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Rhode Island: National GOP Helps Secure Chafee Win

Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R) beat back a strong primary challenge from Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey (R) tonight, a victory for which national Republicans deserve considerable credit.

Sen. Lincoln Chafee
Sen. Chafee addresses supporters at his election night rally in Providence. Chafee defeated challenger Stephen Laffey in a close GOP primary race. (AP Photo)

The Republican National Committee, White House and National Republican Senatorial Committee coordinated on a vast voter identification effort on Chafee's behalf that, combined with sophisticated microtargeting and a big get-out-the-vote operation, won the day for the senator.

Top party operatives used the Chafee primary as a dry-run for the fall -- bringing in activists from across the country to get hands-on experience. And, unlike the base turnout operation during the 2004 presidential campaign, this one was much more focused on driving independents leaning toward Chafee to the polls -- a necessity given the suspicion with which the incumbent was viewed by conservative Republicans.

It worked. With nearly all of the precincts in the state reporting, more votes have been cast in the Chafee-Laffey race than in any other statewide Republican primary in the state's history. The ability of national Republicans to identify and turn out like-minded voters should give those predicting a massive Democratic wave this fall at least some pause. Midterm elections are typically low turnout affairs, and the party best able to motivate its base voters usually wins.

While the RNC turnout operation deserves major kudos, Laffey committed a number of costly errors in the final weeks of the campaign. The most glaring was his decision not to run a single comparative or negative ad against Chafee in the campaign's final two months. Chafee, meanwhile, banged away at Laffey on television -- likely giving undecided voters pause about firing the incumbent.

Chafee's win improves -- but by no means assures -- Republicans' chances of hold this seat in the fall. Former state Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse (D) is well-financed and well-known to Rhode Island voters. As of press time, he has also received more votes than Chafee and Laffey combined despite having a non-competitive primary race.

Make sure to check The Fix tomorrow for a more detailed analysis on the winners and losers from tonight's voting.

-- Chris Cillizza

By Editors  |  September 12, 2006; 11:07 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Next: Primary Recap: A Look at the Winners and Losers


Why in the world are you all going up river against the current? With high gas prices and all, you could literally go down river in a fraction of the cost. This is especially true now with the heavy rains that occur in the fall.

Posted by: Eric Shull | September 20, 2006 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I've mentioned this before. Dean's strategy would appear to be more long term. By that I mean, having Democrats in control at the state level when the 2010 census re-districting takes place. That "pays off" for a decade; unless the DeLay coup in Texas spreads nationwide.

Emmanuel is right. Dean is right. It just depends on whether your focus is long term or short term.

Posted by: Nor'Easter | September 13, 2006 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Anyone see the latest ad trumpeting Senator Macaca's vote against body armor for our troops in Iraq?

Here's a link:

Bye Macaca, don't let the door hit you on your way out!

Posted by: vienna local | September 13, 2006 5:52 PM | Report abuse

JimD - It not a head-to-head matchup, but there's another classic Rhode Island political name on the other side of the ballot. Elizabeth Roberts. She running for Lt. Governor. It'll be interesting to see how the native Virginian does. She married into the right family for making it as a politician in the state.

I guess fair is fair, Rep. Joe Fisher (VA's 10th Cong. Dist and Virginia Secretary of Human Resources) was from Pawtucket.

Posted by: Nor'Easter | September 13, 2006 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Thanks JimD, and yes, I agree that if Dean fails to win at least ONE of the Houses, he will be shown as a failure in strategy. Rahm Emaneul was one of the brilliant strategy leaders who came into the Clinton White House back in 1992, and is the only person from the Clinton years who ran for office and got elected on his own, without the shadow of Bill Clinton. (Reno lost her primary bid for governor in Florida, Robert Reich lost his primary bid to win as governor of Mass. and Andrew Cuomo lost whatever it was he ran for years ago)

If Dean gets dumped, hire James Carville.

Posted by: Tina | September 13, 2006 5:45 PM | Report abuse

drindl -

I agree that the Dems should build state by state organizations. However, the priority in '06 ought to be on winning the House. The Dems should win the House as things stand now. Should they not because resources were too thinly spread, then Dean should be sacked. The Senate is more problematic.

Nor'easter - although I moved away over 30 years ago, I grew up in the Northeast (RI) and went to college in Boston. So, I saw a lot of that history playing out.

