the Slocums and the Chafees is dead, its last king dethroned. The proof that Chafee is wrong is clear...the RI GOP has not grown in any way for decades.

Now is the time to develop a party with clear principles that offers a true alternative to the status quo. I am one conservative willing to be a part.

Posted by: rightri at November 10, 2006 7:55 AM

I'm not sure exactly what you're talking about when you say "I told you so."

Yes, you said Chafee would switch parties if he won, but he didn't win and didn't change parties. So what does the "I told you so" mean?

Other comments that people made were "There's no way the GOP is going to lose the Senate by one seat, so keeping Chafee doesn't matter" and "I hope that the Congress goes Democrat to send a message."

Well, we lost the Senate by one seat.

I would think that those people who made the final comment would be happy. They sent the message they were trying to send.

I do agree with rightri, though. Rhode Island Republicans need to develop a populist platform that will resonate with the public because with Chafee gone and Carcieri a lame duck, there isn't much of a Republican Party left.

Maybe an elected Republican member of the General Assembly will step up.

Posted by: Anthony at November 10, 2006 8:54 AM

Carcieri is already a lame-duck. I'm a Sheldon Whitehouse Democrat that supports Lincoln Chafee for Governor in 2010. He is a great asset to our state and will be a fine governor for 8 years. We need it after two terms of Don.

Posted by: Ted at November 10, 2006 12:41 PM

Ted is probably right - Linc will be the best candidate the Dems can put forward. But, there is still plenty of time for them to clone Deval Patrick as well.

Posted by: rhodeymark at November 11, 2006 8:43 AM
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