Republicans to Concede RI if Chaffey Loses Primary
Politics, they say, makes strange bedfellows. A classic case-in-point: The Republican Party is sparing no expense to help Lincoln Chafee, its least reliable Senator, get re-nominated. Further, the party has announced that it won’t even bother trying to retain the Rhode Island seat if the more conservative Stephen Laffey wins the primary.
In an extraordinary pre-emptive announcement, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has said it will concede Rhode Island to the Democrats should Stephen Laffey, the mayor of Cranston, defeat Mr. Chafee in the primary. Citing poll data, Republican leaders said they saw no way someone as conservative as Mr. Laffey could win in a state as Democratic as this; as it is, they are increasingly worried about Mr. Chafee’s hopes in a general election.
The result has been the striking sight of the national Republican Party, dominated by conservatives, using resources to save the seat of a Republican who said he voted against Mr. Bush in 2004. He chose instead to write in the name of the first President Bush.
Mr. Chafee has opposed many centerpiece Republican policies, from the war in Iraq to tax cuts to most restrictions on abortion. This week, he helped force a delay on the confirmation of John R. Bolton as the United States ambassador to the United Nations.
For all that, Republicans said they expected to spend more than $1.2 million on advertisements attacking Mr. Laffey, saturating the television stations of this state, the nation’s smallest. One advertisement lifts a line Republicans have used in countless attacks against Democrats, mocking the mayor as “tax-and-spend Steve Laffey.”
This is quite bizarre to those who think politics is mostly about ideological purity but perfectly reasonable to those who understand that pragmatism often reigns supreme.
Laffey would, without question, be preferable to Chafee in every way except one: He can’t win.
As noted here before, Chafee, annoying though he may be, is the most conservative Republican the party can possibly get in Rhode Island and still have a chance to win the seat. While Chafey votes like a Democrat most of the time, he at least can be counted on to vote for a Republican as Majority Leader and thus make it more likely that the party can retain its majority, including the chairmanships of the committees.
To the Club for Growth types, who prefer to lose rather than compromise, let me ask you this: Did you like Jim Jeffords better as a Republican who voted like a Democrat or as an Independent who voted with the Democrats?
via Taegan Goddard