Discover why so many good people are reluctant to run for public office.
Dec 3, 2008
Being a resident of Steve Laffey's hometown of Cranston RI, I was able to observe the Laffey-Chafee primary in 2006 first hand. I was contacted at least a dozen times during the summer of 2006 by the Lincoln Chafee organization conducting the infamous "push polls" Mayor Laffey discusses in his book. And while I had never met Mayor Laffey and did not agree with him on a few of the issues I had made up my mind that despite the fact that he was somewhat of a long shot he was the right guy to be the next United States Senator from Rhode Island. You see Steve Laffey stood for something and his Republican primary opponent Lincoln Chafee did not. "Primary Mistake" is Steve Laffey's personal memoir of the 2006 Republican Senatorial primary here in little Rhode Island. You will be amazed at how the Republican establishment simply dismissed the Mayor and threw virtually all of the available resources to an incumbant U.S. Senator who many were predicting would leave the Republican party after the election win or lose. In "Primary Mistake" Steve Laffey details the three-pronged strategy that was employed by the Chafee campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee to defeat an upstart Mayor who dared run for a seat in the Senate that Mr. Chafee felt was his legacy. Early in the campaign the NRSC launched a series of personal attacks on Steve Laffey. This was virtually unheard of in Republican circles and violated one of Ronald Reagan's cardinal rules "Republicans should never launch personal attacks on other Republicans." Next, the Chafee campaign imported a cadre of out-of-state volunteers in a desperate effort to bolster it's sagging fortunes in the summer of 2006. As I indicated earlier I was contacted by the Chafee campaign almost every week during that summer and it was clear to me that the Chafee folks were extremely worried. The final piece of the Chafee strategy was to take advantage of a quirk in Rhode Island election law that allowed independents to vote in the Republican primary. It had become quite apparent that true blue Republican voters were heavily tilting towards Laffey. After all, he was right on this issues that mattered to most Republican voters. He opposed partial birth abortion and was against granting amnesty to illegal aliens. Laffey also thought that school vouchers were a good idea and was determined to do something about the expensive and wasteful pork-barrel projects that Congress had been doling out for years. Yes, if Lincoln Chafee was going to win this battle he would have to identify and encourage moderate and liberal independents to vote in the Republican primary. It was his only chance. Well, as we now know with the help of all those independent voters Lincoln Chafee would go on to win the Republican primary in a fairly close race. But Mr. Chafee's victory would be short-lived. In November Rhode Island voters elected liberal Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse as their next United States Senator. The National Republican establishment had invested considerable resources in Rhode Island in an effort to hang on to a seat held my a man who was a RINO (Republican In Name Only). They had to divert resources that might have made a real difference in races being fought by real Republican candidates in states like Virginia, Montana and Pennsylvania. Election night 2006 would prove to be disastrous for the Republican party. And as for Lincoln Chafee?? Just last week it was revealed that he has left the Republican party. Surprise, surprise!! Since Steve Laffey is not a writer by trade this is hardly the best written book you will ever read. As another reviewer has indicated Mr. Laffey tends to ramble from time to time. But Steve Laffey is writing from the heart and cares deeply about his issues. "Primary Mistake" should serve as an excellent case study for those planning on working for Republican congressional candidates in the next election cycle. The G.O.P. made lots of mistakes in 2006 that Laffey hopes his book will help them to avoid in the future. This book is also an important piece of Rhode Island history that should be a fixture in the libraries of our state for decades to come. If you are a political junkie like me then you just might want to give this one a try.
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Paul Tognetti (drifter51)
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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The inside story of the most shocking Republican primary of 2006—and what it means for the GOP’s future
Why should anyone care about a Senate primary in the nation’s smallest state? Because that one unique race tipped the balance of power in Washington and exposed everything that was wrong with the GOP in 2006. It also points the way toward the Republican Party’s recovery, in 2008 and beyond.
Steve Laffey isn’t the kind of slick politician who wanted to be a senator since kindergarten. He’s a down- to-earth guy, with working-class Irish Catholic roots, who made good in business and then wanted to save his hometown from financial ruin. As the twice elected mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island, he won over a city full of Democrats with Ronald Reagan’s classic message: Fight the special interests, cut out the waste, and opportunity for all.
But when he decided to challenge Senator Lincoln Chafee—the most liberal Republican in Congress— Laffey collided head on with the biggest names in the Washington Republican establishment. First, they tried to bully Laffey into dropping out. When that failed, they gave all their support and millions of dollars to Chafee, and even slandered Laffey to the press, breaking Reagan’s famous eleventh commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.”
Conservative activists nationwide were outraged and supported Laffey with thousands of e-mails, phone calls, and small donations. It was the ultimate David vs. Goliath campaign, drawing national ...