Cicione wins Carcieri's backing for RI GOP chairmanship

Giovanni Cicione, who emerged in December as a contender to succeed Patricia Morgan as chair of the Rhode Island Republican Party, has passed a key hurdle by winning the backing of Governor Donald L. Carcieri.

Cicione, a 36-year-old Barrington lawyer and GOP activist, told me this morning that he met with the governor about two weeks ago "and he's expressed his support for me running for the chairmanship." Cicione says as far as he knows, he's the first candidate to officially submit his name, and he is continuing to reach out to GOP city and town committees by sending copies of his two-page bio. "I'm not sure who else is serious [about running or] who is actively pursuing something," he said.

After meeting with Carcieri in his State House office during after-hours, "I took the conversation as direct support of my candidacy, not just that I'm running," Cicione says.

The Republican State Committee will assemble in mid-March to formally elect the new chair. "A month is a lifetime. You never know who else might put their name in," Cicione said in downplaying whether he is bound to become chairman. Still, barring the unforeseen, the governor's support means that this GOP activist has a virtual lock on the post.

In related news, House Minority Leader Robert Watson and members of the GOP caucus will hold at 1 pm news conference in the State House rotunda today to discuss their legislative agenda for 2006. While Operation Dollar Bill might give the GOP a moral edge, the party still has its work cut out.

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