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Gordon Fox Complains about State GOP (posted March 5, 2003)

Rhode Island House Majority Leader Gordon Fox has lobbed a few grenades at the state GOP. Speaking March 4th at the Taubman Center for Public Policy, Fox noted that "in the elections of 2002, the Democratic Party, on the national level, made the error of perceiving bi-partisanship -- defined by George Bush as 'my way or the highway' -- to be a desirable, indefinitely sustainable state of political affairs, and the key to our party's survival as a viable force in contemporary public affairs." He criticized the state GOP for "playacting the role of the majority party" and said "their local strategy mimics the national plan: Focus the public on a single, politically pressing, absolutely legitimate hot-button issue -- nationally it is homeland security, here in Rhode Island it is separation of powers -- and while their attention is riveted, subvert the opposition, make manifest Republican values, and seek to gain the majority. Democrats no longer will submit meekly to the Republicans' public relations offensive: We stand committed to creating and enacting meaningful separation of powers legislation before the end of the 2003 legislative session, but reject the notion, unsupported by fact or reason, that the Republican version of separation of powers is the only viable, ethical approach." Fox promised Democrats would have a separation of powers bill and would explain it to the public, but sent a strong signal that it was time for Rhode Island Democrats to fight the Republican party.

If Fox and the House leadership stick to this path, it will set up a major confrontation with new Republican Governor Don Carcieri. The chief executive has earned rave reviews for his handling of the West Warwick fire that killed 97 people, but he confronts a state legislature that is heavily dominated by Democrats. Carcieri has come out for a very strong separation of powers bill that would strength the governorship. It will be interesting to see how he responds if and when the Assembly alters his version of the separation of powers bill. Will he compromise or will he fight for his top legislative priority? What will his response mean for his future relationship with the legislature and his future support from ordinary voters? And what role will Senate President William Irons play in the saga of separation of powers?
Copyright 2000Karen Martin Media Services