Posted by: JimD in FL | September 13, 2006 4:31 PM | Report abuse

The way I see it, Rhode Islanders just plain LIKE Linc Chafee, and will probably vote narrowly to keep him in the Senate. So, unhappily, I have to believe that RI is now no longer a great shot for a Dem pickup. That leaves 1. PA, 2) Montana, 3) Ohio as very likely to flip to the Dems. Ithink Talent will hold on, and I think Allen will also hold on for Repubs. I think Cantwell is way ahead in Wash, and Stabenow is somewhat ahead in Michigan. That leaves NJ, where I am truly disturbed that wimpy young Keane appears to be ahead of Menendez (possible Repb pickup) and Great News, Tennessee, where, miraculously, Ford is running a great campaign, and is proving to be a formidable campaigner. These last two offset each other, so I am calling for a dem pickup of 3. One possible wild card-- Holy Joe Lieberman may yet decide to caucus with his repub buddies, meaning that the net Dem pickup would only be 2.

Posted by: rmars | September 13, 2006 4:30 PM | Report abuse

JimD: for a minute there I thought you had lost it. A previos post of mine on the other site pretty well sums it up for me about the Va. race I posted about on this blog yesterday. Looking better for a pickup of the Senate as well as the House.

Posted by: lylepink | September 13, 2006 3:01 PM | Report abuse

JimD: for a minute there I thought you had lost it. A previos post of mine on the other site pretty well sums it up for me about the Va. race I posted about on this blog yesterday. Looking better for a pickup of the Senate as well as the House.

Posted by: lylepink | September 13, 2006 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Brian - Stop being fixated on the colors on the maps. RI ranks 43rd in population just behind Hawaii. Wyoming looks great with a lot of red on the map, but it ranks 51st, with even fewer people than the District of Columbia. If you want to get a sense of how the country votes from maps, you need the reds and blues down to the county, or even precinct level weighted for population. The simple reds and blues by state are a highly distorted picture of the reality.

LSterling - Right on target, "Exit polls are notoriously unreliable in Rhode Island. Everybody lies. Moreover, they don't lie to necessarily deceive, they lie to (silently) tell the pollsters that it's none of their damned business how they voted..."

And, all of you who are extrapolating to November from the Rhode Island Republican/Democrat vote counts; forget it.

The General Election is a completely new ballgame. Linc Chaffee's base is not the Republican base; it is Independents, Republicans and Democrats, in that order. Yesterday's numbers are relevant only to yesterday's primary.

My take on yesterday in RI is nothing more than a lot of people like Linc Chaffee. Now he and Sheldon Whitehouse have to convince Rhode Island voters on the old Kennedy slogan, that they "Can Do More!" for the state. I do see Linc starting with a bit of a disadvantage because of the indirect baggage he carries from all the highly visible support he received the National Republican Party. There has to be some residual effect there.

JimD, thanks for the capsule history of the Republicans and the Northeast.

Posted by: Nor'Easter | September 13, 2006 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Just found this -- brilliant ad for Webb. Good team. This is what we have to do -- hit back against their lies -- and hit them hard!

'VA-SEN: Blistering New Ad Hammers Allen Over Body Armor Vote ---By Greg Sargent
An independent group called Vote Vets -- which describes itself as a PAC for electing candidates "critical of the execution of the war in Iraq" to Congress -- has just unleashed a powerful new TV ad slamming GOP incumbent Senator George Allen over what it claims is a recent vote of his against funding body armor for troops in Iraq. The ad, which a group spokesman claims will run in major markets through Sunday, features a soldier back from Iraq named Pete Granato. "Senator George Allen voted against giving our troops this," Granato says, holding modern body armor up to the camera. "Now it's time for us to vote against him." If you want to see someone really going on offense against the GOP on national security, be sure not to miss this ad.'

Posted by: drindl | September 13, 2006 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I don't, necessarily, JimD. The 50 state strategy is the only chance to have the kind of GOTV operation that we need to win back the presidency in '08. That's the bottom line -- we have to get a Dem in then. Four more years of republicanrule and there won't be any USA left.

Posted by: drndl | September 13, 2006 12:54 PM | Report abuse


In an earlier post I said "I agree the Dems should fire Howard Dean if they do not pick up at least one seat". I meant if they do not pick up at least one house of Congress.

