Thursday, August 25, 2005

Steven Laffey has friends in medium places

From Charlie Bakst's column in today's Providence Journal:

Who is Republican National Committeeman Rob Manning?

Or, who is he to jeopardize a national GOP contribution to the state party of up to $500,000 just because it somehow might help Sen. Lincoln Chafee win a primary over Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey?

The funds generally are for grass-roots party-building efforts like voter identification. The degree to which the money might help Chafee vis-a-vis Laffey is open to debate, and details are so arcane that Governor Carcieri said yesterday that he's looking for answers himself. "We'll work this out," he said.

No doubt. But whether he can also succeed in getting Laffey to leave Chafee alone and run for, say, lieutenant governor, remains to be seen.
Laffey says Manning "tries to represent all Republicans." He certainly comes across as representing Laffey. And surely, Manning -- who so far has refused to sign off on the national party funds -- isn't touting Chafee. "I'd prefer to talk about other candidates," he says.
Manning backs George Bush on Iraq and on tax cuts; Chafee does not. And, bristles Manning, in a reference to a write-in Chafee cast in 2004, "I voted for the president. He didn't."
With Laffey's backing, Manning last year won the national committeeman slot over former Lt. Gov. Bernie Jackvony. Jackvony said yesterday of Manning, "He's over his head."

But Manning did not sound to me as if he felt out of his element or eager to leave the spotlight. Indeed, he reminded me a lot of Laffey -- confident, cool, and pleased with himself.

Oh, he's in over his head all right, as is Laffey, and in the end, I expect that party officials in D.C. will sit on these guys and Chafee will get the nomination. But they show no sign of letting up for now, and the folks at the Club for Growth will be happy to keep them in the spotlight and hacking away at Chafee for as long as they can. Pass the popcorn, please.


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