National GOP getting behind Doherty’s campaign
Wasshington, D.C. Republicans are obviously salivating over Brendan Doherty’s congressional candidacy in Rhode Island’s 1st District. With incumbent Democrat David Cicilline looking like a one-term wonder, Doherty appears poised to make a serious run at a seat that nobody in the political community thought would be a GOP pick-up in the presidential year of 2012.
The 1st RI congressional district went 66 percent for Barack Obama in 2008. Rhode Island is a state that in national politics is usually as cobalt blue as Narragansett Bay on a shimmering summer afternoon.
Republicans have not held this seat since the early 1990s, when Ron Machtley (current president of Bryant University) was congressman. Machtley was a moderate Republican who left to unsuccessfully run for the Republican nomination for governor in 1994. (Machtley lost to the GOP gubernatorial nomination to Lincoln Almond, who won the State House).
Doherty has attracted U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, and Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska to a March 8 fundraiser at the Hope Club in Providence.
Others on the host committee for the two-tier event (general ticket price of $250 per person; private reception for $2,500) include Warwick Mayor Scott Avedesian, Cranston Mayor Alan Fung, former Gov. Don Carcieri, State Rep. Joe Trillo, R-Warwick, John Robitaille, the GOP gubernatorial candidate in 2010, Frank Sullivan, Cara Cromwell of Bristol, campaign manager for 2010 Republican congressional candidate John Loughlin, State Sen. Christopher Ottiano, R-Portsmouth, lawyer Richard Kirby and Patrick Sweeney, executive director of the RI GOP.
National Republicans would be wise to allow Doherty to carve a moderate stance; the Tea Party-Rick Santorum-Eric Cantor right wing political stuff isn’t likely to play well in the Ocean State’s 1st District. Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe’s abrupt departure (and her reasons for doing so) from a 2012 reelection race ought to give Republicans pause about pushing the far right agenda in New England. But it probably won’t, given the tenor in Washington these days.