Posted by: JimD in FL | September 13, 2006 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Thousands of plant species are being pushed to the brink of extinction by global warming, and those already at the extremes are in the greatest danger, a leading botanist said on Tuesday.
Paul Smith, head of Britain's Millennium Seed Bank, said the drylands of the world which cover 40 percent of the earth's surface and are home to more than one-third of the population faced the bleakest future.

Smith's team is on target to have sorted and stored seeds from 10 percent of the world's plant species by 2010 in a race against time as global temperatures rise due to burning fossil fuels for transport and power.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 13, 2006 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Bhoomes, McGavick is not going to win in Washington now. The latest Rasmussen poll showed him sinking back to nearly 20 points behind Cantwell. Steele is way too extreme for Maryland and it would take a miracle for Santorum to pull it off in Penn., even Kerry carried Penn. The one seat that the GOP has a shot at is New Jersey.

Posted by: Deek | September 13, 2006 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Exit polls are notoriously unreliable in Rhode Island. Everybody lies. Moreover, they don't lie to necessarily deceive, they lie to (silently) tell the pollsters that it's none of their damned business how they voted, but are too polite to say so. They also don't want anyone else (in the media or neighborhood)to know how they voted. Exit polls would therefore not substantiate the vote count. Rhode Island has a computer counted ballot that is extremely difficult to tamper. No hanging chads here.... I think that Harries can be satisfied that the outcome reflected the reality of the vote.

Posted by: L.Sterling | September 13, 2006 12:04 PM | Report abuse

"As I suspected, things are starting to shape us nicely for us this November. I believe there is a good chance we will gain three seats in the Senate, that being Wa.,NJ and maybe Maryland. Will lose Montana but should be it."

I hope all other Republicans are as naive as you are, especially with Cantwell leading in Washington by 17 (you have a far better shot in Michigan, but that's not saying much in this case because you're still down by eight there). For Dems, NJ is vulnerable, but they stand to pick up PA (The "Santorum Surging" meme neglects that Santorum's support isn't increasing, he's still got a ceiling somewhere between 43-45% that I don't see him breaking, most undecideds will likely break for the challenger), MT, RI (as I said before, Chafee is more vulnerable now than he would have been otherwise and many polls give Whitehouse a narrow lead), and maybe OH and MO, but I'm not liking those odds, a net increase of 3 is my guess in the Senate and 12 in the House, short of control of either house but more than enough to cause a whole lot of headaches for Repubs for the next 2 years.

Posted by: Michael | September 13, 2006 11:58 AM | Report abuse

In view of the now documented devotion of the Republicans to election fraud in Ohio, Florida, and elsewhere in 2004, I am highly suspicious of any Republican victory unless there is a verifiable paper trail to confirm any victory such as Chafee's. In this case, the victory went to Chafee, the Republican's favorite. Were there exit polls to confirm the validity of this victory?

Please tell me that there is a verifiable paper trail to confirm Chafee's election. This threat dare not be taken lightly or dismissed. The evidence for past fraud is compelling.

Posted by: Thomas Harries | September 13, 2006 11:51 AM | Report abuse

RE; the Weldon race - his opponent is retired Vice-Admiral Joe Sestak - a critic of the Iraq war who was a major naval commander in both the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters. Sestak criticizes Iraq as a diversion from the war on terror. Weldon will have a hard time painting Sestak as weak on national security. I knew Sestak slightly in the mid 80's and he is a brilliant guy.

Posted by: JimD in FL | September 13, 2006 10:51 AM | Report abuse

'Any other time one would expect Republican lawmaker Curt Weldon to be an unwavering supporter of President George W. Bush 's Iraq policy. After all, just this summer the Pennsylvania congressman was saying the jury remains out on whether Iraq still holds weapons of mass destruction.

But Weldon, vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is desperate to hold onto his seat in the Philadelphia suburbs. He is sounding more like a Democrat - and the increasing number of dissident Republicans who are talking about a timetable for bringing the troops home.

The 10-term incumbent is preparing this week to file a nonbinding resolution that says a milestone-based approach with criteria determined by military officers should be used by Bush to determine when troops should be withdrawn from Iraq.' '

Posted by: Anonymous | September 13, 2006 10:43 AM | Report abuse

zathras -- a very obvious point. You are right that after November, either Dean or Mehlman will likely be unemployed.

