November 14, 2006

Rebuilding the RI GOP Part Ia: Tear it down?

Marc Comtois

A few days ago, I posted Rebuilding the RI GOP Part I: Forming a Political Philosophy. I'm still working on a follow up post, but Dan Yorke--inspired by an Ed Achorn column that Yorke characterizes as having been written about a million times already--has a rather provocative proposal of his own: dismantle it. I believe Yorke's premise is that there simply is neither an effective leader who will/can step forward to rebuild the existing GOP nor will the current hierarchy go away. Yorke avers that too many in the RIGOP leadership are hopelessly pathetic, "Me too" and in bed with Democrats, that there is no hope to really change it. So Yorke thinks that a 40 year walk in the desert is called for (actually, about 5 years). However, Yorke's premise relies heavily on the Governor calling for the death penalty for the RIGOP. That won't happen. It certainly sounds extreme and is highly, highly, highly unlikely. But I suppose it's an option.

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Problem with Yorke is he never has these long involved discussions about the party in power around here. Yorke's afraid he'll lose access so he sucks up to the Lynch boys; goes big and bad on Ralphie Mollis as he says nothing about House Speaker Billy Murphy. Dan is big on going after the second string but rarely takes on the starters in the Democratic party. More bluster than muscle is Yorke. Just follow the pattern of who he confronts and who he doesn't in this state. Same for Ed Achorn. Eddie the Fraud whines about this place and the corruption of the General Assembly as he waves the pom poms for Speaker Bill Murphy and his "bravery". Eddie's all about good government just like Dan Yorke. lol

Posted by: Tim at November 14, 2006 6:30 PM

Actually, Yorke is right to some extent. The RIGOP needs new leadership. There is no real effective fundraising or viable candidate recruitment efforts. The party needs to develop an effective policy platform instead of just "not Democrat". Whether the current leadership is working/trying hard, it is clear (by results) that it's time for new ideas and not bring back those who failed in the past. (Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic anyone)

As for those who blame the "extremists" in the party for the party's losses, I say that we are some of the most dedicated and hardworking Republicans in the state. In talking to fellow "extremists" it appears that most of us actually did vote for Chafee realizing that a Republican US Senate was important. Instead of blaming others, those who lost should take a good look in the mirror for some of the causes for their defeats.

The RIGOP needs to be a good government & reform party. It's leaders need to stand apart and be a thorn in the side of the Democrats and not "get along".

Posted by: tcc3 at November 14, 2006 7:09 PM

I agree with TCC3! The Leadership needs to have a plan. Maybe like the 1994 republican house did. Contract for Rhode Island. The problem is that most of the leaders of the RIGOP are no different than the Democrat leaders.(Lawyers) they are at the same dinner parties, and so on. The RIGOP needs a new vision. Maybe we should have a Real Conservative as the Leader of the party that has new Ideas and A REAL VISION.

Posted by: Fred on the Blog at November 14, 2006 7:33 PM

I’m glad that Fred on the Blog mentioned the 1994 “Republican Revolution” which has also recently been compared to this year’s Democratic overthrow of Congress by our friend RIPOP.

If the first mission of the new leadership is to identify the ideological foundation from which we begin our adventure, then the second step is most certainly to map out the way in which we will complete the mission. I have been saying to the City and Town Committees, as I traversed the state, that we need to have a new game plan and have identified the 1994 model as the one to follow.

Gingrich came into Congress as a freshman in 1988 and already had a belief that the way to win was to create a collective anger in the American electorate that would allow Republican candidates to run on a common platform (the “Contract with America”) rather than run 435 individual races. In a post election survey, pollsters found that 77% of folks who voted for their Republican candidate could not identify the differing points laid out in the contract but they knew that it was a remedy for the “gridlock” that was rampant in Washington.

We just had that collective anger strategy thrown back at us in the US (amazing to think that somehow Town Council candidates were linked to President Bush and the war in Iraq) so it is proven that the strategy is effective. Nowhere in the nation is there more potential to create the collective anger response than here in “Little Rhody” where we have a very limited power elite who act at the behest of special interests. We need to campaign together on a universal platform and, instead of settling for the scraps from the table, boost one another up to the table so that we can have an equal share.

Posted by: Jon Scott at November 14, 2006 8:33 PM

Who are we calling RIGOP "leaders"?

