Monday, April 24, 2006
Ocean State politics roundup
Yeah, I know I should stop picking on Matt Brown's doomed Senate campaign, but after reading his imbecilic drivel at the Huffington Post, I resolved to flog horse corpse until it becomes Seabiscuit jerky. As I've posted earlier, Brown is almost completely broke, having blown his wad early in an effort to gain TV exposure to place higher on a Brown University poll. Brown completely failed to gain any momentum after getting his name out early, and he's trailing Sheldon Whitehouse by double digits.
So how's Brown going to turn it around? By campaigning in the poorest city in the state - and one with the smallest percentage of people who are eligible to vote. That's just the thing to do when your campaign is trailing far behind in money and votes, Matt. When combined with a newfound refusal to talk to the press, and his disdain for the party whose nomination he's ostensibly seeking, you have to wonder: what has Matt Brown has been doing since his campaign self-destructed?
On the Republican side, RINO incumbent Senator Lincoln Chafee is not actually running as a Democrat, but he's certainly got actual Republicans in Rhode Island fooled. The Providence Journal (registration required) reports that Peggy Sharpe, a wealthy philanthropist from North Kingstown, has been stumping for Chafee by reminding voters currently registered as Democrats that they have until June 14 to register as "unaffiliated" (formerly "independent") so that they can vote for Chafee in the Republican primaries. Senator Chafee's wife Stephanie has apparently made the same appeal to Ocean State Democrats to register as unaffilated voters. The logic here is the Republican primaries are only open to voters who are registered Republicans or have registered with no party affiliation.
Unlike Brown's idea to campaign to poor people who are ineligible to vote, Chafee's move is very shrewd. While Chafee has infuriated nearly all the registered Republicans in the state by exhibiting a complete lack of solid political principles, he remains popular with Democrats who have noted that Chafee votes far more like one of them. Chafee would doubtlessly choose to run as a Democrat as a first choice, but one suspects he doesn't have the time or inclination to get involved with the state's party machinery from the ground floor up. This is why appealing to Democrats to help shift the primary nomination in his direction makes sense - even if it's disastrous for long term future of the GOP in Rhode Island.
Sadly, Chafee's bonafide Republican opponent (Cranston mayor Steve Laffey) appears only to be reaching out to actual Republicans. That's not a bad strategy, but it's enough to make actual Republicans want to gouge out their eyes with a spork. Laffey is counting on his Republican bonafides, and the fact that the registered Republican base is sorely tempted to risk losing the "Republican" seat held by Chafee to nominate Laffey. Since there are far more Democrats who can unaffiliate than there are registered Republicans, Chafee is obviously betting that numbers alone can help beat the party faithful in the primaries.
I know that asking Chafee to be a Republican is way too much to ask for, but even I didn't expect the good Senator to sink this low while trolling for the nomination. Essentially, as a Republican running against the Republican party. Sadly, the national party is throwing their weight and money behind Chafee, with the logic that it's easier to get a RINO incumbent elected in Rhode Island than it is to elect an actual conservative in such an overwhelmingly Democratic state. Normally, I would agree with these pragmatists, but frankly, Chafee leans further to the left than most of his Democratic colleagues, thereby defeating the purpose of having a "Republican" re-elected in the first place. If Rhode Island is going to elect another left leaning non-entity to the Senate, then it may as well be an actual Democrat.
Finally, some welcome news from the world of Rhode Island politics: Robert J. Healey Jr., the candidate for Lt. Governor, says that if elected, he would try to abolish the office Lt. Governor altogether. Healey asks that anybody thinking of donating to his campaign would be better off donating the money to charity. Quoth Healey:
"Since I am running for the Lieutenant Governor of Rhode Island, and since I intend to abolish the office, I have no political plums to put on the table. I won't be able to give someone's drunken, deadbeat brother-in-law a job or hire an idiot just because he or she is the son or daughter of some politically connected hack. This being so, I cannot see any reason for anyone other than myself to spend money in support of my campaign."
Wow. I'm tempted, especially considering my distaste for the current Lt. Governor of Rhode Island (and current gubernatorial candidate), Charles Fogarty. At any rate, Healey certainly figured out what most people do with the job besides riding around the state waiting for the governor to die.
You can read Healey's blog here.