Is Coaty a harbinger of GOP good fortune?

Steven J. Coaty of Middletown Newport, the latest of that rare species -- Republican legislators in Rhode Island -- is slated to be sworn into office during a ceremony in the House chamber at 5 today. The perfect timing to bury the news before New Year's, or a good send-off into the holiday weekend? Since Speaker William J. Murphy is hosting a reception afterwards, we'll say the latter.

Earlier this week, Ed Achorn conveniently overlooked Democrat Frank Ferri's special election victory in Warwick in ascribing seismic importance to Coaty's GOP triumph over former Democratic senator Clement "Bud" Cicilline. Special elections tend to be a breed apart, and Dems say that Cicilline's ground campaign was weak. Still, the way in which Ferri beat an endorsed Dem in the primary suggests a possible openness among voters to anti-establishment candidates.

Charlie Bakst wrote yesterday about the newest Republican legislator:

Coaty is a smooth talker, with a wink that may charm you, but his message has bite. He says of his district’s residents, “People were frustrated and very tired of a Democratic-dominated Assembly. They were, obviously, concerned about corruption, and they thought those two went together. And they were very, very concerned about taxes and the deficit. I mean, I heard that over and over … They communicated to me that they greatly appreciated the fact I was running … People are really anxious and eager for new blood.”

What a freshman Republican can achieve in a sea of Democrats is anyone’s guess. “The first thing I think I’m going to tell them is that the time for partisan bickering is over. I think Rhode Islanders are sick of the stalemates.”

Coaty campaigned against tax hikes and said he’d cut spending, but I reminded him last week that when specific cuts are proposed, the lobbyists and interest groups from his district will howl that reduced service will hurt people. What will he do then? “A decent society will take care of the neediest, but has to be efficient,” he said. “The days when you can say, ‘Not in my backyard,’ or ‘Don’t touch my rice bowl,’ are over. I would think everybody’s going to have to sacrifice.”

Yet even with a $450 million budget deficit, population shrinkage, and other problems, Rhode Island remains tough terrain for the GOP, and Republicans face an uphill battle in Rhode Island. So we'll have to wait to see just how well Gio Cicione and his allies do next November in storming Smith Hill.

| More

 Friends' Activity   Popular 
All Blogs
Follow the Phoenix
  • newsletter
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • youtube
  • rss
Latest Comments
Search Blogs
Not For Nothing Archives