EXCLUSIVE: First Female GOP Candidate Eyes Major Office

Thursday, June 24, 2010


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Catherine Taylor, a long-time staffer for John and Lincoln Chafee who has criticized the GOP for excluding moderates, told GoLocalProv today that she is considering running as a Republican for Secretary of State.

“I am considering it,” Taylor said. “I still have a few things to put together before it becomes a reality.”

Taylor was an aide and speechwriter for Senators John and Lincoln Chafee for nearly two decades, with a short stint in between as a speechwriter for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. She worked for Senator Lincoln Chafee until 2006 and now owns a public affairs firm, Lang Taylor, which recently changed its name to Taylorwordworks. (Click here to read more about her background.)

If she does in fact enter the race, she would be the first Republican woman to run for statewide office in Rhode Island this year and only the fourth woman from any part. Other female candidates are Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts, a Democrat who is running for re-election, Moderate Party candidate for lieutentant governor Jean Ann Guliano, and Democratic General Treasurer candidate Gina Raimondo.

Like Lincoln Chafee, Taylor has warned that moderate Republicans do not always feel welcome in the GOP. Most recently, in a GoLocalProv column she asked, “Who Wants to Go Back into the Big Tent?”

“[T]hese days, many of the old Chafee Republicans inhabit a virtual tent city for the politically homeless,” Taylor wrote. “Some feel pushed out of the party, and others have run screaming away, alienated by the extreme social agenda and the name-calling.”

But now, Taylor, for one, wants to be back in the Big Tent.

Taylor said she was running as a Republican because she believed the GOP could still be a place for moderates in Rhode Island. “I think that our state is in need of a robust party system for government to function the way it should for all of us,” Taylor said. “For that to be the case, the Republican Party needs to be a big tent.”

"The Republican Party has nationally moved away from us and now I think it's time for us in Rhode Island to get it back," Taylor added.

Lincoln Chafee, on the other hand, has left the GOP and is running as an independent for governor. Taylor said she and Lincoln Chafee were still believers in the same moderate brand of Republicanism that his father, John Chafee, personified—even if they are running under different party banners.

“All of us are coming out in different places as we think through where we belong,” Taylor said.

CLARIFICATION: In stating that Taylor is the first female GOP candidate to consider statewide office, GoLocalProv was referring to the current election cycle, not every election in the history of the state.


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