Rhode Island Archive:

Saturday, September 09, 2006

9/12 Primary Races Round-Up

Posted by James L.

So it's primary day this Tuesday, with elections being held in AZ, DC, DE, MD, MN, NH, NY, RI, VT, and WI. Here's a round-up of everything you should be keeping your eye on.

AZ-08 (Open, Kolbe): Boy, do I ever feel good about the Democratic chances in this district. Jim Kolbe, the district's Republican incumbent, is retiring. Kolbe, one of those elusive gay Republicans, cultivated a moderate reputation (whatever that means in the Republican Party these days), but received a slight scare in 2004 when conservative firebrand Randy Graf ran on a hard-right platform and scored 43% of the vote in the Republican primary of that year. That's a pretty impressive showing, given the traditional resource gap between a no-name challenger and an entrenched incumbent (admittedly, Graf's a state legislator, so he did start off with base of support). Now, Graf, an anti-immigration advocate, is leading the charge to clinch the Republican nomination for this open seat, and the most recent polling puts him ahead of primary opponent Steve Huffman (33-25, with 14% dispersed among three other minor candidates, and 29% undecided). However, Graf's in-your-face conservatism isn't exactly the best fit for a district that only tilts ever so slightly to the Republicans (Cook rates it as R+1.4), and the NRCC is in panic mode, spending $100k in a last-ditch effort to drag Huffman across the finish line. Clearly, we should be rooting for Graf in the primary if the NRCC is willing to spend coin to stop him. That said, even if Huffman is the winner, Hotline On Call notes that Huffman has plenty of weaknesses of his own:

But there are signs that Huffman is running a lackluster campaign. Despite a big fundraising advantage and Kolbe's endorsement, he remains down in polls. His treasurer was snooping around his challenger's ex-wife's home, prompting the Tucson Weekly to revoke their endorsement of him. And unlike ex-state Sen. Gabrielle Giffords (D) and Graf, he kept his seat in the legislature during the campaign - allowing the DCCC to hammer him for missing recent votes on border security.

Yikes. Things are looking pretty stressful for the Republicans if Huffman is the best they can come up with in this district. I can already see the negative ads in my head regarding his treasurer's bizarre antics.

The Democratic primary, on the other hand, is pitting two candidates who would either be strong or reasonably strong performers in the general election: ex-State Sen. Gabrielle Giffords and local TV anchor Patty Weiss. Giffords, though, leads Weiss 46-29 in the latest polling, and looks like the likely winner on Tuesday. Giffords is also the only Democrat in the current field who leads Huffman in a hypothetical general election match-up, by 42-39. Additionally, recent generic polling suggests that the district is leaning towards pulling the lever for the Democratic candidate this cycle, by a 50-46 margin. Between the nasty Republican primary pitting the NRCC against the local conservative base, a strong Democratic candidate, and an electorate that's beginning to tilt Democratic in the most recent polls, I'm expecting good things from AZ-08 in November.

MD-Sen (Open, Sarbanes): A whopper. A late August poll put Rep. Ben Cardin ahead of former NCAAP head Kweisi Mfume by a 43-30 margin in the Democratic primary to succeed retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes, although other polls have shown a tighter contest over the past several months. However, the demographics of Maryland's Democratic electorate would seem to hold more favorables for Mfume than Cardin, at least on the surface. Still, Cardin has outraised Mfume by a wide margin, and has been putting up a far greater amount of resources on air time in this stretch run than Mfume can afford to spend. I'd be surprised if Mfume pulled off this upset.

MD-04 (Incumbent, Wynn): 2006 has seen a series of surprising primary elections where incumbents have been knocked off their perch--Lieberman, Joe Schwarz in Michigan, and Cynthia McKinney in Georgia. Can Donna Edwards make it four by knocking off entrenched Democratic incumbent Al Wynn? Edwards has made a strong case against Wynn, who has supported the Bush administration on several crucial votes, including the Bankruptcy Bill and the Iraq War. Lemme just chime in and say this: no Democrat has any business voting for the ass-backwards Bankruptcy Bill, but this especially applies to any Democrat who represents a district that delivered 70% of its vote to John Kerry in 2004, like Wynn's. The Club For Growth, even if their choice in candidates is often extremely questionable, has the right philosophy: use primary races in districts with deep partisan favorability to their cause, and push ideological purity there. An Al Wynn-style voting record may be a lot easier to stomach for, say, a Democrat representing a white-majority district in the South, but Maryland's fourth can do a lot better than Al Wynn. Edwards has been picking up momentum in recent weeks, with the impressive achievement of securing the Washington Post's endorsement. If she can't do it this time, Edwards will be well-placed to make an earlier, more well-funded challenge to Wynn in 2008.

MN-05 (Open, Sabo): I gotta say, I know next to nothing about this hotly-contested open D seat race in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota. The field is huge, but the big spenders and movers have been Keith Ellison, Mike Erlandson, and Ember Reichgott Junge. I would invite our resident MN commentators to give us the lowdown in the comments.

