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Shop Talk: Chairman Race Infighting Stymies Rhode Island GOP

Republicans continue to struggle all over New England, but nowhere has the infighting been more prevalent — and public — than it was in Rhode Island last week.

As the Ocean State’s GOP grapples with parochial egos and systemic dysfunction, Republicans risk becoming the state’s third-tier party.

The chaos started nearly two weeks ago, during the state GOP’s chairman elections. