The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

10 September 2006

Rhode Island Senate Primary, Chafee, Laffey, Whitehouse


Big Contests Fuel New England Talk Radio

Part One

When hosting shows in New England, need a good topic? With campaign season now in high gear, it doesn't take much effort to find one:

In Rhode Island, the nation's most fascinating election contest is down to its final hours and talk radio has reaped the rewards. That's where liberal GOP Senator Lincoln Chafee is facing a heated primary challenge by conservative Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey.

There are growing indications that Chafee may be knocked out of office by Laffey, a former WPRO-AM talk show host, on Tuesday.

What would happen in the general election, however, is another matter, as some polls show Laffey would be clobbered in November by liberal Democrat challenger Sheldon Whitehouse.

The Providence Journal has substantial coverage here.

But in a strange twist, noted here by the New York Times, the national GOP has spent millions to defend Chafee, while trashing Laffey at every turn. And from both sides, Providence television and radio stations are airing a near- non- stop series of attack ads:

With a barrage of television advertisements and the mobilization of its get-out-the-vote machine, the national Republican Party has lined up in Rhode Island to beat back a conservative primary challenge to the most liberal Republican in the Senate, Lincoln Chafee.

The outcome on Tuesday could help determine whether Democrats have a shot at taking back the Senate.

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. Chafeeā€™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.

Laffey, however, has an engaging presence, impressing many who see him for the first time on television. Here's MSNBC's Chris Matthews (of all people) showering Laffey with praise during a recent interview:

But Laffey's strong opposition from the national GOP may very well help him going into November, as it allows him to campaign as an independent against an unpopular national party leadership. At the same time, Chafee's seemingly odd boost from the Republicans could hurt more than help in Rogue's Island.

Here's a recent Laffey ad that's been running on Providence television stations. Note the themes of spending, illegal immigration and gas prices:

Tuesday's wild card is the huge number of unenrolled (independent) voters, who can vote for any of these candidates. Will liberals cross over to vote for Laffey, hoping he will lose in November? Nobody's quite sure.

For a number of reasons, New Englanders are very rapidly abandoning both the Democrats and Republicans, to instead register as independents. How that will impact a number of contests this year isn't clear.

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  • I think there are many Republicans would love to kick Chafee out of office. His RINO tactics are infuriatingly typical of the quasi-moderates who inhabit the Northeast.

    He is in favor of higher income taxes, higher property taxes, higher capital taxes, and the death tax. Lincoln Chafee has never met a tax hike he didn't like. He was opposed to Judge Roberts and Judge Alito. He was against funding for the war in Afghanistan. And now he is in favor of cutting and running from terrorism.

    Sounds like a classic liberal democrat to me.

    By Blogger The Benson Report, at 10 September, 2006 15:35  

  • Tell me about it! Here in Connecticut-stan, we have RINOs named Shays, Simmons, Johnson, heck even our governor would be a RINO. Then again despite us being home to two influential talk stations in New Haven's WELI and Hartford's WTIC, we have to suffer with left of center Republicans and ultra-left Democrats like John Larson (Hartford) Diane Farrell (Westport) and Ned Lamont.

    And don't nobody get me started on Dodd.

    By Blogger The Real Bob Anthony, at 10 September, 2006 19:05  

  • Benson,
    The "death tax" is a tax that effects maybe one 1 out of 5000 people, maybe 3% to 5% tops of the population. Benson, unless you are in the top 2% this tax does not effect your life. You should be against this idea of lesislating for the elite. Any one with an ounce of sense and knowledge Republican or Democrat would understand that the "estate tax" is not an important thing to be fighting to get rid of. Come on man, give me a break. You sound ignorant even bringing it up, it does not effect 95% of America. This is EXACTLY why GOP submissive Republicans are in trouble. This is an example of an issue that has turned off working class Republicans. No offense, you sometimes make good points on this message board, you are off base and should research exactly what this tax is. If you did, I bet you would agree with me. My mother, a die hard Republican, even gets this issue. You can to. You spew the RNC radio talking point, it is a dis-service to 95% of America to rally around a tax that hardly anybody pays.

    As far as this primary, I find it amazing how the RNC is rallying around Chaffey who ideologically (as you pointred out) is indeed a liberal, in a desperate attempt to cling to power. R.I is a liberal state, Chaffey is their only hope, and they are willing to smear a fellow conservative (Laffey) in order to maintain power. Kind of scary, if I was a conservative I would be OUTRAGED that a conservative is being smeared in order to maintain power. Very interesting, and it displays RNC desperation.
    Take care

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 10 September, 2006 19:33  

  • Ned Lamont is an "ultra-left Democrat"?

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 10 September, 2006 20:56  

  • Minister of Propaganda,

    Actually the Estate Tax or "Death Tax" as people who like to hoowink the American People call it applies to only .25% of the AMerican public. 99.75% of the American People will never pay a cent of estate tax. A ouple may pass 7 million dollars to their heirs without any tax liability.

    By Blogger TED, at 11 September, 2006 00:06  

  • Yes, Ned Lamont is an ultra-left Democrat!

    He ran a a one-issue ultra-left campaign. The effect of the August 8 primary will end up as a win - win for the Republicans.

    If Lamont lost, the nutroots would be branded as ineffectual, irrelevant, extremist, and destructive.

    But Lamont won, and the nutroots were branded as powerful, relevant, extremist, and destructive."

    The Connecticut voters simply will not permit a loon like Lamont to win the election in November. Lieberman will be re-elected to the Senate. effectively cutting the legs off the liberal far left.

    By Blogger The Benson Report, at 11 September, 2006 00:10  

  • Benson

    60% of America supports Lamont's idea of a time-table withdraw from IRAQ, 60%, hardly RADICAL, hardly "left wing". Bush in 1999 attacked Clinton for not having a TIME-TABLE in Kosovo. BUSH, Benson, supported a TIMETABLE. Radical?? Left wing??
    A time-table is not radical. You spout one right wing talking point after another, noe of them valid. You were buried into the ground on the "death tax", now you were just smacked around on Lamont. How much worse do I have to rip apart your stale talking points?? Do you want more abuse?
    Lamont a left winger!!!!! He supports the idea of a time-table draw down from a war!!! Bush supported it in 1999!!!! radial!!!! far left!!!!
    Benso, see what Right wing radio does to do?? You sound like an ignorant fool. I'm smacking you around on this board, so are other posters. Right wjng radio turns you into a dope!

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 11 September, 2006 08:12  

  • Read my message for a change, instead of launching into your time-worn repetitive talking points.

    60% of the Connecticut voters do not and will not support Lamont. If you think Lamont will win with 60%, you are just another one of the nutroots nutroots.

    The more you write, the more you end up smacking yourself.

    Hmmm... What's the word that describes your postings?

    1. Gratification from being emotionally abused.
    2. Pleasure from being humiliated, either by another or by oneself.
    3. A willingness to subject oneself to unpleasant or trying experiences.

    Yup, it seems to fit.

    By Blogger The Benson Report, at 11 September, 2006 10:58  

  • Hey Benson, total hackery

    The 60% I refer to is the 60% of America in support of a time-table, the 60% not approving of the Iraqi war, not Ct. 60% in America, those against the Iraqi war, similiar to Lamont's ideas of a times-table which 60% of America as a whole agrees with, hack. You humiliated me? I smacked you around on every last discussion.

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 11 September, 2006 19:29  

  • The enemy thinks that Ned Lamont is a far-left Democrat.

    Maybe this will be easier than any of us realized.....

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 14 September, 2006 00:23  

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