Cicione remains odds-on favorite as new GOP chair

Talking politics
By IAN DONNIS  |  February 21, 2007

Giovanni Cicione, who emerged in December as a contender to succeed Patricia Morgan as chair of the Rhode Island Republican Party, says he has not learned of any rivals since recently winning the support of Governor Donald L. Carcieri.
“It doesn’t seem like there’s going to be a competition over this,” says Cicione, a 36-year-old Barrington lawyer and GOP activist, although the deadline for declaring candidacy this Thursday, February 22, will tell for sure.
Cicione, who ran against US Representative Patrick J. Kennedy in 1996, and who has been active with the Rhode Island Young Republicans, won Carcieri’s backing — a key step — about three weeks ago. The chairman hopeful has pursued his candidacy by sending a brief bio and his ideas for building the party to GOP city and town committees.
The Republican State Committee is scheduled to meet March 15 to elect a new chair. Although Cicione had previously downplayed his chances, the governor’s support and the seeming lack of an opponent make him the presumptive favorite. Cicione says one other possible candidate, David Cote of South Kingstown, previously told him he would support him if he had Carcieri’s backing.
Cicione, a native of Ithaca, New York, moved to Cranston in 1975, and went on to graduate from George Mason University and Boston University’s law school. He interned for then-Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld and later worked for the Cato Institute. More recently, he was the GOP state counsel for legal operations during last November’s election.
Taking on the volunteer role as Republican chairman might be seen as somewhat of a thankless task in a state where GOP legislators are marginalized and the ruling General Assembly Democrats have a strong grasp on control. Yet Cicione seems more than equal to the task.
Here are some excerpts from his 10-point plan for the RI Republican Party:

• “The state party needs a leadership team — not just a leader. There is too much for any one person to do alone and without the constant and energetic support of dozens of key players we will never create the structure required to put this state on a more even keel.”
• “We need a fundraising plan and a fundraising team that work together to sustain the party.”
• “Establish system within the party for monitoring and pursuing ethics and election law violations by Democrats. These charges are too often ignored, pursued on a shoestring, or not followed through.”
• “Provide logistical support and voter ID information for all Republican candidates.”
• “Clean up the voter rolls statewide — this is long overdue and we need to be vigilant. When dead people vote, they seem to be for Democrats.”
• “Provide resources to reinvigorate city and town committee. Without active city and town committees we can’t get people excited about being Republicans.”
• “A business plan with defined goals. Quantifiable targets and a responsible leadership tasked with meeting them.”

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