November 3, 2010

Some Mustard for Ian's Baloney

Justin Katz

I wrote that title with the most collegial of intentions... but I do think WRNI's Ian Donnis is way off on this one:

Rhode Island's GOP has long been split between its moderate and conservative wings. The message sent yesterday by Rhode Island voters was that they favor a more moderate kind of Republicanism.

The 36% of the vote garnered by Linc Chafee — notably an RIGOP "moderate" whom the conservatives arguably ousted — is well below the 57% that went to the (conservative) Republican and (relatively conservative) Democrat, both of whom ran well to Linc's right. Meanwhile, John Loughlin, arguably the most conservative candidate on the ticket, came surprisingly close to beating Democrat David Cicilline, who ran some of the most disingenuous political ads I've seen, locally, and engaged in a "scare the seniors" campaign (and who benefited from an explicit national strategy among Democrats to shore up seats that would normally have been safe).

Elsewhere on the ticket, Ian cites the near success of Catherine Taylor in her bid for Secretary of State and notes her history with Chafee senior and junior. But that office is a throwaway on voters' lists, and Democrat Mollis is hardly an endearing character, meaning that the vote was a good candidate for those who wish to feel that they're not straight-ticket voters. In the race for Attorney General, (conservative) Republican Erik Wallin finished a reasonably strong second, well ahead of literal Moderate Christopher Little. And Kerry King, in the General Treasurer race, may or may not be on the "conservative" or "moderate" side of the Republican divide, but it seems to me that he's most often associated with (conservative) Don Carcieri.

That leaves Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian and Cranston Mayor Allan Fung — both incumbents, and neither justifiably evidence of what "Rhode Island voters want."


By the way, while I'm reading through Ian's WRNI blog, this statement from Linc Chafee has a telling subtext:

[Uniting people] is really critical to moving our state ahead — everybody working together — and that's what I talked about during the campaign. One of our impediments has been too much fighting.

As with President Obama, Chafee's version of "unity" and "working together" is likely to require everybody to unite in supporting his own prescription for the state. "Too much fighting" means too much opposition to the position that he and his political supporters — mostly leftists and unionists — wish to impose on the state.

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I also politely disagree with Ian's conclusion.

Ian treats "Moderate Republicans" as if they are separate from the State GOP, as if the State GOP is some conservative bastion. By and large, moderates have always run the State GOP.

While one might argue (as Ian did in his WRNI piece) that the seemly more moderate Republicans at the statewide level performed better than seemingly more conservative ones, I'm not sure why it matters, since they still lost. It seems like a case of having a predetermined conclusion and looking for the data to fit it.

On the other hand, in those instance where Republicans picked up seats in the General Assembly, with very few exceptions, solidly Conservative candidates won in those districts. I'm proud to say that virtually all of the House winners, and 3 of the 4 Senate candidates that RIRA backed won (and some are RIRA members).

Posted by: Will at November 3, 2010 9:28 PM

Ins and Outs:

Another huge lesson in these results is that RISC lost all its credibility and whatever juice it might have had.

At least the Tea Party got some new, reform-minded blood into the GA. The Tea Party-endorsed candidate for Governor at least came close.

In: Tea Party and RIRA

Posted by: George at November 3, 2010 9:48 PM


The GOP is still the necessary partisan vehicle for conservative reform. One of the right's problems is that it's so splintered. Lacking a central party structure will exacerbate that problem.

Of course, how it is structured is a mater of interesting debate.

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 3, 2010 9:59 PM

Donnis is trying to spread a meme of his own invention in order to undermine the conservative movement.

The facts are plain: Chafee has not a drop of Republican blood left. He ran far to the left of the Democrat and despite his dishonest attempt to portray himself as "independent", was obviously a puppet of the public-sector unions and the hard-left "Progressives".

Boy, it's easy to work at NPR. If you don't like the truth, you just make up your own story and spread it all over the country. Nice gig if you can get it (and if you can look at yourself in the mirror after spouting that Big Brother BS).

