East Greenwich’s Cienki in the Race for State GOP Chair


Suzanne Cienki, the East Greenwich Town Council president whose local leadership had the town’s government in the headlines for a year, has announced her candidacy to be chairwoman of the state Republican Party:

“The State of Rhode Island is run by the Democratic Party,” Cienki said in letter to GOP Central Committee members. “Unfortunately, this one-party system is the same as a no-party system. The balancing of ideas and checks and balances by opposing parties is vital to a democratic society. The RIGOP needs to clearly identify a platform and educate voters in Rhode Island as to how Republicans will do things differently.” …

“I have the leadership skills, time and energy to devote to the position of chair,” Cienki wrote in her letter to party faithful. “I am not afraid of a challenge and willing to speak out on behalf of taxpayers on many important issues. The state party’s main goals should have a clearly identifiable message, focus on fundraising efforts, and recruit candidates to run for statewide offices.”

Please consider a voluntary, tax-deductible subscription to keep the Current growing and free.

Amid the behind-the-scenes chatter, I’ve heard it said that Cienki would be a bad choice because she led her council into a rout by the local Democrats, but Republicans should be wary of that argument.  The idea that somebody with the gumption to take on Rhode Island’s established interests should be penalized because she has had to learn from her experience is antithetical to an active movement that can advance a cause.

The way to gain advantage over time is to experiment, take risks, and then learn from the results, both good and bad.  Rather than writing off anybody who has a bad result, a movement that reassesses based on that experience and renews the charge will make progress.  And if the people who made the mistakes are willing to do the same, they’re particularly well suited to guide the change, at the same time that their participation makes it more likely that the opposition will learn the wrong lessons.


Featured image: Screen grab from Christa Coviello Thompson’s Facebook Live video of a chaotic East Greenwich Town Council meeting.

  • Phil Hirons Jr

    Taking on the entrenched interests as an elected official or candidate is not the same as leading as political party at the state level. The chair of the RIGOP has to know the details of running a party and represent the state at the RNC.

  • Joe Smith

    The idea that somebody with the gumption to take on Rhode Island’s established interests should be penalized because she has had to learn from her experience is antithetical to an active movement that can advance a cause.

    Well, there is innovative risk taking and then there is stupid risk taking. The former has more upside than dowside; the latter obviously the reverse.

    She not only was a key figure in the reversal of GOP control at the town level, but those actions arguably contributed to the loss of multiple GA seats that should have been among the more solid GOP given the democractic opponents were progressives and a poor showing by the statewide GOP candidates in an area that again should be a stronghold.

    Let’s see – brought in a town manager with baggage in a highly questionable manner (both ethically and legally) who then proceeded to alienate even moderate and GOP supporters and took on the “established interests” in a way that blew up (unlike say the neighboring town who I think has done things like changed their firefighter schedule and outsourced formerly union run custodial system in the schools that have stood court challenges).

    She hired this person to a contract way out of line with “market” salaries for town manager and did not do her homework on claims made her hire that were was contradicted by the respected former GOP town council chair.

    Plus, she’s tied to a failed statewide candidate. The state GOP needs party leaders not beholden nor too connected to potential candidates.

  • Max

    The first question should be where is the evidence that she has learned from her mistakes.

  • BasicCaruso

    lol, I can’t think of a better leader for today’s RI Republicans.