NH-01 (Incumbent, Bradley): This race isn't quite as sexy as NH-02, but there's still a glimmer of hope here. Cook rates this district as a highly competitive R+0.1, and Bush only edged Kerry by 2% here in 2004. One of the Democratic challengers, NH House Minority Leader Jim Craig, is credible, and holds at least some name recognition in the district. But first he'll have to get through a primary with Carol Shea-Porter, who has her share of supporters as well.

NY-11 (Open, Owens): The most recent polling I've seen in this open seat shows a dead heat between the four would-be Democratic successors to retiring incumbent Major Owens in this central Brooklyn district (and my home away from home): NYC Councilmembers Yvette Clark, David Yassky, State Sen. Carl Andrews, and Owens' son, Chris Owens. Yassky's had the best fundraising, but also the most controversy, with the other candidates criticizing Yassky for running in an African-American majority district. Looks like this one will go down to the wire.

NY-19 (Incumbent, Kelly): The Democratic field to take on incumbent Republican congresswoman Sue Kelly has been annoyingly huge, but it's been whittled down to four: ex-Republican attorney Judy Aydelott, school principal Ben Schuldiner, political hack Darren Rigger, and Orleans guitarist John Hall. Aydelott had the very early mo' in this district, but Hall's fundraising has really picked up steam, and the endorsements (including one from the NY Democratic Party) followed suit. Cook rates this district R+1.5, but the locals are hoping for some serious coattails from the Spitzer-Clinton bulldozer at the top of the ticket this year, as well as changing demographics as a result of NYC residents moving into the district for more affordable housing.

RI-Sen (Incumbent, Chafee): The big one! Depending on whether you choose to believe Rhode Island College or the National Republican Senatorial Committee, this primary race is either firmly in conservative challenger Steve Laffey's hands, or will be held safely by incumbent Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee--both organizations put out wildly conflicting polls. The NRSC has made it clear that they're reading to cede the Rhode Island Senate seat to the Democrats if Laffey wins on Tuesday, so... well, you know who to root for.

RI-02 (Incumbent, Langevin): I don't have much to say about this one, but Jennifer Lawless has been running a primary challenge against Rep. Jim Langevin from the left. Langevin, in my estimation, is a pretty decent Rep, aside from his pro-life/anti-choice record. Lawless has gone so far as to say that Langevin Equals Lieberman, but given Langevin's opposition to the Iraq War, I don't think that passes the sniff test. So whatever.

WI-08 (Open, Green): No question about it: this is a Republican district. Bush scored nearly 55% of the vote against Kerry's 44% in 2004, yet Democrats are smelling an opportunity this year. Indeed, the most recent RT Strategies/Constituent Dynamics poll has the generic Democrat edging the generic Republican by 48-44 in this open seat race. The DCCC has gone up on the air to soften up likely Republican nominee John Gard's numbers, while the NRCC has done the same against physician Steve Kagen, the big spender in the Democratic primary race (he's put up over $1m of his own funds into this race, the last time I checked). Kagen's primary opponents, former Brown County Executive and De Pere mayor Nancy Nusbaum and business consultant Jamie Wall, have also raised impressive amounts for a crowded field, but Kagen's deep pockets has put the local Republicans on edge. If the NRCC is committing resources to defend this seat, the 2006 field is favorable indeed for Democrats.

Posted at 09:02 PM in 2006 Elections, Arizona, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

Thursday, August 31, 2006

RI-Sen: Laffey 51, Chafee 34

Posted by James L.

So says a new Rhode Island College poll (likely Republican primary voters; June in parens):

Lincoln Chafee (R-Inc.): 34 (36)
Steve Laffey (R-Club For Growth): 51 (39)
MoE: ±5.1%

Whoa. Now, I've been hearing a lot of whispers that Chafee has been running a surprisingly poor campaign, including a completely uninspired debate performance, but still, this poll comes as something of a shock. This isn't my favorite kind of poll for two reasons: 1) that MoE is just too darn high, and 2) it doesn't attempt to identify independent voters who will cast ballots in the Republican primary. There's no way for us to tell how many of these indies will turn out, and whom for.

Check out this money quote, though:

"Since early summer, Senator Chafee has been unable to expand his base of support from roughly one third of the likely Republican primary voters. The Lieberman phenomenon, where a partisan base closes ranks around the 'true partisan' candidate, seems to be at work in Rhode Island, as it was on the Democratic side in Connecticut. Laffey's efforts to link Chafee with the extremely unpopular President Bush also appear to be paying off," said Profughi.

Confounding. Laffey is somehow tying Chafee--the only Republican Senator who was consistently against the Iraq War from the very start--to Bush, and it's working. Not only that, it's working to sour the Republican base on Chafee. Damn, I guess Bush's 76% disapproval rating in Rhode Island cuts pretty deeply into the insignificant base of registered Republicans there, too.

As you may know, Swing State is collectively rooting for Club For Growth's Steve Laffey to crush Chafee in the primary. If you still don't know why, just refer back to these poll numbers to give yourself a better idea as to why a Laffey candidacy will be a windfall for Democratic nominee Sheldon Whitehouse (as well as the DSCC, who can afford to channel money elsewhere should Laffey win).

Posted at 03:27 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Rhode Island | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Tuesday Poll Round-Up: RI-Sen, RI-Gov, TX-Gov, TX-21

Posted by James L.