Yorke is correctly disgusted by the behavior of John Holmes. But the critical, roll-up-your-sleeves work that's been done in the party for the last four years was not done by Holmes or Jackvony or anyone in bed with the Dems. The fact that Yorke did not know this indicates that he has rather shallow knowledge of what's been going on in the party. In fact, TCC3 is correct; much of that work was done by "extremists" who, say what you want about them, could not be accused of fraternizing with the enemy.

To shut down the existing organization, however small, and throw out the people who have been doing the work would be pointless. Actually, I cannot help but wonder if Yorke suggested this as a way of further sucking up to the Lynch boys (thank you, Tim) by ensuring that there is no loyal opposition for the next five years.

Do we need fresh ideas? More people involved? Money (to get crass for a minute)? Yes, yes, yes. But we also need to keep the people who have been working hard all along. Speaking as a moderate Republican, I would be pleased to work side by side with "extremists" and anyone else fed up with one party rule to continue making the RIGOP "a good government & reform party" that stands apart.

No deserts, thanks. Let's send some Dems there.

Posted by: SusanD at November 14, 2006 9:19 PM

Flacking for (public sector)unions
Bad roads / high gas taxes
Bad schools / high property taxes
Welfare magnet
A national reputation for corruption
Sub-average performing economy (as usual)

Bevilaqua - DeAngelis - Matty Smith - Fay - Bianchini - Celona - Irons - Harwood, etc. etc. etc.

All this for which the Democrats are 99% to blame (giving 1% to DiPrete) ... and the RIGOP loses seats!

That shows how pathetic is the RIGOP and its current "leadership!"

Posted by: Tom W at November 14, 2006 11:36 PM

Yorke and Achorn suck up to Murphy because he's a social conservative (and does legal work for the Diocese). They're sucking up to the Catholic Church by extension.
Those two are positioning themselves for the day Carcieri (prodded by the Mrs.) takes on abortion and gay marriage. Without re-election to worry about, The Don may be willing to touch those two third rails, and the casino debate will look like a Tupperware party.

Posted by: rhody at November 14, 2006 11:38 PM

And who is gunna lead this RIGOP into the next generation? Chafee?!

Posted by: cranstonbob at November 15, 2006 2:03 AM


Saying the RIGOP needs new leadership is like saying water is wet. It's not news to anyone and Yorke was saying something entiely different. He's all about kicking the weak.


Paulie Monkeyman Moura beating Lloyd Monroe and Paul Grumpy old man Shanley beating Jim Haldeman suggests the real problem lies with the average moron voter in Rhode Island. But fear not. Look at the economic trends, look at the taxation already suffocating RI'ers, look at the unfunded liabilities. The moronic voter chickens are coming home to roost. The state is running annual deficits during a strong economic period.
That is a red flag of epic porportions.
The mission for the governor (he's the only one who can do it) is to fundraise for the state party, hire a full time staff for the party and do nothing but associate spending and taxes with democrats in every speech in every city and town in this state for the next four years. A big time fiscal crisis is coming to this state in the next few years and when it does the RI Rep party needs to be ready. They need to have candidates all lined up and ready to go with the same message, spending and taxes are at the feet of the Democrat party.


Gay marriage and abortion are non-issues for everyone but you apparently.
Very confident in saying the governor has zero interest in pursuing either issue on any level. But I am amused rhody how you're morphing into Bobby Oliveira with your frequent references to the first lady. You going to stalk her like Bobby does? lol

Posted by: Tim at November 15, 2006 7:31 AM

The unresolved issue in my mind is the one that many others on this blog have raised. Before deciding on how to fix "the problem", you first have to reach a conclusion on what that problem is.

To oversimplify (but not by much), did a majority of local voters not support GOP General Assembly candidates because (1) the message strategy was weak; (2) the message didn't reach them effectively (the "Rhode Apathy" argument); and/or (3) they heard it but rejected it (because so many voters have an economic stake in the survival of RI's current inefficient, ineffective and corrupt political system)?

That is the question we really need to debate, as the conclusion is central to deciding on the best path forward and the likelihood it will meet with success in 2008.

Personally, I lean towards 1 and 2. That argues for trying to convince Gov. Carcieri to propose (in both his State of the State and budget) a radically different vision for RI, centered on education reform, social welfare reform, pension reform and tax reform (and, as a bonus suggestion, a fundamental reform of the strong speaker system in the House of Representatives that materially contributes to the culture of special interest corruption on Smith Hill). Propose a radically different vision for the future (at a time when the state faces very large deficits for years to come if nothing is done), and a clear policy and budget path for attaining it. Dare Murphy and Montalbano to completely gut it. Veto the result, again with a strong veto message. Dare them to override it. Deliver another strong speech when they do. Backed up by GOP funded direct mail, OpEds, etc.

