According to Republican National Committee Co-Chairman Sharon Day, she is the first person holding her office to visit Rhode Island since 1984. She didn’t say so, but looking at party registrations in the state may have something to do with it. At a Providence meeting a few hours before a fundraiser in Barrington, Day told a small group of active Republicans that she had thought the 27% Republican score in her Florida county was bad. The latest registration statistics available from the Secretary of State’s office allow the RIGOP to claim 10% of registrations. In 2009, they were able to round up to 11%, but just barely.
Speaking to a little more than a dozen people around a large table at the University Club on Benefit St., Day reported that the RNC is optimistic about its activities at the national level. With more than $26 million in the bank and “The Book” of background research about President Obama, the RNC hopes to usher the winner of the Republican primaries into the general campaign at a run. More important than those efforts, she says, is that the party has the right message.
“Every place you go, either the financial person is a Republican or the sheriff is a Republican,” Day quipped. In ordinary times, “people care about their money and their security.” During this election cycle, though, “very few people think the country’s going in the right direction. People want somebody to tell them how we’re going to fix it. They’re looking for solutions, for answers, how you’re going to be better.” Her latest information shows that 97% of donors to the RNC gave less than $200.
The RIGOP shouldn’t expect to see much of that money, however. Day promises access to all of the tools that the national party has developed, but the RNC’s focus (as opposed to that of the National Republican Congressional Committee) is on the presidential race, and Rhode Island isn’t even on the target board for that.
As for growing the party beyond the borderline of single-digit percentages, she says, that’s a matter of work. “It starts at the State House; it starts at the municipalities. That’s how you make a difference.”
ADDENDUM (8:05 p.m.):
WRNI’s Ian Donnis writes to tell me that RNC Chairman Michael Steele visited RI in 2010, and so he did, twice.