Who’s supporting who in the race for RIGOP chair?

By Dan McGowan

A former Providence mayoral candidate will square off with the head of the state’s Republican Chair’s Caucus on Thursday as the R.I. Republican Party prepares to elect its third chairman in two years.

Dan Harrop, a doctor who was trounced by incumbent Mayor David Cicilline in 2006, and Mark Smiley, who is viewed as a leader within the more conservative faction of the state GOP, are running to replace Mark Zaccaria, who announced his plans to step down following an election season that saw the party lose seven seats in the General Assembly and all three of its federal races.

So who is the favorite? After the jump, read the major endorsements for each candidate.

Dan Harrop

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung
“Dr. Harrop has proven throughout his reign as finance chairman that he can garner financial support despite the constant flux of leadership in our party over the past few years. Without these dollars, our party won’t be able to operate, get our message out, or support our candidates. Additionally, he has walked the walk and committed his own personal resources to our cause, and those of numerous candidates. This is the type of proven track record that I want to see.”

Catherine Taylor, former secretary of state candidate
“What we need in this Party is some continuity with our leadership. While we’ve previously had high turnover with our Chair, Dr. Harrop has committed that he is in for the long haul. It is important to both candidates and donors to have that central figure head. Dr. Harrop has held every major position within the Providence GOP executive board and knows what it takes to run an organization. Most importantly, Dan’s fundraising ability is unparalleled within the GOP. He has been the finance chair for two cycles and has assisted in raising well over six figures for the RIGOP and its candidates.”

GOP city/town chairs
“Dan Harrop is best positioned to raise money, and manage the process of re-birth. He has the gravitas expected by significant donors. We believe he is best positioned to bring younger and more diverse new members to our party, and he’s proven that by his past actions. And he’s committed to building the Big Tent the GOP must be in Rhode Island if we are to be competitive, respected and effective in elections.”

Rhode Island Young Republicans
Dr. Harrop has committed to elevating qualified women, youth, and minorities in the state infrastructure, such as fellow endorsed candidates Giovanni Calise & Danny Hall. His contacts with several enthusiastic youth movements and organizations are what we need to grow the local town committees, find new talent to run for general assembly seats, and increase our volunteer forces for our state-wide candidates.

Mark Smiley

Brendan Doherty, former congressional candidate
“I commend Mark Zaccaria for his dedication to that end. I believe however, that the next party chair needs to recognize that we are in changing times and it will require a different brand of innovation and a paradigm change to broaden the necessary appeal. I believe the right person for that job is Mark Smiley.”

John Robitaille, former gubernatorial candidate
“My vote is going to the person who I believe is the best administrator and not necessarily to the man who I am perfectly aligned with on all the issues. Mark Smiley is an entrepreneur and an experienced manager. He has organizationally shown leadership with the Chairman’s Caucus and with the volunteers. He has my vote and my support.”

Barry Hinckley, former Senate candidate
“I worked closely with Mark for 18 months as I traveled the state running for US Senate. What I learned about Mark, which separates him from most, is that he is always well prepared and has a plan. Many people in this game show up, which is great, but showing up prepared with a plan is how you win.”

Barbara Homes, R.I. GOP treasurer
“His desire is to promote the GOP in a light that advocates for businesses, works to empower women and minorities in our midst thus enlarging our base. This attitude and posture will greatly enhance the parties impact.”

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