The Republican Party Shouldn’t Get Involved In Lincoln Chafee’s Primary

You want to know why Republicans in Congress, particularly in the Senate, seem so weak, disorganized, and inept? It’s because of the same sort of mentality that led them to do this:

“The National Republican Senatorial Committee is up with its second ad this month attacking Cranston (R.I.) Mayor Steve Laffey, who is challenging Sen. Lincoln Chafee in next year’s GOP primary.

The new ad, which takes the form of a cartoon, paints Laffey as a comic-book character starring in “Laffeyland Tales.”

The narrator says Laffey used taxpayer dollars to soundproof his mayoral office and spent “thousands on spy cameras to spy on employees.”

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“Bizarre…but the joke’s on us,” the narrator says, adding that Cranston had the highest property taxes in the state under Laffey and that Laffey raised taxes twice. “Tax and Spend Steve Laffey … Nobody’s laughing now,” the narrator intones at the ad’s close.

The commercial, which hit the airwaves Sunday, was produced by OnMessage Inc. for the NRSC, according to spokesman Brian Nick.”

First of all, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is supposed to represent all Republicans, has no business getting involved in primaries at all. Imagine giving money to the NRSC and then having them spend it to support the prototypical RINO in a race against a slightly more conservative Republican. No wonder their fundraising stinks.

Aside from that, this is a dumb move for a second reason: it sends the message to Republicans up on the Hill that the Party will support them no matter what.

That’s a huge mistake.

Look, we all know that there are a lot of squishes in Congress, particularly from some of these North-Eastern states, and that they’re not always going to support the party. We should be able to live with that because the reality is that you’re not going to get a Tom Coburn or George Allen elected in liberal states like Rhode Island or Maine.

Still, even if you’re stuck with these RINOS, you should at least be able to count on their support when the going gets tough — but that’s not true at all. Even when we really need their votes, the RINOs may go the other way.

Why is that?

It’s because the GOP doesn’t enforce Party discipline. In Chafee’s case, you have a left-of-center “Republican,” who people thought might switch parties in 2002, and he didn’t even vote for Bush in 2004. Yet, you have the GOP running ads against another Republican in an effort to get Chafee reelected.


Let Chafee sink or swim on his own and if he sinks, Laffey wins, and horror or horrors, we lose the seat — which isn’t a given by the way — and then guess what? We’ll have a bunch of squishes thinking seriously about whether they want to keep crossing the Party over and over on important issues if it costs them support at election time.

The truth is that we may have 55 Republican Senators, but since 4-7 of them may jump ship on any given issue, in practical terms, the GOP can never be sure of getting 50 votes when it counts. That needs to stop and if the GOP were to stand by and watch as Lincoln Chafee’s political career came to an abrupt end, it would be a great way to send a message to the other RINOs.

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