Lots of polls lately to share. First off, there's some good news from Rhode Island, where Democrats are gaining momentum:

RI-Sen (Brown Univesity Poll, registered voters, February in parens):

Sheldon Whitehouse (D): 38 (35)
Lincoln Chafee (R-Inc.): 37 (40)
Undecided/Decline to answer: 25 (26)
MoE: ±3.5%

Sheldon Whitehouse (D): 55 (44)
Steve Laffey (R): 25 (29)
Undecided: 20 (27)
MoE: ±3.5%

RI-Gov (Brown, Feb. in parens):

Charles Fogarty (D): 39 (35)
Don Carcieri (R-Inc.): 44 (46)
MoE: ±3.5%

The same poll shows President Bush with a dismal 20% approval rating, and a mediocre 51% for Senator Chafee. Whitehouse is really making a race of this one, and don't believe any spin you may hear that this is an unwinnable race if Laffey doesn't knock off Chafee in the Republican primary.

And some noise from Texas:

TX-Gov (SUSA, likely voters, May in parens):

Chris Bell (D): 20 (18)
Rick Perry (R-Inc.): 35 (41)
Kinky Friedman (I): 21 (16)
Carole Keeton Strayhorn (I): 19 (20)
MoE: ±4.2%

Perry is clearly weak, but this is just such a clusterfuck of a race. Troublingly, Chris Bell is only getting 44% of the Democratic vote and losing broad swaths of white liberals to Kinky Friedman's quirky indie bid. I understand the position of a Texas Democrat who's reluctant to rally around the Bell campaign after seeing hopeless defeat after defeat at the statewide level for a decade, but with the field this fractured, a consolidated Democratic base could be a threat to Perry.

TX-21: The John Courage campaign writes in to share some weak numbers on Congressman Lamar Smith (one of Tom DeLay's biggest allies in Texas):

In a poll conducted by Lake Research Partners of 500 likely general election voters June 18-21, 2006, only 31% said that they would vote to re-elect Lamar Smith. (MoE +-4.4%)

This is an anemic number for an incumbent, as that number should on average be closer to 45-55%. The voters want change, and we've got a man of the people that is a teacher and a veteran who wants to be their representative.

Smith has a weak 49% personal favorability rating in this lean Republican district, and there's clearly room for Courage to mount a vigorous campaign against him.

Posted at 12:02 PM in 2006 Elections - House, 2006 Elections - Senate, 2006 Elections - State, Rhode Island, Texas | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

Monday, June 05, 2006

RI-Sen: Chafee and Laffey in a Dead Heat?

Posted by James L.

The Providence Journal reported new polling numbers released by the far-right Club For Growth last week on Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey's primary challenge to vacillating Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee (May 21-24, likely voters, no trendlines):

Lincoln Chafee: 45.7
Stephen Laffey: 44.3
(MoE: ±5.66%)

At a sample size of 300 "very likely" Republican primary voters, and a Margin of Error of 5.66%, that's a pretty crappy poll to begin with, nevermind the fact that it was commissioned and released by the Laffey-boosting Club For Growth (a PAC with a habit of supporting some of the most unpleasantly extreme elements of the Republican Party). So take it for what it's worth.

Posted at 07:42 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Rhode Island | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

RI-Sen: Matt Brown Dropping Out?

Posted by DavidNYC

A blog called Rhode Island's Future is reporting that Matt Brown will drop out of the senate race today. Can anyone confirm this? Brown's having a press conference at 3:30pm, so I gather we'll know soon.

UPDATE: Brown has indeed dropped out. He did the right thing and immediately endorsed fellow Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. I think this was probably the right move for Brown - he was struggling for cash. And it's also probably a net-positive for the Democrats, as RI has a very late primary. Whitehouse does still have some token opposition, but now he can spend most of his time focusing on the general.

Posted at 03:08 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Rhode Island | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

Thursday, April 20, 2006

RI-Sen: Sierra Club Endorsing Chafee (R)

Posted by DavidNYC

I'm sure you've already seen this elsewhere on the Internets today: The Sierra Club is endorsing Lincoln Chafee, the Republican Senator from Rhode Island.

I have one very, very simple response to this: My goal in life is to elect and support Democrats. My corrollary goal, naturally, is to oppose Republicans and boot them from office. Barring the most extraordinary of circumstances, if your goal ever involves electing or supporting Republicans, I will never support you. I don't care what your rationale for bipartisanship is - it's one I will never share.

The Sierra Club can do what it likes. If they think supporting Chafee is the bees' knees, they can be my guest. They are, of course, incredibly and totally wrong. But I have no interest in debating them on their own terms. They're engaged in a different project than I am. If they care, I can tell them that I'll never give them money if they continue to support Republicans. But they probably don't - I think they've come to the cynical conclusion that they're apt to rake in more dollars if they appear bi- or non-partisan.

Anyhow, let me draw on a little bit of history which I think is instructive. When many American Jews felt that the most prominent pro-Israel organizations in this country were too right-leaning, what did they do? They went out and founded the New Israel Fund, a much more progressive group which today plays an important role in American-Israeli affairs. People committed to environmental activism and the election of Democrats would do well to heed this lesson. The Sierra Club may one day find itself with a serious rival if it insists on being this out-of-step with reality.

