Wednesday, October 19, 2005
When Republicans attack ... Republicans.
Why is the GOP fighting this man? Meet Steve Laffey, the mayor of Cranston, and ostensible contestant for the US Senate seat held by resident Republican In Name Only Lincoln Chaffee. Despite rock solid Republican credentials, the National Republican Senatorial Committee is afraid that Laffey's primary challenge to Chaffee will result in a Democrat winning the seat in 2006. Of course, for those of us who know Lincoln Chaffee, there's very little discernable difference between him and any other New England Democratic senator, so Rhode Island's Republican voters are eager to see Laffey, a bonafide Republican, wind up on the ballot.
Chaffee, however, is getting big bucks and big help from the NRSC, who in turn have spent their money on attack ads portraying Laffey as some sort of lunatic, or worse, as a tax and spend Democrat. The National Review sorts it out online. The NSRC also forgets that Chaffee was nominated for his seat by then Governor Lincoln Almond after the death of Senator John Chaffee, Lincoln's father, and was not re-elected a year later as the result of some upsurge of Republican voters in Rhode Island. People in Rhode Island know what they're getting in Lincoln Chaffee - a Democrat. Republicans know what they see in Steve Laffey - a Republican.
Within Rhode Island, Laffey is lauded as the man who took on the public employees unions and won, and the man who brought Cranston back from the brink of financial ruin. While tax hikes were definitely involved in balancing the city's budget, Laffey's primary, and most politically dangerous focus, was tackling the public service unions that provided Yugo services at Lexus prices. Everyone in Rhode Island certainly remembers the Cranston crossing guard fiasco, after all, and we also remember his unlikely victory over foes with enormous political clout in Rhode Island.
As a registered Republican in Rhode Island (a breed rarer than the Block Island meadow vole), I intend to vote for Laffey in the primaries. There's no guarantee Chaffee will win re-election against any halfway credible Democratic challenger, and just as importantly, there's no way in hell that Lincoln Chaffee will actually behave like a Republican if re-elected. Bring it on, Mayor Laffey, and don't let the bastards get you down.