Knowing how much money the repugs have, and how it's all going to be used for 'the politics of personal destruction' I just don't know how I'm going to stomach the next two months. You can drown in that much sewage.

Posted by: drindl | September 13, 2006 10:38 AM | Report abuse


I agree that the Dems should fire Howard Dean if they do not pick up at least one seat. I am not a Howard Dean fan, but I do tend to think that the Dems do need to build strong organizations in each state. However, Emmanuel is right that the priority for this year ought to be on winnable Congressional races.

Re: RI - I do not believe that Democrats could vote in the Republican primary but that independents could vote in either primary. The number of people who would vote strategically in the opposition primary is very small.

I would also not attribute Chafee's victory totally to the National Republicans. The Chafee name means something in RI - I know I grew up there when John Chafee was governor. However, Lincoln is not his dad and RI is one of the bluest states in the union. Laffey's brand of conservatism is a very hard sell in RI. Whitehouse is popular, well-funded and will use the national Republican support of Chafee to attack him in the general.

Posted by: JimD in FL | September 13, 2006 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I think Tina actually as a good point. If the Dem's fail to pick up both the House and the Senate this year, there will likely be huge pressure on Dean to resign, since the expectations are so high for Dems this cycle.

On the other hand, if the Republicans lose both houses, Mehlman will find himself on the curb very quickly. This might happen even if the Dems pick up 1 house, since Mehlman is putting out all the stops for this election, to the point of endangering the Republicans' funding for 2008.

Posted by: Zathras | September 13, 2006 10:27 AM | Report abuse

The big loser in Rhode island is the Repulican govenor who is up for reelection. The fact that Chaffee won because the National GOP brought out the independents and democrats to BEAT their base is a troubling sign. I don't know if Whitehorse will win, but he is up in the polls. AND now the GOP guys are gonna stay home, period. The GOP needs to spend 30 mil on voter turnout cause their voters are down and don't want to vote.
The DNC on the other hand has one of the most motivated bases in Political history right now, and Dean's grassroots support means that there are alot of folks on the ground to get out the vote.

My estimate is that Rhode Island drops to four on the list on friday.

Also whoever said that Rhode Island doesn't count because it is the smallest state. It's Population is higher then a few western states like Montana, the Dakotas and Wyoming.

Posted by: Andy R | September 13, 2006 10:27 AM | Report abuse

'I wonder if was happy Lieberman lost? The Democrats are so messed up they can't figure out which person is their leader. Is it Howard Dean or John Kerry? Is it Nancy Pelosi or Hillary?'

Tina-- is this what passes for thinking with you? I guess I just don't understand. We Dems don't need a single 'leader' to tell us what to think. I guess we'r just not sheep like you are. We have lots of different opinions and beliefs. Unfortunately, that is our problem. .. the fact that authoritarianism is often stronger than individualism is why the authoritarian strain of the republican party is so dangerous to democracy.

Posted by: drindl | September 13, 2006 10:24 AM | Report abuse

sorry typo. I forgot to put "conservative" before "person" in the third line

I guess I didn't have the benefit of the President's 'No Child left untested' initiative.

Posted by: zippy | September 13, 2006 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Worse thing that could have happened to the Democrats.

Like I said yesterday, the dems should have been out in force, registered as Republicans and voted for the person.

The best way to deal with this administration is to give them everything they ask for, so after a few initiatives, the electorate can see how hollow the president's and Congress's policies really are.

With Chafee winning, as a nominal sometimes opponent of the president, he will just hand in there, get re-elected and be available in the future to get intimidated and muscled by the conservatives when the administration is desperate.

Posted by: zippy | September 13, 2006 10:18 AM | Report abuse made a comment that he voted for Laffy to help Whitehouse win the Senate seat. At least this person admitted why it. This is a reason why political people are trying to pass a law in Michigan that you have to be a registered Republican to vote in the 2008 primary. This would make it more difficult for troublemaker voters to sabotage an election.

I wonder if was happy Lieberman lost? The Democrats are so messed up they can't figure out which person is their leader. Is it Howard Dean or John Kerry? Is it Nancy Pelosi or Hillary?

If the National Republicans were able to save Chaffee, it might be a lesson that organized efforts have a chance of succeeding in keeping the majority in the House and the Senate. If the Democrats would spend half as much time fixing their own problems instead of pointing fingers at Republicans, they might have a chance at picking up the House.