Posted at 11:09 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Rhode Island | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

RI-Sen: Chafee Pulls Spectacular Double Blunder

Posted by DavidNYC

So Lincoln Chafee and his erstwhile primary challenger, Steve Laffey, are having a pissing contest over who supports Israel more, better, louder, etc. It's nothing more than a crass attempt to pander to Jewish voters, as though Jews will reflexively support whomever is most hawkish. Hint: 75% of Jews voted for Kerry. This ploy's not gonna work. Moreover, there are only some 16,000 Jews in RI - barely 1.5% of the population. So why bother? Well, Laffey's shilling for right-wing PAC money, and Chafee is trying to deny it to him. But along the way, Linc went a-blundering.

Indeed, check out this exceptional double blunder on Chafee's part. Trying to bolster his pro-Israel credentials, Chaffe apparently made the following remark:

Linc Chafee says the Christian right, increasingly active in Republican politics, also has a strong, Biblically inspired interest in Israel.

Whoa there! It's almost hard to unpack the enormous gaffes here. Let me try:

• Blunder #1: My good buddies in the GOP - those right-wing Christian fundamentalists - are super-mega-pro-Israel. Judge me based on the company I keep!

Wow. For a guy whose entire political career rests on pretending he's some kind of moderate, this is an outrageously glaring admission to make. We always knew that Chafee was in thrall to the far right. Now he's gone and admitted it.

• Blunder #2: Hey, Jewish voters! I know you'll like my stance on Israel because I'm good friends with Christian fundamentalists. Remember them, those guys who want to use Jews as kindling for their rapturous end-times fantasies?

Seems obvious to me, but Linc seemed to forget that fundamentalist "support" for Israel is perhaps Exhibit #1 when it comes to explaining why the modern GOP can never - and will never - tap the Jewish vote.

So congrats, Linc. In just one sentence, you managed to put the lie to your claims of being a moderate, and you helped turn off Jewish voters to your campaign. Good work! The DNC oughta put you on payroll.

Posted at 10:18 AM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Rhode Island | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

Monday, December 12, 2005

RI-Sen: Club for Growth Endorses Laffey

Posted by DavidNYC

Our goal of taking back the Senate just got that much easier: The Club for Growth has endorsed conservative Cranston, RI Mayor Steve Laffey over incumbent Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee in the RI senate race. If you'll recall, the Club for Growth came just one percentage point away from derailing Arlen Specter in a primary last year - Specter won by just 51-49. And the man Specter faced, former Rep. Pat Toomey, is now the head of the CFG.

Oh, this should be good.

Posted at 12:22 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Rhode Island | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0) | Technorati

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

RI-Sen: Matt Brown Demands Timetable and Plan for Iraq

Posted by Bob Brigham

From Matt Brown, Democrat for US Senate in Rhode Island:

Today I am calling on President Bush to set a timetable to start bringing American troops home from Iraq in six months. I’m asking all of my supporters to sign my petition to President Bush and to send it to their friends and families to sign it. The brave men and women of our Armed Forces have risked everything and done their job with courage and distinction. The President owes it to the American people to get this job done and bring our men and women home to their families.

Full petition after the jump:

“Mr. President, the American people are looking for leadership and strength in this difficult time. Like all Rhode Islanders and all Americans, I’m proud of our troops. They are the finest citizen soldiers in the world. They have left their homes and families, risked everything and done their job with courage and distinction.

“Last week you said withdrawing our troops from Iraq would be “a terrible signal to the enemy” and you again refused to set a timetable for withdrawal. That’s wrong. Continuing in Iraq without a plan, without a timetable for withdrawal is a terrible signal to Americans and our troops. It’s a failure of leadership.

“Mr. President, the United States of America – the strongest country in the world – should not let our decision about when to bring our men and women home be dictated by a group of foreign insurgents. We have set timetables for the Iraqis to establish a new government, draft a constitution and conduct free elections – and now we need to set a timetable to bring our troops home.

“We should start the withdrawal in six months, soon after the Iraqi National Assembly Elections scheduled for December 15. By early next year, our troops will have made it possible for the Iraqis to establish their own government and constitution and to hold free elections. Our troops will have done their job and it will be time to bring them home.

“Let me be clear – withdrawing our troops will not mean abandoning Iraq. Our troops should continue training Iraqi security forces for the next six months and during the gradual withdrawal process. Following the withdrawal, United States military trainers and advisors should provide continued training and technical assistance to Iraqi security forces and the new Iraqi government, as we do in many nations around the world.

“Mr. President, in just the last week, different officials in your administration have suggested very different timelines for withdrawal. The President is the Commander-in-Chief. You need to set the timetable and plan. You owe it to the American people to get this job done and bring our men and women home."

I signed here.

Posted at 01:57 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, International, Rhode Island | Comments (2) | Technorati

Thursday, July 07, 2005

RI-Sen: Looks Like We Got a Race

Posted by Tim Tagaris

Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Sheldon Whitehouse, absolutely crushed incumbent Lincoln Chafee in second quarter fundraising, by almost a margin of 2 to 1. I hate that strength of a candidacy is measured by dollars raised, but that's just the way it is right now, and Whitehouse's $775,000 raised in three months vs. Chafee's $400,000 sends a strong message. The other Democratic candidate, Matt Brown, did not report his figures, forcing us to wait until the 15th to find out how successful he was. In the first quarter, Brown raised about $500,000.

