12/14/09

RI GOP - RIP?

The RI Republican Party has sunk to a very low point. Its single contender to be the next governor, Rory Smith, has abruptly withdrawn his candidacy; the party can't even come to an agreement on its position plank; and now Lincoln Chafee castigates his former party as being the victim of the national party's drift to the hard right. "The wolves are at the door,' says Linc.

I've always thought that the RI GOP stood apart from the divisive social issues focus that characterizes the national party. RI Republican candidates and officeholders (such as they have been) haven't made waves locally by banging the drum on issues like abortion and more recently gay rights. The RI GOP has a tradition of moderation reflected by the likes John and Lincoln Chafee, Claudine Schneider, Lincoln Almond and Scott Avedesian. Governor Carcieri on the other hand has embraced the national party's signature issues (add immigration to abortion and gay rights with him).

Having the RI GOP in such disarray is not good for our state. As Lincoln Chafee suggested, it's place is being taken by the new moderate Party. In the near-term, a moribund RI GOP only makes the Demcratic hold on power here in RI that much more unbreakable, which is a disaster for us.

Where is Steven Laffey in all this? Socially conservative himself but not a wing-nut over it, he at least has the experience and the strong conviction to be a party standbearer. But having lost the Republican primary against Chafee, he's on the sidelines. It seems to me that the RI GOP and Mr. Laffey need to start talking again.

What's your take on this RI Republican mess.