Response: ‘Essentially the RIGOP has no money and no talent’

In response to this morning’s post about the GOP in blue states, a reader named “RInative” offered an insightful comment about the Rhode Island party’s plight and what it should do next – good enough to run in full here:

Mr. Graham offers up a good solution but I am not certain it would work in RI because it says “spend money” and it’s a documented fact that RIGOP is incapable of raising it. No one gives to the state party because with the exception of the brief Ken McKay era, it has been run badly for the past 20 years. The Almond and Carcieri teams invested no effort in building the party and developing a “bench” so there are few Rhode Island Republicans with any real political experience unless they’ve worked elsewhere – or for Democrats. Another problem for the RIGOP – because there are so few R electeds – and the GOP stain is so bad – the very thin GOP bench can’t find work here and so they leave – Ken McKay is the best example, but just last week, Doherty’s manager, Ian Prior, took a job in DC. The talented people who remain here and lean Republican try to make a living while avoiding the GOP label and anything to do with party politics.

So essentially the RIGOP has no money and no talent. So where to? The mayors are the one bright spot – Fung, Fontaine and Avedesian. They have all been good in their roles but none has the star power to contend in a governor’s race. Kilmartin looks comfortable in the AG role and it would be hard to displace him on performance at this point. I think that there’s hope for the RIGOP in three races: Treasurer, Secretary of State and Lt Governor. With the exception of the master lever pullers, Rhode Islanders have always been ticket-splitters – especially outside of the cities – so it’s not hard to see how these statewide offices are winnable. The key for GOP candidates is to get in the races early with a well-defined platform so the can lay out their ideas and don’t get lost in the noise around a D primary. The party would also do well to recruit Catherine Taylor to run again and work with her to build a strong group of women candidates for GA seats.

I don’t think RIGOP should focus on Governor’s race – it has not helped the party in the past and it takes all the strength out of the base. If a self-funded candidate comes along – great – but at this point he would be a sacrificial lamb. (And let’s agree to stop saying that Robitaille “came close”. Yes, he grabbed the whopping R base and came in 2nd in a 4 way – which is actually equivalent to coming in 2nd in a 2 way.)

The previous comment addresses some of the issues – and I will agree that to the extent RIGOP can distance itself from the national party, the better off it will be. However, until RIGOP can build itself up by fielding successful moderate candidates – and 2014 may be the last chance – the national issues are almost irrelevant in state and local races.

Agree? Disagree? Not sure? Share your own thoughts below.

• Related: Lessons from the blue states as RI Republicans prepare for ’14 (Jan. 11)

6 thoughts on “Response: ‘Essentially the RIGOP has no money and no talent’

  1. I read with interest the comment by “RInative.” He/she made some decent points. He/she obviously has some substance and perhaps relevant experience. In view of all that, I am puzzled as to why he/she declines to sign a real name to his/her dispatch. I think your web site should require real names, a point I have stressed repeatedly to all kinds of news organizations – with little success, although I see some signs this is beginning to change.
    Also, Ted, in reference to your suggestion that the GOP might be better off skipping the 2014 federal races in RI, I strongly disagree even though I like the Democratic incumbents. I believe in the two-party system and it seems to me that it’s hard for a party to claim to be a major party if it fails to put up candidates for important posts. And even though incumbents Reed, Cicilline and Langevin likely will have an easy time winning, you never can tell , and certainly any challenger who made an impressive bid in 2014 would position himself/herself for a future race for those offices or another office in 2016 or later.
    M. Charles Bakst

    • Requiring users to give their real names, particularly in a small state such as Rhode Island would for the most part shut out a lot of legitimate discussion and opinion. Expressing a negative opinion or even one they don’t like about unions, public employees, politicians or other powerful people in this state would likely make your average person a target for retaliation. Nice idea but a bad one.

  2. I have to agree on Kilmartin, he has done a very good job in a quiet manner as AG. If you are a Repiblican you have to look at the defeat the whole party took in November, and be very careful where you want to put your time an effort into.

  3. While Mr. Bakst enjoyed a long career with a byline and deserves our considerable professional respect, I must say I can appreciate RINative’s interest in commenting anonymously.

    The best political discussions and analyses occur when the participants are label-free. In that environment, no one can say “he just says that because he’s a Democrat” or “she’s just bitter because she supports someone else.” Rhode Island politics is a hell hole because we’re so quick to demonize each other based on party affiliation that we fail to listen to each other’s ideas. Forums that allow anonymous participation let those of us with with a brain — but no byline — participate in the analysis.

  4. RInative is right that the RI GOP is devoid of talent. This is indisputable. What is singular about Rhode Island is just how devoid of talent the party really is, a dearth greater than in even the bluest of other blue states. Something special is going in here, but it is politically awkward to admit it.

    The reason why there are very few talented members of the RI GOP is that they all run as Democrats. It is really as simple as that. In fact, conservatives do have a solid majority of the General Assembly, and if you look at the policy that has been enacted over the past decade, it has been one conservative victory after another. From a staggering tax cut for the wealthy to a historic dismantling of social programs and an unprecedented jihad against public sector employment, Rhode Island conservatives have much to celebrate. Best of all, they can still blame the Democrats for the disastrous economic consequences of right-wing policy.

    So when we talk about the failure of Rhode Island Republicans, let us remember that they have been very successful in the area that matters most–getting their vision enacted.

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