This comes on the heels of recent polling that shows the race tightening.

Chafee: 41%
Whitehouse: 36%

Chafee: 44%
Brown: 29%

Personally, I tend to support Matt Brown (I have an affinity for the non-establishment Dems). But either way, this another great opportunity for another U.S. Senate pickup. Day by day, I grow more and more optimistic about our chances of taking a significant chunk out of the Republican majority.

Posted at 12:47 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Rhode Island | Technorati

Thursday, April 21, 2005

RI-Sen: Stephen P. Laffey Primary Challenge to Chafee

Posted by Bob Brigham

Providence Journal:

Is Cranston Mayor Stephen P. Laffey going to challenge U.S. Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee in a Republican primary?

Many Rhode Islanders have been asking that question for some time, but now national pundits are also starting to ponder such a race.

And Laffey hasn't taken any steps to quell such speculation.

In fact, his office has issued a statement in response to queries from reporters that has stoked the fires even more. It does not say much about his plans, but takes shots at Chafee, without mentioning him by name.

"I've been across the State of Rhode Island, and what I have found is that fair-minded Republicans, Democrats, and independents are not happy with the way things are running in Washington and neither am I," the statement reads. "Rhode Island needs strong, independent leadership in Washington, not weak, indecisive waffling."

The press is giddy, "inner circle" types are hyping his viability, GOP insiders are trying to keep him out, and there is even an online petition urging him to run.

This sounds like a race:

Norman G. Orodenker, a close family friend of Laffey's and one of his closest political advisers, said Laffey will make a decision by late spring.

"He's not weighing running for mayor of Cranston again. The question is only what he does," said Orodenker, a partner with the law firm Tillinghast Licht LLP. "He's got several possibilities."

Laffey's roommate at Bowdoin College and close confidant Thomas Marcelle said that once you become a statewide figure, like Laffey, "statewide races become open to you, whether it be for lieutenant governor, general treasurer or U.S. Senate."

The Club for Growth types don't seem to have a plan with the former leader coming at this from a different perspective than the current leader.

Current Leader:

David Keating, executive director of the Club for Growth, a conservative organization that has bankrolled races against moderate Republicans, said the Chafee race "is definitely on our radar."

Keating's group has not formally studied Laffey's record or backed any candidate, but he said Laffey seems in-line with his organization.

"From what we've heard . . . he's willing to take on wasteful, entrenched interests that really have no concern for the local taxpayer," Keating said.

Former Leader:

Steven Moore, president of the Free Enterprise Fund, a conservative lobbying group, said that "it's not hard to get to the right of Lincoln Chafee. He's easily the most liberal Republican in the Senate."

Moore, who is also a former president of the Club for Growth, said that it's "certainly a potential" that someone could beat Chafee in a primary, because Republican primary voters "tend to be more conservative than general voters."

But, he warned, "there's real danger that even if you can beat Chafee in a primary, that all you're going to be doing is turning it over to a more-liberal Democrat."

In a heavily Democratic state such as Rhode Island, Moore said, "Unfortunately for conservatives, Lincoln Chafee might be the best you can get."

It will be interesting to see the degree to which the GOP grassroots involves themselves in this race. With the internet, the wingers really don't need the Club for Growth. That is where the whole online petition thing comes in. To date, only 285 people have signed it:

Challenge Chafee

Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey is considering a run against liberal Sen. Lincoln Chafee in next year's GOP primary in Rhode Island. Sen. Chafee is widely considered the poster-boy for RINOs - Republicans in Name Only. Not only is he a liberal's liberal, but he regularly gives aid and comfort to the opposition...such as in 2004 when he announced he wasn't voting for President Bush.

The ONLY argument in favor of keeping Chafee in his father's old senate seat is that at least he votes for Republican leadership; that his vote is needed to keep Republicans in the majority. However, Chafee is on record as saying that if his one vote could switch control back to the Democrats, he just might do it.

Republicans really don't need another Jim Jeffords in their midst.

And the fact is, Republicans now enjoy a FIVE seat advantage in the senate. They can lose Chafee and still retain the majority.

In addition, if they DID lose Chafee's seat in Rhode Island, the odds are they'd pick it up by winning one or more vulnerable Democrat seats in another state in 2006.

The problem is, when people say there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between a Democrat and a Republican, it’s so-called Republicans such as Lincoln Chafee who blur the philosophical distinctions. A strong argument can be made that culling RINOs from the GOP herd will make it far easier for average voters to distinguish one party from the other.

Mayor Laffey is a successful businessman and economic conservative who has restored financial stability to the City of Cranston since taking over as mayor two years ago (http://www.cranstonri.com/generalpage.html?page=28). Many political insiders believe that not only could Mayor Laffey defeat Chafee in the Republican Party primary, but that he’d actually be the strongest GOP candidate in the general election, as well, since many Republicans simply will no longer vote for Chafee under any circumstance.

