May 4, 2009

Will Ricci: Reaction to Endorsements of Linc Chafee for RI Governor

Engaged Citizen

You will rarely, if ever, find me in 100% agreement with a press statement on behalf of the Rhode Island Democratic Party regarding anything, so savor the moment.

That a freshman Democratic legislator has endorsed a possible candidate for political office who is not a member of his own party, for an election which won't occur until November 2010, means less than zero in the grand scheme of anything political. If anything, it actually shows that there is neither broad, nor deep support for someone who may or may not be a candidate for governor in 2010. Given Linc Chafee's past record, I absolutely assume that, at some point, he will make up his mind and be a real candidate for governor. I certainly don't think he will win, but that's beside the point. Rather, I am more concerned about a politician who has been at the game for quite a while and who should know better.

Of course, my concern is in regard to the very premature endorsement of Linc Chafee for RI governor made by "Republican" Mayor of Warwick Scott Avedesian. Scott is widely presumed to be interested in seeking a higher office in 2010, so perhaps this is a strategic decision on his part, or perhaps it is purely personal. Scott can perhaps be forgiven his transgression on the basis of their longtime friendship. Of course, they both share nearly identical left-of-center political ideologies that are not within the mainstream of what is generally considered "conservative" or even "Republican."

However, any political party — in this case, the Rhode Island Republican Party — is supposed to stand for something, is supposed to believe something, and this honestly deserves a timely response by it. I would certainly think that any potential Republican candidates for governor, including the one who also hails from Warwick, must feel a certain sense of betrayal. However, I honestly doubt that anyone is actually surprised by this act.

Regardless of the motivation behind Scott's endorsement, I would sincerely hope for a similarly worded statement by an official representative of the Rhode Island Republican Party. Given our past record as a state party — and its precarious state at present — I am not exactly holding my breath. There are any number of reasons to expect neither talk, nor action, including but not limited to the fact that the RIGOP headquarters in Warwick is in the very same building as Scott Avedesian's campaign headquarters and that the only remaining member of the RIGOP office staff formerly worked for Linc Chafee when he was in the U.S. Senate. These should not be obstacles to action, but rather inconveniences.

As a longtime member, I've come to expect little from the party, and my expectations are almost always exceeded in a bad way. I want the party to succeed — if I didn't, I wouldn't have been involved in it for so long — but it isn't going to succeed at anything if it doesn't stand up for even the most basic of Republican principles.

Despite that, I still hold out a tiny glimmer of hope the party will act. Paging Gio...

The RI Democrats' statement to the press read in part:

"I wasn't surprised to see that Rep. Fierro was sitting alone when he announced his decision to support former Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee. I would have advised Rep. Fierro to have considered Senator Chafee's record before so hastily and haphazardly announcing support for a candidate, who for so long embraced the ideals of the Republican Party, but who has suddenly labeled himself an 'independent' because he finds it politically expedient. If Chris had a little more gravitas and experience I believe he would have ultimately made a better and more well-informed decision. Much like his endorsed candidate, I wouldn't be surprised if Rep. Fierro changed his mind a few more times before the election. If Chris Fierro endorses a former Republican candidate in the middle of the woods and nobody cares, did it ever really happen?" [Democratic Party executive director Tim] Grilo said.

While I don't believe that I have heard or seen anywhere where Mayor Scott Avedesian has literally said the exact words "I endorse Linc Chafee for Governor," he has done everything humanly possible to demonstrate strong support of his candidacy, including but not limited to being a prominent member of the host committee for Linc's upcoming "exploratory committee" fundraiser. Whether the RIGOP manages even a mild correction remains to be seen.

Will Ricci is a Delegate of the Rhode Island Republican State Central Committee, a Director of the Rhode Island Republican Assembly, and the Editor of The Ocean State Republican blog.

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 think it is possible that the GOP nominee for Governor may place third next year in the gubernatorial race.
As a person who very likely will run for local office in my town, I am concerned about strenghth at the top of the ticket.
It is very conceivable the Democrats will have a divisive primary, and Chafee may be poised to win especially if the GOP candidate is weak.

