Steven Laffey (born 1962) is a former two term mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island, and former Republican primary opponent of liberal Senator, Lincoln Chafee. Many political spectators believe that Laffey is reemerging on Rhode Island’s political scene, positioning himself for a likely governor run in 2010.
After being elected mayor in 2002 to the liberal town, Cranston, Laffey faced many hurdles. One of the biggest was his fight against waste caused by city unions. Laffey stated that other politicians were scared to deal with the unions because, “They’re not going to get reelected without the unions’ support. Me, I don’t care.”. The mayor worked to deal with the issue of overpaid city crossing guards workers; which were being paid the equivalent of $129 per hour in the city, this action led to a lot of criticism from unions and some government officials. He also used security cameras as evidence that city workers were being negligent on the job. In 2003, Laffey gave private groups permission to set up Christmas displays on city property. The ACLU attacked the mayor decision saying that it broke the “separation between church and state,” Laffey defended his position stating that state was not paying for the displays and that anyone could put them up. In the end, the city was victorious over the ACLU with a unanimous ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals. Laffey was reelected as Cranston mayor in 2004, winning 64% of the city's vote.
Senatorial Primary Race
In 2006, the conservative Laffey ran against Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee, who was known for his liberal voting record. This primary race would turn out to be a fierce battle which would pin Laffey up against some established Republican leaders including United States President, George W. Bush, Elizabeth Dole, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Many political spectators draw the comparison between Laffey’s primary race and that of United States Congressmen, Patrick Toomey, who also went against the GOP in a failed attempt at replace liberal Republican senator, Arlen Specter. Throughout Laffey’s campaign he drew support of conservative organizations like National Review and the Club For Growth, which donated half a million to Laffey’s primary race. Although conservatives supported Laffey, many Republican organization's donated large amounts of money to Chafee’s campaign, Laffey stated, "Whatever happened to Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment," referring to Reagan’s admonition never to speak ill of another Republican. After a long primary battle Laffey was unable to overcome the opposition that the National Republican Senatorial Committee brought. He lost by 8% in a primary that brought a record turnout. Laffey's opponent, Lincoln Chafey, later went on to lose the general election to Democrat, Sheldon Whitehouse.
- The Hill, Newspaper, http://www.rightangleblog.com/2006/09/13/defeat-of-laffey-was-a-defeat-for-conservatives/