That being said, conservative columnist Robert Novak is reporting this week that “National Republican leaders are pressuring Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey to stay out of the Rhode Island Republican primary election against liberal Sen. Lincoln Chafee.”

Is it just me, or does it seem that whenever grassroots conservatives let “national Republican leaders” pick our candidates, we end up with dogs with fleas? Remember, it was those same “national Republican leaders” who defended the re-election of Sen. “Jumping” Jim Jeffords...just before he jumped over to the Democrat Party, thus handing back the newly-won GOP majority in 2000 to Tom Daschle and the Democrats.

BRUSHFIRE ALERT: Conservatives and Rhode Island Republicans deserve a competitive GOP primary race for the U.S. senate seat currently occupied by Lincoln Chafee. So please sign the petition below urging Mayor Laffey to get in the race to give voters a choice and conservatives a chance.

They guy who wrote the petition:

Chuck Muth is President and CEO of Citizen Outreach and a professional political consultant. He also is a former executive director of the American Conservative Union, a former National Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus, a former county GOP chairman, state party executive director, communications director, press secretary, direct mail fundraising consultant and legislative candidate.

This is going to be a fun one to watch. I don't know if it will take the Club for Growth's initial involvement to make this interesting. This guy Muth seems to know what he is doing, he made it into the local press, and if he can get a few thousand signatures it might we be enough to get both Laffey and the Club for Growth interested in the campaign.

Posted at 01:12 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Rhode Island | Technorati

Saturday, April 16, 2005

RI-Sen: Stephen Laffey Primary Challenge to Lincoln Chafee

Posted by Bob Brigham

National Republicans and Bob Novak are scared:

National Republican leaders are pressuring Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey to stay out of the Rhode Island Republican primary election against liberal Sen. Lincoln Chafee. [...]

Laffey, who is to the right of Chafee, is described by his supporters as confident that he would win the primary against the incumbent senator.

DavidNYC has a great post about Chafee's problems in the general election over at Daily Kos.

Posted at 03:42 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Rhode Island | Comments (1) | Technorati

RI-Sen: Chafee's War Purse

Posted by Bob Brigham


WASHINGTON -- Sen. Lincoln Chafee, who is likely to face a strong challenge in his re-election race in 2006, raised about $136,000 in the last three months, far less than other New England senators gearing up their campaigns.

Ouch. That is embarrassing.

At least two Rhode Island Democrats have announced they will challenge Chafee, who is seeking his second full term. He was appointed in November 1999 after the death of his father, Sen. John Chafee, to fill the remainder of the term. He was elected to a full term in 2000.

Democrats Sheldon Whitehouse, a former Rhode Island attorney general, and Secretary of State Matt Brown have each announced they plan to challenge Chafee.

According to campaign reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, Chafee has raised a little more than $1 million for the 2006 race since the last election, and has about $765,000 in cash on hand.

Not only is Chafee's fundraiser inept, but incompetence seems to be a trait Chafee looks for when hiring, check out the damage control:

"The senator is $1 million ahead of where he was at this time in the 2000 race," spokesman Stephen Hourahan said.

So with five years to raise money, Senator Chafee is no better than he was when he was thrust into an unexpected race while mourning his father's death?

Posted at 01:10 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Rhode Island | Technorati

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

RI-Sen: Chafee Turns on Tom DeLay

Posted by Bob Brigham

From CQ, via The Stakeholder:

A second Senate Republican facing a difficult election next year suggested Monday that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay needs to do more to address ethics accusations leveled against him recently.

"We've got to uphold the highest standards of legality and ethics,'' Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., said Monday. "You can't have your leader under a cloud. It makes it difficult to run."

But here's the line everyone is thinking:

Political analysts say it is prudent for Republicans running for re-election in 2006 to anticipate attacks from Democrats if they fail to speak out against DeLay.

Of course, Chafee didn't demand DeLay resign. So by my count he's still fair game. Atrios says Chafee should flip.

Posted at 09:36 AM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Rhode Island | Technorati

Monday, April 04, 2005

2006 Primary: Should Matt Brown drop out?

Posted by Bob Brigham

NBC 10 in Providence is running a poll:

This week the jockeying is in full swing for the Democrats trying to unseat Sen. Lincoln Chafee.

We have two congressmen -- U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy and U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin declining to give up their seats.

And both of them urging the only declared candidate, Sec. of State Matt Brown to leave the race.

Former Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse seems to be the most likely nominee to face Chafee but Brown appears ready to force a primary.

Rappers, put on your political consulting hats, and tell me.

Should Matt Brown drop out of the race for Senate?

Currently, 66% are saying No.

Last week, I looked at the 2006 Democratic Party Primary for U.S. Senate and voiced my dismay at this quote:

But state Democratic Party Chairman William Lynch said: "It's never a good thing to have primaries."

In an effort to wipe the egg off his face, Lynch showed up at a Brown fundraiser and his quotes suggest he is quite shellshocked:

State Democratic Party Chairman William Lynch said his presence at the Hi-Hat didn't necessarily mean he would support Brown over former state Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse, who is expected to announce today his candidacy against Brown in the Democratic primary.

"The party may or may not endorse someone in a primary," Lynch said. "There have been times when the party has, and there have been times when the party hasn't."