Posted by: Scott Bill Hirst at May 4, 2009 3:37 PM

Or, the other option the GOP could go with, instead of strength at the top is total weakness. Don't put anyone up there, so maybe even the Democrats see it as not caring so much who wins, Chafee or the Democratic nominee, and then stay away from the polls. Then that puts the onus on all the local candidates to get their people out to vote for them. They're no longer banking on Republicans coming out to vote for the Republican candidate for Gov or trying to fight against all the Dems coming out to ensure that the Republican candidate doesn't win again.

Let's go for Democrat apathy!!

Posted by: Patrick at May 4, 2009 3:55 PM

I think there is an even chance that there will be no Republican candidate for governor in 2010, or even worse, a real token candidate. I certainly hope I'm wrong.

Of course, the only Republican publicly looking into running is Rep. Joe Trillo. However, if his 2Q fundraising isn't at least respectable, I don't think he'll end up doing it. I've known Joe for quite a while, and one thing he is not, is a dummy. I think he'll get in if he honestly thinks he has a decent shot at winning, in what is almost certain to be a three way race for governor.

I know there are a few others looking into the possibility of running, but when push comes to shove, it comes down to the ability to raise money -- and so far, I don't see a "Don Carcieri" coming out of the woodwork yet.

Posted by: Will at May 4, 2009 5:22 PM

As evidenced by the post above regarding municipal pension unfunded liabilities, and The Economist and New York Times and others, Rhode Island is in fiscal free fall.

As economist Herbert Stein observed, if something can't continue, it won't.

The fault for our state's condition lies with the Democrat General Assembly, but the public doesn't get the connection (apparently).

The Obama "stimulus" has somewhat delayed Rhode Island's day of reckoning (could have been this year, but for ...). This might be a blessing in disguise.

There's much to be said for standing back and letting the inevitable collapse occur when there's total Democrat control of statewide offices.

Posted by: Tom W at May 4, 2009 7:46 PM

Grilo sounds like a complete egotistical arse. That is precisely the kind of garbage that turns people off partisan politics.
Double bravo for Fierro - he stood up to the Menard machine, too.

Posted by: rhody at May 4, 2009 8:32 PM

Will Ricci

You promised that Stephen Laffey would be the next RI Governor. Why would anyone take you seriously?

Posted by: Phil at May 5, 2009 6:13 AM

Phil, many of us believed that the perfect combination of fiscal disaster and Laffey's no-nonsense approach to fixing things, combined with Chafee pulling votes away from the Democrat nominee would lead to a Laffey victory in 2010. November 2008 proved that Rhode Island voters are just too stupid, or as Laffey politely put it, "not ready for the kind of change" he could bring.

So yes! We were wrong! Who in their right mind would have though the majority of voters in this state would favor the status quo?

I agree with Tom W. the worse is yet to come, and when it comes, Democrats will likely "have it all".

Hopefully, by then, the state GOP will have a plan to fix the state, instead of their tired strategy of helping people like Chafee and Avedisian, who are part of the problem.

Posted by: George at May 5, 2009 10:51 AM

If Laffey were running, I think he would be the next Rhode Island governor. However, as George pointed out, there just isn't the kind of groundswell of support in this state for someone who is really willing to tackle the big problems. Things will neeed to get worse.

Barring any major changes in the selection of candidates, I'll tell you right now that I think Frank Caprio will be the next governor, notwithstanding the fact that he needs to get through the Democratic primary first. Despite his lack of a personality, he's been doing everything right in regard to seeking out voting constituencies. Heck, he was even working the tables at Mattapolooza!

Posted by: Will at May 5, 2009 11:57 AM

Keep in mind that the RI GOP MUST run a candidate for governor who wins 5% or more of the vote in 2010. If this doesn't happen, the RI GOP will lose its party status and have to resort to collecting signatures in January of 2012 to get its status back.

Posted by: Ken Block at May 5, 2009 2:32 PM


The RI GOP would keep its status due to the fact that McCain took more than 5% of the vote for president in RI in 2008.

If the GOP candidates for both governor and president both poll less than 5% in concurrent elections, then the RI GOP would lose its status.

Posted by: Ken Block at May 5, 2009 2:39 PM

Ken, I'm curious. Who among the assumed candidates for Governor does the RIMP consider moderate, or "most moderate"?

Posted by: George at May 5, 2009 3:37 PM


As you eventually rightly pointed out, the rules that apply to would be state parties are not necessarily the same as those of the two established major parties, since the major parties have national counterparts. The RIGOP doesn't have to run a gubernatorial candidate in 2010.

