Nothing has showcased the lack of unity inside the Rhode Island GOP more than the beginning of what is shaping up to be a pretty brutal gubernatorial primary.
While Mayor Allan Fung is trying to be Mayor in Cranston and balance a gubernatorial campaign, former moderate-turned Republican, Ken Block, is wasting no time chipping away at Fung's base. Block's campaign is currently focusing on targeting people listed on Fung's exploratory committee to cross sides and join the Block campaign, which makes sense considering Block is a newly minted Republican and needs to make inroads (that Fung already has) within the RI GOP.
Last week, Block confidently announced that Tony Bucci would be switching sides and then made an announcement that Michael Grossi was also a "turn coat." This exploded into a backlash in the blogosphere from both sides.
Switching sides is nothing new to Block who recently decided to abandoned what little inroads he had established when he founded the Moderate party with his 2010 gubernatorial campaign and made a bid as a Republican. It is a little new to some of the "Republican turn coats" who made a point about their loyalty and how important it is, when Brendan Doherty announced his run for Congress and many chose to "wait for Loughlin" to return for Iraq. Turns out they didn't need to because Loughlin quickly bowed out.
Now we have the same slew of "Republican operatives" but this time they are loudly switching sides. The truth of the matter is, it doesn't really matter.
In the next couple weeks, you can expect to see Block announce some new hires that may be on the Fung list and may be well known in the Republican Party but that is really where it stops.
While the two campaigns got pretty nasty with each other in local blogs and on talk radio recently they are forgetting their main mission to get Republicans elected. Political infighting over individuals that are not exactly household names for the majority of voters seems detrimental to the goal. Meanwhile, you see nothing of the sort on the Democratic side, while behind the scenes things might be bloody between Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo you would never see it from the outside. Even if there are "turn coats" the Democrats are careful to not air their party's disunity publically.
So while the divide grows on the Republican side and things get messy, many Republicans are considering a turn coat themselves in the next primary; instead of voting in a Republican primary many are considering unaffiliating and casting a ballot in the Democratic primary.
The early fighting between the Block and Fung campaigns threatens to disenfranchise Republicans who may not have the time to participate in the party structure. It might be difficult for the campaigns to see but ultimately the people pulling the strings behind the campaign have little name recognition statewide and it doesn't really matter ultimately in the election, unless the campaign is just seeking political clout among the small amount of individuals actively engaged in party politics.
In the end it will not come down to who worked for what candidate but instead it will come down to which campaign is able to get out the vote and get people to the polls on primary day.
Dee DeQuattro is the assignment desk manager and digital news coordinator for ABC6. She studied politics and communications and holds a master's degree from Providence College. Follow her on twitter @deedequattro and log on to ABC6 .com for her latest in depth coverage of politics and news.