Posted at 01:53 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Rhode Island | Technorati

Saturday, April 02, 2005

U.S. Senate "Nuclear Option" and 2006 midterm elections

Posted by Bob Brigham

Over at DailyKos, Kargo X has kickstarted a conversation on the coming "Nuclear Option" -- the Republican scheme to end the filibuster and gain absolute power.

If the GOP pushes forward with this power grab, it will force a major backlash against Republicans in the 2006 midterm elections. During the Schiavo usurpation, Bush dropped 10 pts in the time it took for Santorum to permanently tie himself to the issue.

If the GOP continues their quest for absolute power, the backlash will be severe. Already, Democrats have 12 Republican Senators (facing re-election in 2006) on record with their Social Security vote.

It has become conventional wisdom that Americans oppose the GOP plan to privatize Social Security. If the GOP moves for absolute control of the Senate while Bush forces privatization then the storyline gets a villian in a potent way. Add Tom DeLay as the public face of Republicans in Congress, a splintering of the conservative coalition, and a united Democratic Party. Together, this could result in a major restructuring of party perception in a nationalized 2006 midterm election cycle.

Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) wants to be President so he needs to protect his record. In addition, the following Republican Senators need to worry about running for re-election in 2006:

  • Senator George Allen (R-VA)*
  • Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT)*
  • Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI)*
  • Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH)
  • Senator John Ensign (R-NV)*
  • Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)*
  • Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)*
  • Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ)*
  • Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)*
  • Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN)*
  • Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)*
  • Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
  • Senator Jim Talent (R-MO)*
  • Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY)*

* Social Security: on record voting in favor of "deep benefit cuts or a massive increase in debt."

In addition, such a move would allow the following Democrats a hero vote to bolster their 2006 re-elections:

  • Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI)
  • Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
  • Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV)
  • Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
  • Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE)
  • Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
  • Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND)
  • Senator Jon Corzine (D-NJ)
  • Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN)
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
  • Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA)
  • Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI)
  • Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT)
  • Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE)
  • Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL)
  • Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Posted at 06:36 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Arizona, Indiana, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Nuclear Option, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wyoming | Technorati

Friday, April 01, 2005

Rhode Island 2006 Democratic Party Primary for U.S. Senate

Posted by Bob Brigham

Providence Journal:

PROVIDENCE -- Rhode Island's former attorney general and U.S. Attorney Sheldon Whitehouse advised close family and friends earlier this week that he has decided to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Lincoln D. Chafee.

Barring the unexpected, Whitehouse's long-anticipated entry into the closely watched Senate race guarantees the spectacle of a two-man fight for the Democratic nomination to take on Chafee in November 2006.

A formal announcement by the 49-year-old Whitehouse is expected Monday, but he signaled his decision in a series of e-mails in which he foresaw that U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy would pull himself out of the running before the week was out.

Facing a potentially costly primary contest against Secretary of State Matthew Brown, the only announced Democratic candidate for Chafee's Senate seat so far, Whitehouse also took the occasion to state the obvious: "I will have to become a fundraising demon in the new quarter, which will bring you expensive requests for contributions, contacts and so forth."

This sounds a lot like Pennsylvania, almost sounds like a pattern...

Party Bosses back a candidate who lost a Primary campaign for his state's top job:

In 1998, [Whitehouse] beat out two Democratic competitors to become the state's attorney general, but did not survive a three-way primary when he ran for governor four years later. He trailed former state Sen. Myrth York by 926 votes, with then-Rep. Antonio Pires placing a distant third.

Candidate hires top-dollar consultants:

Whitehouse advised these supporters on Tuesday he had already opened a campaign account and hired well-known Washington political consultant Mike Donilon. [...]

When asked whether the Washington-based Donilon, a top adviser to Sen. John F. Kerry's presidential campaign who also worked on the Rhode Island campaigns of U.S. Sen. Jack Reed and Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline, was already on the Whitehouse campaign payroll, Preston said: "Mike would be part of any Whitehouse campaign team."

(Preston said the Rhode Island race would be one of two high-profile races for Donilon, who has also signed on to work for the reelection of one of the national GOP's top Democratic targets in '06, freshman Florida Sen. Bill Nelson.)

Campaign uses other elected officials to strong-arm and force out any other Democrats (so candidate doesn't lose like he he did in gubernatorial primary):

Without formally announcing, Whitehouse already has the backing of many in the state's political elite, including Kennedy and Langevin, who have both publicly urged the 35-year-old Brown, who is midway through his first term in office, to get out of the race. [...]

Brown campaign spokesman Matt Burgess said the secretary of state has no intention of leaving the race, and "looks forward to a thorough and thoughtful discussion of how to best solve the problems people in Rhode Island are facing everyday."

Burgess also sought to minimize the significance of Whitehouse's high-wattage political backing, saying: "This race is going to be decided by people in Rhode Island -- not a handful of political insiders and politicians. It just doesn't work that way anymore."

The State Democratic Party comes out against democracy:

But state Democratic Party Chairman William Lynch said: "It's never a good thing to have primaries."

Never. As is in democratic primaries are not ever good; on no occasion; at no time; under no circumstances. Letting the People participate in democracy is never a good thing.