The next 50 days are going to be busy. But if the money spent by the Republicans is a success, then it proves Rahm Emanuel is correct in pointing out Howard Dean failed to invest in winnable candiates instead of spreading the millions to 50 states. We shall see what the results are in November. If Howard Dean fails to pick up either the House or the Senate, he will be exposed as a total failure. Am I wrong?

Posted by: Tina | September 13, 2006 10:13 AM | Report abuse

News from Ohio [wonder how Blackwell's doing in the polls--still sinking?]

'Tom Noe, the GOP fund-raiser at the heart of Ohio's biggest political scandal in a generation, was sentenced today to 27 months in a federal prison for illegally funneling money into President Bush's re-election campaign.

U.S. District Court Judge David Katz also ordered Noe to pay $136,200 in fines for sending more than $45,000 into a 2003 Bush fund-raiser by using two dozen friends and associates -- including several current and former local Republican elected officials -- in violation of federal election laws.

Noe said he arranged the scheme because "in 2003 I was pressured by Bush-Cheney officials to become a Pioneer," a name the campaign gives to people who raise $100,000.'

He was 'pressured' to give money... sounds kinda like extortion to me. Kinda mafia-like, you know?

Posted by: drindl | September 13, 2006 10:10 AM | Report abuse

You'e even more delusional than usual bhoomes. Yesterday, nearly every winger pundit came out with article wringing their hands and weeping about how we are losing the war, calling for 2 or 3 times more troops -- which we don't have and which we have no ability to get.

I'll give you links if you want -- Max Boot, Rich Lowry, William Buckley and more. Especially ironic it was considering that a year ago, the Weekly Standard has a cover alleging, 'We are winning the war'. Your inompetent president and sec def pretty much guaranteed the meltdown that's happening in Iraq now.

Posted by: drindl | September 13, 2006 9:51 AM | Report abuse

bhoomes, there are several websites, including tradesports, where you can bet on politics. I urge you to bet heavily on your prediction that Republicans will have a net gain of two Senate seats.

After all, I'm sure you don't mind putting your money where your mouth is.

Posted by: JoshA | September 13, 2006 9:49 AM | Report abuse

It's being reported now that the RNC is emptying its bank accounts--$60 million in total--in an all-out effort to with this fall's elections.

About 1/2 of the money is to go to "get out the vote" operations, so turnout is definitely an issue worrying the Republicans.

In contrast, the DNC only has about $12 million to spend.

Posted by: Zathras | September 13, 2006 9:40 AM | Report abuse

We republicans are pragmatic enough to keep Chaffee even though we know in his heart he's more of a dem than a republican. But as long as he caucuses with us, who cares. Like I said before we have a get out the vote machine that would water yours with it efficiency. Also the dems are starting to retreat on National Security because they can't win that argument. As I suspected, things are starting to shape us nicely for us this November. I believe there is a good chance we will gain three seats in the Senate, that being Wa.,NJ and maybe Maryland. Will lose Montana but should be it.

Posted by: bhoomes | September 13, 2006 9:37 AM | Report abuse

In most other states, Linc Chaffee would be a Democrat. In the Northeast, there once was a long tradition of liberal Republicans. Remember that the Republicans were founded as a liberal party. They were the reformers, the "good government" types. Largely, this was a response to the Democratic urban political machines. Originally, this had its roots in class and ethnic conflict. The ethnic, mostly Catholic immigrants gravitated to the large cities and the Democratic political machines. The WASP establishment was Republican. As Democratic machines gained control of the cities, the Republicans were often still in control of the state legislatures (before one-man, one-vote). The urban political machines were corrupt. A lot of the conflict in the 1910 - 1960 period between Republicans and Democrats in the Northeast was over "good government" issues - basically meaning curbing the power of urban political machines to dispense favors to their friends. The New Deal undercut the power of the urban machines by providing a social safety net. The machines steadily declined in power from 1933 into the early 60's by which time most had ceased to exist in their traditional form (always excepting Chicago). The major political re-alignment brought about by FDR brought a lot of the liberal Republicans into the Democratic party. But in Northeastern states where the machines still held considerable sway even in decline, the tradition of liberal Republicans continued. Nixon's "Southern Strategy" specifically targeted white Southern Democrats who resented the civil rights gains made by African Americans. This along with the rise of Goldwater-Reagan Republicanism, shifted the center of gravity in the GOP from the Midwest and Northeast to the Sun Belt. Correspondingly many liberal Republicans left the GOP and became independents or Democrats. New England has retained the liberal to moderate Republican tradition, albeit in a much weakened state. Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, although considerably to the right of Chaffee, are from this tradition also.

