Avedisian sees June deadline for Senate race decision

Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian, who is weighing whether to challenge U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse next year, says a Republican candidate would need to throw his hat into the ring by June if he wants to mount a competitive bid.

“I’m assuming sometime around June you would have to probably jump in, to be competitive,” Avedisian told me this morning. He and former Gov. Don Carcieri are widely seen as the G.O.P.’s top prospects to win back the seat Whitehouse took from the party when he defeated Lincoln Chafee in 2006.

Avedisian acknowledged he is seriously exploring whether to run for Senate in 2012 but declined to say more. He would presumably have the support of Governor Chafee, a close friend and longtime political ally, not to mention his predecessor as mayor of Rhode Island’s second-largest city.

Ken McKay, who is running for chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Party, had little to say on “Newsmakers” last week when asked whether Avedisian – star of the party’s moderate wing – would make a good candidate against Whitehouse. “I don’t know,” McKay said. “You’d have to see how that falls out. I’m not gonna sit here and handicap what’s good or bad for Republicans.”

Avedisian said he has met with both McKay and the other candidate for chairman, Patrick Sweeney, but won’t be making an endorsement ahead of tomorrow night’s Warwick Republican City Committee meeting. But he did have advice for the eventual winner.

“We need to get out of the business of fighting with one another and we need to start concentrating on winning elections,” Avedisian told me. “You can say, philosophically I want to do A, B or C – but if you don’t win, you don’t get to do anything.”

As an example, Avedisian pointed back to the unorthodox Rhode Island Republicans who won office in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, name-checking Claudine Schneider, Ron Machtley, John Chafee, Lila Sapinsley, Susan Farmer and our own Arlene Violet.

“They didn’t argue philosophically among all of them – they went out and won elections,” he said. “And that’s what I’ve been talking to the two of them about.”

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