Posted at 05:18 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island | Comments (4) | Technorati

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

2006 Rhode Island Senate: Kennedy out

Posted by Bob Brigham


WASHINGTON -- Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., on Wednesday ruled out a run for the Senate in 2006, saying he could better serve his constituents by staying in the House and serving on the Appropriations Committee. [...]

Bill Lynch, the state's Democratic Party chairman, said he thought it was the right decision because the state could suffer if it no longer had a representative on the Appropriations Committee. But he said he thought Kennedy would have easily beat Chafee.

"I have mixed feelings about it," he said. "What is clear is that there's consensus in the Rhode Island community that Sen. Chafee is very vulnerable. That much doesn't seem to be in dispute."

Another Democrat who has been mulling a run is Sheldon Whitehouse, the former state Attorney General.

Whitehouse said Wednesday that he wait until next week to make any announcements about his plans.

"I thank U.S. Rep. Kennedy for his kind words of encouragement today regarding my candidacy," Whitehouse said. "For personal reasons, I will defer making any public announcements regarding the 2006 campaign until Monday morning."

Lynch said he spoke with Whitehouse earlier this week and his sense is that Whitehouse will run.

The only declared candidate for the race is Secretary of State Matt Brown, who Langevin last week said didn't have enough experience to work in the Senate. Lynch said he didn't share that view.

From what I'm hearing, Matt Brown is the frontrunner.

Posted at 09:14 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Rhode Island | Technorati

Monday, March 28, 2005

2006 Rhode Island Senate Democratic Primary

Posted by Bob Brigham

Providence Journal:

But I do get a kick out of his calling on Secretary of State Matt Brown to drop out of the race for the Democratic Senate nod and pave the way for an unimpeded bid by Rep. Patrick Kennedy, or, more likely, former Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse. Who is Langevin -- or anyone else -- to suggest Brown needs permission to run? [...]

Whitehouse has mulled so many offices this time around -- governor, lieutenant governor, and Senate -- that Chafee says it reminds him of the kids' game, Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Chafee wonders, "Where's he going to end up?"

It seems much more credible to think that Whitehouse, not Kennedy, will enter the Senate fray. Kennedy, whose father, Ted, is the famous Massachusetts senator, for years has episodically eyed a Senate bid and passed up the chances. As recently as December, he ruled out running in 2006 and urged Langevin on. Kennedy said it was more important that he stay in the House, where his service on the Appropriations Committee enables him to funnel big bucks to Rhode Island.

Though colorful, wealthy, and impassioned, Kennedy also has had a lot of personal scrapes that well-financed detractors -- you know, Swift-boat veteran types -- could rehash and turn into a campaign nightmare.

Still, with Langevin out, Sean Richardson, Kennedy's top aide, says the congressman is now taking a "serious" new look at a Senate run. My instinct: If Kennedy really wanted to be in the Senate, where he'd be in the direct shadow of his dad, he'd already be running.

Posted at 02:07 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Activism, Rhode Island | Technorati

Rhode Island 2006 Senate: Reproductive Rights

Posted by Bob Brigham

From Brian Faler in the Washington Post:

Abortion rights advocates were sighing with relief this week, after Rep. James R. Langevin (D-R.I.) announced that he will not challenge Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee (R-R.I.) , a supporter of abortion rights, in the 2006 elections.

Langevin, who was considered his party's preferred candidate -- but who opposes abortion rights -- said he will forgo the race to hold on to his current job. "I have come to the conclusion that rather than starting over in the Senate, I can be most effective for Rhode Island by building seniority in the House," he told the Associated Press.

Posted at 11:57 AM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Activism, Rhode Island | Comments (1) | Technorati

Saturday, March 26, 2005

2006 Rhode Island Senate Campaign

Posted by Bob Brigham


Rep. Patrick Kennedy is considering a run against Sen. Lincoln Chafee for the only congressional seat held by a Republican in heavily Democratic Rhode Island. The mere prospect of such a matchup next year has set tongues in motion.

"It would be a great race. The two are very evenly matched," said Brown University professor Darrell West, who has written a biography of Kennedy, 37. "Chafee is a sitting senator and people like him, but he has an 'R' next to his name in a 'D' state."

Kennedy, a six-term Democrat, initially ruled out running against Chafee, leaving the door open for his House colleague, Rep. James Langevin. But Langevin opted out earlier this week, and now Kennedy is taking a second look.

A Kennedy-Chafee race could thrust Rhode Island into the national political spotlight.

Posted at 09:43 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Rhode Island | Technorati

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Vote on Social Security

Posted by Bob Brigham

Yesterday, the Senate gave the following statement an up or down vote:

"It is the sense of the Senate that Congress should reject any Social Security plan that requires deep benefit cuts or a massive increase in debt."

Here are the 12 Senators (standing for re-election in 2006) who voted for deep social security cuts and massive debt:

Allen, George VA
Burns, Conrad MT
Chafee, Lincoln RI
Ensign, John NV
Hatch, Orrin UT
Hutchison, Kay Bailey TX
Kyl, Jon AZ
Lott, Trent MS
Lugar, Richard IN
Santorum, Rick PA
Talent, Jim MO
Thomas, Craig WY

Here is the link to the vote.

Posted at 09:24 AM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Arizona, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wyoming | Technorati

Rhode Island Archive: