January 9, 2010

Perhaps There Should Be a Pal Party

Justin Katz

I take it that Monique is responding to later segments of Dan Yorke's Thursday interview with Warwick's Republican mayor, Scott Avedisian (audio here). This is the very first exchange in the interview:

Dan Yorke: What is your position on the governor's race, what are you going to be doing with your friend, Linc Chafee, and talk to me about your support for him.

Scott Avedisian: Obviously, Linc Chafee and I have been friends for — I'm 44 — so probably thirty years, when I went to first work for his father. When I was in high school, I moved to Washington to work for John Chafee. Linc went on the City Council; I followed him onto the council. He went into the mayor's office; I followed him into the mayor's office, when he went on to the Senate. So, we have thirty years worth of political history together. He is a good friend of mine, and I think it would be difficult to walk away from someone you've been friends with for thirty years.

DY: Alright, got that. So, what does that mean? What role will you play? Let me ask you this: Do you endorse him for governor?

SA: He has not asked me to play any role. I would go to an event for him, and I would help him as best I could, but he hasn't asked me to do anything more than that.

DY: Are you actively supporting Linc Chafee to be the next governor of the state of Rhode Island?

SA: I would vote for him, and he hasn't asked me to do anything, so I'm not actively doing anything.

DY: When asked if you will support the nominee of the Republican Party for governor, your answer will be, then, "no," correct?

SA: I don't know who the nominee will be. One of the things that's interesting is that there may not be a reason to have a closed primary at all.

DY: Well, I didn't get to that part, yet. Whoever ends up becoming the Republican nominee for governor will not get the support of the top Republican municipal elected official in the state, because he is pledged to support Linc Chafee the independent, correct?

SA: That's correct.

Friendship's an important thing, but politics are supposed to be about governance, and political parties are supposed to stand for something, not just be collections of arbitrary teams. Those who advocate for open primaries (I'm ambivalent, so far) and would lash out against the suggestion that Avedisian should stop calling himself a Republican need to answer the question of what they believe the Republican Party should be. Should its message be that its label and organizational structure are available for anybody in the state, whatever their beliefs, whatever their affiliations, and whatever their willingness to support the party? That reduces the the Republican "R" to only a slightly narrower version of the unaffiliated "I."

It's one thing for an individual voter to choose a particular candidate while in the voting booth. It's one thing for registered Republicans to advocate against candidates within their party with whom they disagree. But as an elected official, Mayor Avedisian owes his job, at least in part, to his political affiliation; if that were not the case, then he'd have no reason to keep the "R" after his name on the ballot.

At this point, it is indisputable that Avedisian would more appropriately be seen as a member of the Chafee Party, and as long as he continues to call himself a Republican, his honesty is a matter of dispute.


Let me add, here, that the obviousness of this point may be obscured by The Rhode Island Way. To Rhode Islanders, personal associations supersede everything in all contexts. In other words, Avedisian's unqualified support for his friend in a political race, no matter what his own political party may do or may need him to do, is of the same category as the corrupt old-boy system that is dragging Rhode Island back to pre-modern forms of government.

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justin-the whole state is a f**kin' pal party!!

Posted by: joe bernstein at January 9, 2010 2:42 PM

How do you real feel Joe?? lol
Well said!!

Posted by: Tim at January 9, 2010 4:13 PM

"political parties are supposed to stand for something, not just be collections of arbitrary teams"


Posted by: Dan at January 9, 2010 4:26 PM

[Why not just apologize and promise to behave? Then you can stop wasting my time with the need to delete these comments, which would otherwise be unobjectionable? --- JK]

Posted by: George Elbow at January 9, 2010 4:38 PM

Funny, I was raised to believe that putting friendship ahead of political concerns (as opposed to matters of fairness in governing) was an honorable thing.
And if anybody thinks Avedesian needs to re-evaluate his political affiliation as a result, don't worry - it sounds like he's doing that on his own. The result; the GOP banishes another proven winner, and its podiatrist needs to remove another bullet.

Posted by: rhody at January 9, 2010 5:59 PM

That's a typical mixing up of circumstances, Rhody. One shouldn't sell out friends in the name of politics, but when one works in a political job, there are affiliations that have a claim to one's devotions.

Suppose my friend becomes a contractor and I work for a different construction company. Would you claim my boss to be out of bounds for objecting to my going around to every client considering his bids and recommend my friend instead?

Posted by: Justin Katz at January 9, 2010 6:15 PM

This is why Rhody and I will never understand each other.I don't want to go to war or after bad guys with friends.I just need to be with people who can do the job,and they don't need to be my friend either.
Every so often you meet a friend in such circumstances,but usually after the fect,particularly in war.You don't want to get to know people too well there.I let myeslf get close to one guy and he was killed on his last day in country-every Rolling Rock I've drank since has been in memory of Barry Murtaugh.
Anyhow-friends should be friends and colleagues don't need to be.

Posted by: joe bernstein at January 9, 2010 8:35 PM

"Whoever ends up becoming the Republican nominee for governor will not get the support of the top Republican municipal elected official in the state, because he is pledged to support Linc Chafee the independent, correct?

SA: That's correct."

