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Rhode Island Republicans Looking To State Elections This Year

This story was written by Shara Azad, Brown Daily Herald

As the presidential election draws near, the College Republican Federation of Rhode Island and the Brown Republicans are focusing on local politics.

The federation, a conglomeration of Republicans from the state's colleges and universities, has been "working hard in Rhode Island to get Rhode Island Republican candidates elected" to local offices, Brendan Boyle, chairman of CRFRI wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.

"A number of our members serve as campaign staffers for Rhode Island candidates," he said.

But the group has not been canvassing locally for Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain because it believes its efforts will prove futile, Boyle wrote.

"Senator McCain is not going to win in Rhode Island," he wrote. But he added that the group is campaigning in the battleground state of New Hampshire.

"We bring our members and our volunteers up to New Hampshire, where our hard work can reap some benefit," Boyle said.

"We have actually spent time canvassing in New Hampshire for McCain," Ryan Bilodeau, former chairman of the Federation wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.

Bilodeau, a senior at the University of Rhode Island, told The Herald in an e-mail that the group's efforts might make an important difference in a tight election. "It's a bad year for Republicans, but McCain's independence streak and Obama's lack of experience may allow McCain to pull it off," Bilodeau wrote.

Sean Quigley '10, president of the Brown Republicans and Herald opinions columnist, said the lack of a mass effort in campaigning for McCain by Rhode Islanders might have something to do with the candidate himself.

"McCain is a good, neutral candidate," Quigley said. "But (former governor of Massachusetts Mitt) Romney had a pretty good infrastructure, and that doesn't exactly translate after (he lost)."

McCain won the Rhode Island Republican primary in March, capturing 65 percent of the votes to Romney's 4 percent. Quigley said he was the only Brown student canvassing for McCain in January.

Quigley also attributed the relative inactivity of Brown's Republicans in the presidential campaign to the group's small size. Since both Brown and Rhode Island are left-leaning, the Brown Republicans - with 15 active members - is a fairly small organization that does not have enough manpower to organize large groups to canvass or phone bank, he said.

But in spite of its size the group has not been entirely dormant. Quigley said it has helped broadcast the presidential debates, including the third and final one between the candidates last night. The Republicans are also bringing conservative activist David Horowitz to campus today and have participated in walks and fundraisers for candidates in Senate races.