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New Republican MacBeth Won’t Commit to Supporting Trump

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Party colleagues: Former D Rep. MacBeth is mum on Trump - for now.

Former Democratic State Representative Karen MacBeth announced Monday that she is switching over to the Republican party -- and is eyeing a potential run for the first Congressional District seat against Representative David Cicilline this fall -- but was non-committal as to who she will support for the Republican nominee for President of the United States.

"I haven't made any decision in the Presidential race, as I was focused on making this move. I'll make my decision on the Presidential race shortly," said MacBeth on Monday.  

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump is currently ahead in the delegate count for the nomination, however a number of factors could lead to a brokered Republican nominating convention this summer. 

See Who Supports Trump in RI HERE

MacBeth, the former chair of the House Oversight Committee who was ousted by Speaker Nicholas Mattiello following the party switch on Monday, said she'd been thinking about the jump for some time, but the truck toll debate and RhodeWorks legislation (which she opposed) cemented her decision to leave the Democratic party.

"Look, not one idea on truck tolls was perfect, but to push it through in thirteen days?  When [Mattiello] kept speaking to a 'Republican agenda' -- I didn't see it that way.  I saw it as an opportunity to bring people together and work on a solution, and that didn't happen," said MacBeth.  

While the Rhode Island Republican Party welcomed MacBeth to their ranks on Monday, the State Democratic Party had pointed words for their former colleague.

"Only nine months ago, Representative MacBeth joined her Republican colleagues in unanimously supporting the House Democratic Leadership's state budget. Now that we are in an election year, she is putting partisan politics over policy and the job she was elected to do," said RI Democratic Chairman Joseph McNamara. "She clearly has her eyes on running for Congress, where there is a vacancy on the Republican side. That is opportunism at its worst and she is putting self-service before public service. Congressman Cicilline works tirelessly for his constituents and I'm confident the voters will see through Representative MacBeth's charade and continue to support him."  

Cicilline's Seat

MacBeth said she is seriously considering running against Rep. Cicilline this cycle.

Macbeth confirmed on Monday that she is discussing a run for the first Congressional District with her family. 

Cicilline was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2010 after serving as Mayor of Providence for the previous 8 years; MacBeth, a school principal, was first elected to the Rhode Island House of Representatives in 2008.  

"Nationally, we need to make moves but when I look at some of the options that are out there, we can't afford to miss the boat," said MacBeth. "We need to promote our businesses, and make sure we're secure and safe, and I don't think those issues are being adequately addressed.  Take licenses for for illegal immigrants -- how about how you start by coming into the country by the legal means? [Licenses] are a band-aid to a much bigger problem."

Political experts parsed MacBeth's prospects at defeating Cicilline this election cycle.   

"It is always difficult to run against an incumbent, especially one whose margins have grown with each election. And it is particularly difficult to win as a Republican in District 1 as both Patrick Kennedy's and David Cicilline's opponents will tell you," said Roger Williams Professor of Politics June Speakman, who disclosed that she has given money to Cicilline in the past  "The implosion of the national Republican party is likely to make life difficult for down-ticket Republican candidates.  Still, it's been a crazy, unpredictable campaign!"

Jennifer Duffy with The Cook Political Report said that 2016 could prove to be troublesome as well. 

"It's a really steep hill in a presidential year," said Duffy. "And it doesn't matter how much money [MacBeth] has in the bank since it can't be used in a federal campaign."

What does the role of money play in a statewide race in 2016?

MacBeth currently has just over $6,700 cash on hand -- which could not be put towards a Congressional run; OpenSecrets.org has that Cicilline has just under $550,000 as of the last election cycle. 

"I'd be starting fresh, but that's OK," said MacBeth. "My opponent before the most recent election spent close to $40,000 and he had special interests behind him. I spent less than $5,000. It's time we take our politics back. Yes, fundraising will probably always be a part of it, but it shouldn't be about the rich elite getting elected."

Veteran pollster Vic Profughi said that raising money would "always be a problem" for Rhode Island Republicans. 

"Fundraising is always a problem for the GOP in Rhode Island, unless they get help from national, which she wouldn't get unless they feel they have a good shot of winning," said Profughi. "Otherwise you've very much on your own."


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