Chairman Race Infighting Stymies Rhode Island GOP

Republicans continue to struggle all over New England, but nowhere has the infighting been more prevalent — and public — than it was in Rhode Island last week.

As the Ocean State’s GOP grapples with parochial egos and systemic dysfunction, Republicans risk becoming the state’s third-tier party.

The chaos started nearly two weeks ago, during the state GOP’s chairman elections. Mark Smiley won the election by a single vote against Daniel Harrop, a former Providence mayoral candidate, according to the Providence Journal. But party leaders invalidated the election after they determined one more vote was cast than the number of registered voters for the contest.

Meanwhile, a group called Youth for the Future of the Republican Party laced into Smiley via email, accusing his advisers of “bigotry against Hispanics,” the newspaper reported. Terrence George, chairman of the College Republican Federation of Rhode Island and a Brown student, called on the national party to intervene, according to WPRO radio.

After state party officials heard testimonies on the chairman election, according to WPRO, they certified the election results anyway — and appointed Smiley chairman. Harrop withdrew his challenge of the results and indicated interest in running for mayor of Providence again.

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