Posted by: JimD in FL | September 13, 2006 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I know this is OT but I had to post it because I thought it was so startling:

'Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before they are used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday.

Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions in the international community over any possible safety concerns, said Secretary Michael Wynne.

''If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation,'' said Wynne. ''(Because) if I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press.''

The weapons are supposed to cause 'intolerable pain' for 5 seconds -- unless you can't get away that fast.

'The ADS fires a 95-gigahertz microwave beam, which is supposed to heat skin and to cause pain but no physical damage (New Scientist, 27 October 2001, p 26).

People's reflex responses to the pain is expected to force them to move out of the beam before their skin can be burnt.'

---And who will this be used on, I wonder? People demonstrating because they were not allowed to vote? I just have to say, I never thought that in America, my own government would want to use military weapons on it's own people.

Posted by: drindl | September 13, 2006 9:15 AM | Report abuse

It's not just that "conservative" repubs boosted the Laffey campaign, there were a lot of conservative Dems and Independents that supported him as well. It was sleazier at the end than it should have been, but Sheldon W. is no shoo in for November. He got tripped up by a feminazi during his last state wide campaign, and will not do as well as anticipated with the moderates,and conservatives of both parties. (Plus he speaks like Sylvester the Cat). The Dems will have to work to get this one, and it will not be easy. The only saving grace that he make capitalilze upon is the national push to get the Senate out of the hands of the Know Nothings and into Democratic check-mate for future Bushie misadventures.

Posted by: L. Sterling | September 13, 2006 8:59 AM | Report abuse

...maybe that is because there are far more Democratic voters in RI

Posted by: he ( Whitehouse) has also received more votes than Chafee and Laffey combined despite having a non-c | September 13, 2006 8:58 AM | Report abuse

When it comes down to it, RI is another Win-Win race for the Dems. Chalk it up there with Lamont/Lieberman, Clinton/Tasini (who received well over 100k votes on almost no budget), Webb/Allen, etc....

Posted by: F&B | September 13, 2006 8:57 AM | Report abuse

With you, Irish... I'm volunteering to poll watch, to provides rides, to call and remind, everything I can to get out the vote. We still have the old lever machines here and are fighting to keep them or go to paper--the big fear is that our state party won't fight hard enough to resist the DRE's. The lobbyists keep shoving this 'handicap access' red herring at them...

From andrew Sullivan:

"As long as the War Crimes Act hangs over their heads, they [interrogators] will not take the steps necessary to protect [Americans]," - president Bush at an on-the-record briefing with Kate O'Beirne and Rich Lowry (tough crowd).

Well, one way to get the war crimes act from over their heads is to instruct them not to commit war-crimes. But that doesn't seem to have occurred to the president.

--And I have to add, it's one of those surreal moments when you realize just how radical these people are -- how much this country has changed -- that so-called conservatives and the president of the United States are arguing for the right to commit war crimes.

Posted by: drindl | September 13, 2006 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Thing that still worries me is the fact that there was a record turnout for a GOP primary..The gop knows how to turn the key and get there folks to the polls..I sure hope the majority of dems figure out that sitting behind a computer screen blogging how much things suck in this country ain't gonna change things..We actually have to get off our arse's and go vote come November...

Posted by: TheIrishCurse | September 13, 2006 8:44 AM | Report abuse

I do hope CC will get the results that he has had on the fix so many times and post it for discussion. Trying to get results has been very disappointing for me. Now I'm waiting for Hank Williams Jr. to perform live on TV.

Posted by: lylepink | September 13, 2006 7:48 AM | Report abuse

This contest never moved me much. Chafee is such a mild-mannered guy who's so moderate he's further to the left than a lot of Dems. That's one of the things I like best about the Northeast. It would have been scary if Laffey had won in a state like Rhode Island, so overall, it cost the repugs a lot to get not very much.

