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Arthur Schaper: The Next Prince of Providence

Friday, April 25, 2014


Cormick Lynch, Photo Courtesy of Cormick Lynch

Last week, I called out the failed (and flailing) fiscal fiascos of Providence, and crowned state rep, mayor, now Congressman “Prince David” Cicilline as the knave chiefly responsible for the royal mess.

Over the following week, I contacted the two Republicans who will challenge His Royal Highness for the First Congressional District. Can the GOP dethrone Prince David and take their state back from the brink of bankruptcy?

Let’s start with doctoral candidate Stanford Tran, a California native, just like me, but from Santa Clara (Northern California), undergrad from Stanford University, now studying medicine at Brown. First a science teacher, he switched careers because he wanted more challenge along with serving other people.

A three year resident of Rhode Island, the child of Vietnamese immigrants enjoys the proximity to all his needs. “I didn’t own a car for the first 2.5 years and biked everywhere including through 2.5 New England winters.” He did complain about the shoddy roads, and the many resulting flat ties (Cicilline paved the way? Indeed.)

On why he was running for office, Tran answered:

In medical school, I realized that people get sick because they are poor. I found out that medicine is more focused on treating the individual than about fixing systemic issues. So I am taking this message directly to the people by running for office.

Once in office, Tran plans on pursuing policies which will make health care cheaper as well as expand economic opportunities, in contrast to the federalized testing schemas which have pushed out skilled employment like carpentry and plumbing.

A recently registered Republican, Tran admitted that he was an independent until a few months ago, indicting the polarizing rhetoric of political parties, which he had long resisted because of his critical thinking skills. On the issues, Tran is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage/gay rights, pro-assault weapons ban. Calling Obamacare a “half-solution”, Tran argued that an insurance mandate was a Republican idea, yet Obamacare has made health insurance unaffordable. So why join the GOP? Party leaders were cordial, but a little later they suggested that Tran run as a Democrat or Independent. Another RINO, perhaps?

Stanford Tran, Photo Courtesy of Stanford Tran

Tran differed, citing his local appeal:

I have met with more Republicans who were not part of the party leadership, and have found support among them. This is why I am still running as a Republican without the blessing of the party leaders.

Meeting with both Republican gubernatorial candidates, Tran hopes for a local groundswell, starting with a $50 donation from someone he never knew before. But will the local support train Tran to take on GTA Cicilline?

Now, meet Cormick Lynch.

A Cranston native, raised in South Kingstown, he left home at 17, joined the Marines, and became a firefighter.

Because of an off-the-job accident, Lynch left firefighting without a pension. After studying finance at the University of Delaware, he worked for JP Morgan Chase in New York City.

He has returned to his home state because he sees great potential with starting with the state's rich history. Because of his prior working background, he commented on the Rhode Island pension reforms:

The state has been driven into the ground by those responsible [The General Assembly]. Don’t put it on the backs of the unions.

Like Stanford Tran, Lynch was a life-long registered Independent until recently. He then listed his GOP credentials: pro-life, but argued that the Republican party needs to focus on helping pregnant minors rather than outlawing abortion. He does supports gay marriage, but he also supports the Second Amendment: “I support an assault weapons ban. . .for criminals!” Fiscally conservative but socially moderate, Lynch offered that his views best represent the better direction for the Republican Party.

About Obamacare: “I also think it is here to stay, unfortunately. I think we need to focus our efforts on reforming it rather than repealing it.” He emphasized the obvious (it’s not working), then highlighted the importance of restoring the doctor-patient relationship.

Placing blame on the Democrats in Providence, including Cicilline, Lynch pointed out that the incumbent Congressman has offered twenty bills, and none of them have passed. “He has got to go.” Acknowledging that he faces an uphill fight for campaign funds, the former Marine confides: “I’m playing to win!”

Also focusing on the very little good which “Prince David” has done for his district, liberal Democrat (and former Patrick Kennedy intern) Matt Fecteau explained to me his reason for a primary challenge against a fellow (?) Democrat: “He is ineffective to get the job done.” Citing his bipartisan drive to create a National Infrastructure Bank and bring jobs back to Rhode Island, Fecteau criticized Cicilline’s incapacity to cooperate in a gridlocked Congress.

My question: why replace a Democrat with another Democrat?

Regarding the GOP candidates, Republican party leaders were not as thrilled with Tran as with Lynch. The home state advantage the Cranston native carries, along with his diverse military and entrepreneurial background, may serve him better. If he can muster enough support with party leaders and play off his own diverse background (plus a dedication to expanding health care), Tran will at least ensure an engaging primary.


Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow him on Twitter@ArthurCSchaper, reach him at [email protected], and read more atSchaper's Corner and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.


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