Do it again in 2008 as the fiscal problems worsen, RI's relative educational performance continues to decline, the indictments keep coming down and federal juries continue to convict. Recruit strong candidates and run on a unified Contract for Rhode Island message that flows from the Governor's message over the previous two years. Finally, leverage off the national campaign McCain or Giuliani if one of these centrists (both of whom poll stronly in RI) is at the top of the GOP national ticket.

That's a plan that can be implemented that flows from my conclusions about why the GOP was hammered last week. I'm sure there are others. But that is the debate we need to have, rather than the Chafee, Laffey and other tribes in the RIGOP doing their best imitation of Bosnian Serbs, Muslims and Croats.

Posted by: John at November 15, 2006 9:25 AM

Not only was the so-called "message" weak, but so was the "leadership" (my sincere apologies to the word "weak").

I'm a member of the Republican state central committee, and I don't even know what our alleged message was supposed to have been this election cycle (other than "Keep Chafee," because he's one of John's sons, and you liked John, right?). I think it's something like "it's just like voting for a Democrat, but you won't get a job from us."

The leadership is literally non-existant. "Leaders" are supposed to have a clear-cut plan, hopefully, that they've developed in consultation with others. Then, using their charm or wit or whatever, convice you by logic and/or reason that theirs is the right plan, and then work hard to get people to follow them (ala Ronald Reagan). There's nothing even remotely close to that right now.

Anytime you try to stand up for Republican principles, you're basically deemed a heretic for daring to question the status quo, called "not a team player," and then it's off to oblivion. That needs to change, and quickly. We need "change" quickly. About the so-called extremists -- have they ever been in charge here and screwed things up so badly, that we wouldn't want to go back? Best I can tell, we've never really tried to have a Republican message, just a muddled Democrat-lite one.

I don't think we need to kill the undead, because that part's already been done for us. We need to start rebuilding the party from the bottom, up, not, as it currently is structured, from the top, down. If that requires sending some people, nice as they might be, off to an early retirement, or ruffling a few feathers, so be it. When the bird's the phoenix, and it's already on fire, you shouldn't be worrying about it's feathers.

Posted by: Will at November 15, 2006 10:08 AM

If Carcieri wanted to take on Murphy and Montalbano publicly, that's a message that would resonate with many Rhode Islanders (even some liberals, too). We're all tired of those two clowns (save the people in West Warwick, North Providence and Pawtucket who keep returning them to office). But I'm not getting my hopes up that Carcieri has grown a pair since the election.

Posted by: Rhody at November 15, 2006 11:22 AM


Agree completely with your analysis.


The great shame is the two people who could really rebuild your party from the ground up by working together don't even talk. Sadly it's very hard to lead a group when it's splintered and self serving. Laffey is no less a cancer for party unity than John Holmes is. That's the problem.


When you get a clue about the governor and his relationship with Murphy and Montalbano get back to us. It's obvious you're lost on the subject.

Posted by: Tim at November 15, 2006 1:37 PM


If I may ask, just who are the two people who don't talk? Pretty sure that Carcieri and Laffey talk (at least their surrogates do -- there is some overlap). If one of the people is supposed to be Chafee, I don't think his presence is needed any longer. if he can't figure out what he believes or what party he's going to belong to, now that it doesn't matter, then it really doesn't matter to me either. Party unity is not my goal ... a party message is. In that respect, not only is Laffey not a "cancer," but his input is vital to getting the right message out to the public. Getting rid of the "old guard" was his goal and it's mine, too. Holmes should just check into an old age home for the babbling and senile, and do us all a favor.

Posted by: Will at November 15, 2006 2:57 PM


I was me not rhody who made the 'they don't talk' comment. You know what's scary Will? I'm not a member of your party and yet I have a better handle on the dynamics of your party than you do. Psssst, there is a major rift between Carcieri and Laffey. A MAJOR rift. As far as Laffey's ability to sell the message is that to the party or to the public? Because I for one am not convinced Laffey has the ability to sell anything statewide unless he smoothes out his personality and learns how to get along with others in the sandbox.

