One day after headlining a fundraiser for former state Rep. John Loughlin’s congressional campaign, House Minority Leader Brian Newberry is calling on Loughlin’s opponent to drop out of the race for the Republican nomination.
In a message posted on Facebook, the top House Republican said former State Police Col. Brendan Doherty should either end his “misguided” 1st District campaign against Congressman David Cicilline and get his donors to back Loughlin or switch gears and run against Congressman Jim Langevin in the 2nd District.
“To win an election, any election, requires both money and passion from your supporters,” Newberry wrote. “Col. Doherty cannot invent the passion that does not exist for his campaign in the 1st District. The contrast between the two fundraisers this weekend is stark in this regard.”
Doherty has “no chance” of winning next year’s Republican primary, Newberry added. “There simply is no support for him among the people who will actually vote in that primary next year,” he said, and Doherty “is helping David Cicilline by diverting money and energy from the Loughlin campaign best spent elsewhere.”
The former state police leader lives in Cumberland, which is part of the 1st District, but Newberry said that doesn’t prevent him from making a bid for Langevin’s 2nd District seat. “We are a small state and the issues are the same in both districts,” he wrote.
Doherty spokesman Dante Bellini brushed off Newberry’s comments. “We’re simply not going to dignify that with any sort of response,” Bellini told WPRI.com. “It’s just silly to respond.”
As of June 30, Doherty’s campaign had $270,233 on hand while Loughlin’s had $302. But Loughlin’s supporters point out he is currently serving in Iraq and has not formally announced his candidacy yet. Newberry said he’s confident Loughlin can raise the money needed to challenge Cicilline when he returns from overseas.
Update: Doherty’s team took a tougher line in an email blast to supporters this afternoon, describing Loughlin as “last year’s loser” and declaring Newberry’s statement as a “reprehensible” attempt to clear the field for him. The message asked Doherty’s supporters to take to Facebook and defend Doherty – politely.
“Brendan is in this race to win it and nothing is going to slow him down,” the email said. Newberry’s statement, which originally appeared on Doherty’s Facebook page, has since been removed by one of the two sides, but it’s still up on Newberry’s page.
• Related: Doherty, Loughlin, Cicilline race to raise cash as quarter closes (Sept. 23)
(photo: General Assembly)