Posted by: BobN at November 3, 2010 11:01 PM

Worst Endorsement of 2010 in RI

-RISC's endorsement of Frank Caprio days before his disapointing third place finish

Posted by: Phil at November 4, 2010 7:53 AM

Best Non- Endorsement of a Candidate in 2010

- President Obama's non endorsement of Frank Caprio who finished third on election day.

Posted by: Phil at November 4, 2010 7:56 AM

Worst Campaign Commercial in RI for 2010 Elections

- Attorney General candidate Erik Wallin's ad that featured his wife endorsing her husband.

Posted by: Phil at November 4, 2010 8:00 AM

"Independent" (snickering loudly) Linc Chafee won a gubernatorial election with an embarrassing 36% of the vote by pandering to unions and latinos and libs like Ian are trying to spin it as a referendum on moderate vs conservative Republicans?? Poor Ian has never been known as a deep thinker. Yet more evidence.

From the Ian is a hypocrite file - ya think Ian opined that Don Carcieri's '06 bluest of blue states re-election in the face a national Democratic party tsumani was a referendum on conservative Republicans? Or was the Ian Donnis and his ilk talking points back then to marginalize Carcieri because of his margin of victory. Unlike Chafee, Carcieri got over 50% of the vote in his election yet the Ian's around here spun that as a negative because the margin wasn't wide enough. Chafee gets 36% of the vote (Cool Mooser Bob Healey got more votes statewide) with 3 far more conservative opponents capturing 64% and Ian and his ilk try to spin that as a "winning" referendum on moderates vs conservatives??
And you wonder how the phrase "liberalism is a mental disorder" came about?

Posted by: Tim at November 4, 2010 8:42 AM

The notion that Republicans should be more moderate is nonsense. In Rhode Island, you have distinctly different groups: Left-wing liberals, which includes the unions and poverty advocates - essentially all those who live off government, and then you have those conservatives, dependent on private industry for their incomes, who believe in living within their means - those who pay the bulk of the taxes far in excess of what they take out, who understand very well what happens when you ring up debts you cannot afford.
What the liberals like Donnis mean with this nonsensical notion that Republicans should be more moderate is really that they should simply be liberal, and they could win. And that is true, because Rhode Island has passed the point where there are more people living off the government than putting in. Placating those living off the government is absolutely good politics when running for office in Rhode Island. However, it is a recipe for disaster for Rhode Island, which will become more and more evident over the next few years.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at November 4, 2010 9:52 AM

Zesty headline, Justin. I'll agree to disagree with you and Will on this: the Republicans most successful in RI elections tend to be moderates.

Posted by: Ian Donnis at November 4, 2010 3:01 PM

"Republicans most successful in RI elections tend to be moderates"

No. Sadly, they tend to be liberals, with a focus, like Mr. Donnis advocates, on weaving a message that gets them elected. There is no distinction between the liberal Republican and the Democrat, so the Democrat usually wins. The party machines, today, produce candidates who are not focused on fixing the state's problems. If one party had a sincere focus on fixing the state, that message would resonate. But instead, we end up with the same luke-warm soup.

Posted by: George at November 4, 2010 5:51 PM

Ian-what's a moderate Republican?Lila Sapinsley,who supports abortion on demand and hates gun owners?Or the "former" Lincoln Chafee-cut from the same mold?
I'd sooner vote for a nonprogressive Democrat any day.
I like Tom Coburn.Especially since head the balls to call out Gingrich as a lowlife scumbag.

Posted by: joe bernstein at November 5, 2010 12:47 PM

Justin: "Of course, how it is structured is a mater of interesting debate."

It (the state Republican Party) needs leadership that is focused on fixing the state. If it has leadership that continues to spin the party's wheels while trying to be "inclusive", nothing will change. Hence it will have no reason for existance.

Posted by: George at November 5, 2010 1:05 PM