Posted by: Tim at November 15, 2006 7:24 PM

I think we need a little less talk and a lot more action.

Andrew and Marc,

You need to start a section for Ideas for a Contract for Rhode Island.

Tim W

Got to love McDonalds


Listening to you is like listening to RR.

I believe that if the Grass Roots operation in Rhode Island can get a real leader in the RIGOP. THINGS WILL CHANGE!

If the Governor does not realize by now that HIS party chairwoman is not the SALESMAN that the RIGOP and Republican party needs he is not as smart a Buisnessman it thought he was.
What we need as a Party is a person that can take on Bill Lynch on Yorke's show and not seem inept while doing it.

Politics is only one thing. Selling yourself and then Your Ideas. The people on this blog that know me personnely understand where I come from.

For anyone looking to run for office you can either take what I say with a grain of salt or for what it is worth.

Read the following Sales Book Or for the people that do not have time get the CD. And just use what it says towards politics.
We uses sales techniques every relationship in our daily lives.

Book Author
Tom Hopkins
Mastering the Art of Selling.

Posted by: Fred on the Blog at November 15, 2006 7:44 PM

It says something about Laffey's ego that there's a rift him and Carcieri. Given that they are both social conservatives, they would seem sympatico. But as much as I dislike Carcieri, the man has political skills, an ability to read the room that Laffey obviously doesn't.
I always assumed Carcieri kind of supported Laffey sub rosa (The Don endorsed Chafee because he was shamed into it after trying to go neutral - the book of political etiquette demands incumbents endorse fellow incumbents in primaries). Now I'm thinking Carcieri probably foresaw a bitter primary costing the GOP the Senate no matter who came out on top in September.

Posted by: Rhody at November 15, 2006 8:10 PM


Besides Patricia Morgan who else wanted the job at the time? Hindsight is a wondeful thing isn't it? Her being tabbed to run the party tells you just how bad this party has been. Be sure to catch Yorke's show tomorrow. For some odd reason Pat Morgan loves public humiliation and has agreed to be on Yorke's show. Pat's like Linc Chafee, they don't know when to shut up and go away. It's over Pat Morgan! Go away! Darrell West said it best about Morgan, she has no communication skills. So she's going on Yorke's show tomorrow to tell everyone they didn't really see what they saw last Tuesday.
What a sorry state of affairs!!

Posted by: Tim at November 15, 2006 8:25 PM


Have you been at the with the party for the last 2 elections for Chairperson?
There has always been a real Republican willing to take over, BUT the Governor thought that Patricia Morgan was the one and of course just like the democratic voters in Rhode Island. The RIGOP Delegates are like sheep. Let's talk about the finacials behind the RIGOP. Al Gelfuso OH! I forgot he donates money to Democrats. OH! I forgot again he went to Court to stop Fellow Republicans from telling the Truth! Oh WAKE UP AGAIN!

A Real Republican

Fred on The BLOG

Posted by: Fred on the Blog at November 15, 2006 8:33 PM


Laffey tried to blackmail a sweet state job like college prez from the governor in exchange for staying out of the Senate race. What a guy huh? lol Carcieri's had more than a few knives in his back from Laffey. Problem for Laffey is he ran and he lost. Couldn't even win the primary, he weakened the incumbent holding that seat and that seat was then lost to the Democrats. Now Laffey has all kinds of burned bridges he must repair if he's to have a future in Rhode Island politics. Yes Carcieri won reelection with only a 51 - 49% margin but when you look closely at the numbers he ran away with the independent/split ballot vote. Carcieri is a very popular governor despite the closeness of the election and Laffey desperately needs to be seen as someone who is publicly embraced by Carcieri. If Steve Laffey is to rehab his political career he has some major fence mending to do. Not sure the Chafee fence can ever be mended and that's a big problem for Laffey also given that Chafee is popular in this very small state. But I must say based on his channel 12 commentary on election night Laffey still doesn't get it which is fine with me because I dislike the man intensely.

Posted by: Tim at November 15, 2006 8:56 PM

Fred the Real Republican,

Who wanted the job as party chair? Names please!

Posted by: Tim at November 15, 2006 9:00 PM


Chafee is a RINO. Maybe I should spell that out for you. Republican in Name only. That is why he lost. Laffey lost not with the Republican voters but with the Independant and Democrats that changed parties. After Chafee's wife had to beg them to become unafiliated voters to vote for her husband. If Chafee's wife would have run atleast everyone knows where she stands (to the left) and she would have beat Whitehouse. The name you want is not hard to find if you were a real Republican.
You atleast have an opinion. But remember, only countries that were founded by Real Republicans have such freedoms.