Posted by: drindl | September 13, 2006 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Course, the problem now is that Chafee has demonized his opponent for whom a sizable fraction of the R electorate voted. He now has to overcome all of the hard feelings those ads generated. Look for a lot of Chafee-Laffey photo-ops involving warm handshakes and big smiles. And that still might not be enough to keep R voters from staying home in droves in November.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | September 13, 2006 6:46 AM | Report abuse

Whitehouse getting more votes than the 2 Repubs combined in a virtually uncontested Dem primary? Sounds pretty impressive.

Posted by: mike | September 13, 2006 1:44 AM | Report abuse

didn't the Demo's get about twice the number of voters turn out- shouldn't that cause concern for republicans

Posted by: bill from Australia | September 13, 2006 1:34 AM | Report abuse

I think the Chafee win is actually better for Dems nationally given the noatonal Repulican push for Chafee to win and the statements beforehand that the republicans would essentially concede RI if Chafee lost. This way, they have to invest a lot of money to try to keep Rhode Island, meanwhile it is easier for Dems to nationalize the election and paint Chafee as much closer to Bush/Rove than they would have otherwise. It's not a freebie for Dems as it would have been otherwise, but is still very winnable and I think it will cost the Republicans more than it will the Dems to win.

Posted by: Michael | September 13, 2006 1:14 AM | Report abuse

Just have to hope that no one votes for John Chafee, given that he's been dead for 7 years.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | September 13, 2006 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Doesn't sound like Case has much of a chance against Akaka.

Some of us don't drink beer.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | September 13, 2006 12:40 AM | Report abuse

I went out of my way today to vote for Steve Laffey so that Sheldon Whitehouse would have an easy time in the general. Oh well.

Still, an incumbent Senator who spent more money than his challenger, who is far more recognizable, and who ran negative attack ads for months when his opponent would not, only wins his primary by single digits.

This is a very blue state with an electorate that is very angry at any and all Republicans. Sheldon Whitehouse will bury Chafee in the general.

Posted by: | September 13, 2006 12:40 AM | Report abuse

Just have to hope that Rhode Island Democrats understand that a vote for John Chafee empowers extremists like Tom Coburn and Conrad Burns.

Posted by: Intrepid Liberal Journal | September 13, 2006 12:39 AM | Report abuse

Chris, I can tell you're celebrating like I am. Hoist a beer, buddy. The R's may win in the fall yet! Keep up the excellent work.

Posted by: Keith | September 13, 2006 12:11 AM | Report abuse

I just admire Chafee for bucking the system, then forcing the system to support him. Admit it, the man has guts.

BTW, why is NO ONE in national media paying attention to the Hawaii Democratic Primary? Daniel Akaka may get the boot from his own party, and I haven't seen a single article about it anywhere outside the "Honolulu Advertiser." Even if the Dems are going to win the seat no matter what, it's worth watching.

Posted by: panurge | September 13, 2006 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Isn't it inappropriate to use Rhode Island, a state that is smaller than many counties in other states, as a barometer for national voting trends?

It seems an isolated contest in the smallest state in the nation is no better a predictor than the 50th district in California or the state of Connecticut.

The races are close -- everywhere. It's going be Nov. 8, or 9th, before we know who is in control of Congress.

Everyone should just relax, enjoy the fall weather and drink some beer.

Posted by: Brian Basinger | September 12, 2006 11:41 PM | Report abuse

(Posted by: robert chapman | September 12, 2006 11:08 PM)
"Maybe, just maybe, Chafee's victory is a sign the GOP is coming out of its thrall to conservative orthodoxy"

I doubt it. Moderate Republican has essentially become an oxymoron in Congress. That said, today's Republican party is more concerned about winning, than issues. Let's cut to the chase. Why would they support a centrist who tends to oppose the White House's rightwing policies? Quite simply, a conservative Republican doesn't fare well in progressive New England. If you're running for Senator, conventional wisdom says that you must appeal to conservatives, centrists, and liberals. The exception would be several "Red States" which tend to lean to the extreme right.

Posted by: Dr. Don Key | September 12, 2006 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Rogue's Island, as Rhode Island was known in revolutionary times, has always had a peculiar political climate.

But even though it is Rhode Island, seeing an anti-war, socially liberal, fiscal moderate win a GOP nomination in a contest with a conservative is reassuring.

Maybe, just maybe, Chafee's victory is a sign the GOP is coming out of its thrall to conservative orthodoxy and will to reassert itself as a political choice for real Americans living in the real world.

Posted by: robert chapman | September 12, 2006 11:08 PM | Report abuse

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