Whoops. I did not hear that part. That's a step too far.

Posted by: Monique at January 9, 2010 8:47 PM

The sooner Avedisian is out of the GOP the better. It's just a matter of time. He's looking for an excuse. The party should have the guts to give it to him and close the primary. He could never win a primary against even a half-Republican with half a brain. He knows it.

Avedisian is further to the left than many of the Democrats in the state. He's a cancer to the state GOP and is helping to make the party a laughingstock. The fact that he's been allowed to perpetuate this charade for so long is a disgrace.

Posted by: Jackson at January 9, 2010 11:23 PM

Given the fact that the GOP has only 10 members of the General Assembly, is the message that any dissent from party dogma will not be tolerated one the party really wants to send?
The Republicans never wouid've lost Congress if the Democrats sent this kind of message. Kicking Avedesian out of the GOP would be like the Democrats banishing Jim Langevin or Bart Stupak.

Posted by: rhody at January 10, 2010 12:53 AM

And Avedisian is on the executive committee of the RIGOP, voting against the movement to close the primary. Does anybody else view this as traitorious? I mean, the guy isn't even voting for the Republican, yet, he has a say how the RIGOP functions??? I can think of no better reason to close the primary than this example. Forget about democrats coming into their primary to mess with things, the RIGOP has allowed those with the same ulterior motives into the herarchy of their party.
Face it, Avedisian is a very liberal, union-sucking Democrat. To suggest the RIGOP should be tolerant of his antics, would render the RIGOP completely meaningless. I will suggest it is the tolerance of candidates like Avedisian in the RIGOP, that has led to its' moribund status.
The truth of the matter is, if the RIGOP is supposed to be happy with candidates with Avedisian's philosophy, they should just close up shop and merge with the Democratic party. It's that simple.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at January 10, 2010 10:58 AM

>>"The truth of the matter is, if the RIGOP is supposed to be happy with candidates with Avedisian's philosophy, they should just close up shop and merge with the Democratic party. It's that simple."


Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at January 10, 2010 12:04 PM

Let me see if I understand this correctly. People want to kick Avedisian out of the GOP (which nobody has any authority to do), because he is supporting a friend of 30 years for Governor? Wow! And yet there are actually some people who wonder why, after having a Republican in the Governor's office for 15 plus year's, we have lost seats in the GA? The state GOP has done NOTHING to build this party, but let's kick the only Republican who can actually win a statewide election out of the party! Whom should Avedisian support? Joe Trillo? Oh yeah, he dropped out of the race. Rory Smith? Nope, he dropped out too. John Robitaille? Please. Steve Laffey? He doesn't support Avedisian so why should Avedisian support him? Plus, I don't want to burst any bubbles... but Laffey CAN'T WIN!!! For all you people who think Laffey can win, if Laffey enters the race Chafee wins. It's that simple. Laffey takes votes from Caprio not Chafee. In response to people who will claim we need "to lose the battle to win the war", we have lost almost every battle so far! We have less than 10 seats in the GA! Let's win a battle for a change. Having the Governor's seat means absolutely nothing if you don't have enough people in the GA.

This party should spend more energy on recruiting people into the party and spend less energy trying to find ways to kick people out.

Posted by: Amazed at January 10, 2010 5:57 PM

Amazed, let me see if I get your perverse logic: the only way a Republican can win in RI is for a left-winger to pretend to be a Republican by claiming the title and supporting or advocating no Republican policies at all? That way, in your mind, at least the GOP can win seats. Well, gee, with Republicans like that, why bother at all? In trying to make your point, you've in fact made ours. Why bother voting for Republicans in RI at a statewide level if they, like Avedisian, are to the left of most RI Dems? What good does it serve to have "Republicans" in the GA or anywhere else that don't advocate at least some Republican policies?

If you think Avedisian is a Republican like Carcieri, think again. He has worked against Carcieri behind the scenes for nearly 8 years. He plugs his nose when he participates in GOP events, only because it serves his narrow political interest.

By the way, nobody's advocating he be kicked out: only that he embrace a modicum of Republican principles -- in which case maybe he could have a chance to win in a closed GOP primary. Of course, he'll leave, as he does not support Republican principles. There is no bother to kick him out.

Posted by: Jackson at January 10, 2010 8:38 PM

Jackson, I don't believe that Republicans need to be a "left-winger" to be elected. However, I also don't believe you need to be so far to the right that your falling off the globe to be a Republican either. People don't need to see eye to eye on every single issue to belong to the same political party. We need people with different ideas in the state GOP. That's all I'm saying. Who the heck are these few people to define what they believe a "good Republican" should be? It seems that if you disagree with RIRA members on any issue then you are a "RINO".

As far as Avedisian "working against Carcieri behind the scenes", if you're speaking of internal party business, what has there been to work against? In 8 years as Governor, Carcieri has done squat to build the party. I hope that we can at least agree on that point. We can't even get any "left-wingers" to run for the GA. Nobody wants to be affiliated with the GOP. We have a serious problem! Maybe if the party was a little more inclusive we might be able to get some good people to run for office. Who knows, maybe a "real republican" might run?

Posted by: Amazed at January 11, 2010 5:36 PM
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