Posted by: Fred on the Blog at November 15, 2006 9:18 PM

Chafee is a RINO, and the RIGOP (as currently constituted) is not only a Republican Party in name only, it is a political party in name only.

One almost wonders if the Holmes and Jackvony's are Democratic moles, inserted to make sure that the party never becomes a viable opposition party.

Carcieri appears to consider it a nuisance more than anything else. Indeed, most "name" Republicans - Carcieri, Chafee, Laffey - are essentially "free agents" running for office parallel to the RIGOP, rather than being part of it.

And who can blame Carcieri for keeping some distance? God only knows what could come out about the current RIGOP leaderships that could taint him by association.

The RIGOP needs a purge. It looks like it will have to come from below.

Hopefully, with the Chafee name now politically gelded, the opportunity is finally here.

Posted by: Tom W at November 15, 2006 9:45 PM

"Propose a radically different vision for the future (at a time when the state faces very large deficits for years to come if nothing is done), and a clear policy and budget path for attaining it. Dare Murphy and Montalbano to completely gut it. Veto the result, again with a strong veto message. Dare them to override it. Deliver another strong speech when they do. Backed up by GOP funded direct mail, OpEds, etc.

Do it again in 2008 as the fiscal problems worsen"

Yes, excellent. An aggressive strategy that educates the public about what the Dems have been doing. And the vetoes themselves are built in p.r., in addition to "GOP funded direct mail, OpEds", letters to the editor, etc. The only nit I would pick is, let's not call it a Contract with R.I. in such a Dem state.

"Carcieri appears to consider it a nuisance"

In fact, the Governor has repeatedly stated that it is the GOP that stands between the state and bankruptcy.

No, he did not do as much campaigning for Republican candidates this election cycle, presumably because of his own campaign. But he campaigned hard during the last election and that was much appreciated, especially in view of the vacuum of the prior eight years.

Posted by: SusanD at November 16, 2006 7:01 AM

One thing I will say about Yorke.

I am not blinded by it but I do appreciate his denouncing John Holmes as an openly Democrat agent.

But the "wander in the desert" idea is a complete non-starter. The passage of time is not the solution to a cockroach problem.

Posted by: SusanD at November 16, 2006 7:42 AM

"The passage of time is not the solution to a cockroach problem."


Posted by: John at November 16, 2006 1:13 PM

Fred on the Blog is smoking something. He thinks Chafee lost because he was a "RINO"!? If that were the reason, he would have lost in the primary election, not the general.

He lost because he was viewed by Rhode Islanders as being too close to national Republican Party policies. Stop living in denial and accept it. He didn't lose because he was liberal, he lost because people associated him with the conservative Bush administration.

As for Laffey, it's not a surprise that Carcieri doesn't like him. While their politics are the same, Carcieri is a straight-forward guy. Laffey, while proclaiming himself to be straight-forward, tries to use cloak and dagger (more often the dagger) to get what he wants.

You stand a better chance of finding out what Steve Laffey really thinks by talking with Rob Manning than with Laffey himself.

URI presidency? US Senator? State party chair?

At one point or another, Laffey has denied he wanted all of these positions, yet EVERYONE knows he wants or wanted them. It becomes a silly and tiring charade.

Laffey's ego got him fired at Morgan Keegan after a year at the helm and it led a quick crash of his political career. His best bet would be to go back to picking stocks and avoid any position where he needs to manage other people or where he needs the support of other people to succeed. He's just not good at leading others.

Posted by: Anthony at November 17, 2006 10:15 AM


When you get a job and not one working for some Democratic political liberal take my taxes welfare supporting panty waste coward association you can tell me Chafee lost due to Bush. The only way Chafee won in the primary is because his liberal Wife begged for the democrats to vote for him.
Anthony remember
if you are 20 and are not a liberal you have no heart.
if you are 40 and are not a conservative you have no BRAINS.
The reason i did not respond earlier I was protecting the rights you take for granted.

Posted by: Fred on the Blog at November 21, 2006 7:05 PM

on it the scars of scourge stripes whereto he had applied themselves to escape conscription or honest hard work. They could them, can divide the glittering curtain they form as they fly round and

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