That being said, I think one or more candidates will likely file and run on the GOP side. The only real issue from the GOP's POV would simply be a question of how credible the candidacy is, whether they are able to mobilize enough people on the ground to get signatures and gather supporters, and how much money they have on hand already or are able to raise.

I know way too many people on the right who are already writing-off that particular race and focusing their limited energies elsewhere, in such places as the General Assembly, city councils, and school committees. I also know some people in the RIGOP who are already saying that they will support the Democratic nominee, if it's the "right" person. That's not a good sign. Frankly, from a purely strategic POV, they may not be wrong.

Perhaps it's time to just give the Democrats the whole enchilada to hasten the end more quickly?

Posted by: Will at May 5, 2009 6:03 PM

Will Ricci "means less than zero in the grand scheme of anything political" to use his quote against him.

It's the case of a wannabe saying nothing. Pretty difficult to mean less as Phil has pointed out.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at May 5, 2009 6:23 PM


I don't "wannabe" anything. I'm already busy enough. Coming from an anonymous coward who probably isn't even a Rhode Islander, I'll take that as a compliment!

Posted by: Will at May 5, 2009 7:14 PM

>>Coming from an anonymous coward who probably isn't even a Rhode Islander<<

Will, he's a Rhode Islander. Maybe he's originally from Philly, but he hails from South County now. :)

Posted by: Patrick at May 5, 2009 9:41 PM

I don't "wannabe" anything. I'm already busy enough

Busy being the fool. George wants to jump into the water with you. That makes two.

Posted by: Phil at May 5, 2009 10:33 PM


Thanks for the info. He's also 73 years old and reminds me of the rickety old neighbor who didn't like me running into his front yard when I was younger. He's a crab ... metaphorically speaking, of course.


Do you ever have anything productive to say? Jump into what water? It's not even a good metaphor. Knowing George quite well, more likely than not, he's probably got his house on the market, and is looking for a more business friendly state to relocate to.

Posted by: Will at May 6, 2009 12:27 AM

Scott Bill,

Are you related to that lady, Hirst, that killed that Warwick man with her car on route 1 in Charlestown a year or two ago? Just curious. If so, you may have trouble running for office. People have a long memory when it comes to that sort of thing, especially the family. Best of luck though!


James Spranzo

Posted by: James Spranzo at May 6, 2009 8:38 AM


You've been totally misstaken about Laffey. I questioned why the candidate who wanted to be a US Senator did not challenge Reed and you wrote me saying that I should be patient and that Laffey was going to be the next Governor. Wrong then and wrong now. How pathetic it is to imply some sort of inside knowledge and be so consistently wrong. I'll work on a better metaphor for you and others who wish for things to get worse in the state where I live and work.

Posted by: Phil at May 6, 2009 9:56 AM

You fool. I have always been one of the kids running in the yard. I love basketball, chess, ancient mythology, The Phillies and National League Baseball, read Homer, love Don Marquis - try reading his "Archy and Mehitabel" and you'll get some idea of my attitude towards life, love and laughter. I'm never far from a copy of Alice in Wonderland or Don Quixote.

What have you been reading lately?

As to anonymity, I usually sign off by leaving the URL for my blogs. Anyone who wants to know more about me is just a click away; too difficult a task for you? Maybe you're the one who's old and crotchety.

Apparently, you take the echos of your mind, project them upon other people and then curse them while looking in the mirror. You are still saying nothing, only louder.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at May 6, 2009 10:11 AM

Apparently OTL and Phil have successfully completed a Crowley course on how to be a nitwit.

Posted by: kathy at May 6, 2009 9:01 PM

Referencing Marc's post above, his link makes a good point about likability being a key criterion for potential GOP candidates. Face it, if Laffey were a more likeable person, he'd probably have beaten Chafee in the Senate primary. Methinks his whole Phineas T. Bluster persona did him in.
Carcieri seemed like a pretty likeable guy and built some serious political capital with his handling of the Station fire. Then he went into PTB mode and frittered it away.
If the GOP can find a competent, LIKEABLE candidate who softpedals the more-conservative-than-thou posturing and can appeal beyond the base, it can still be a factor in the gubernatorial race.

Posted by: rhody at May 6, 2009 11:47 PM
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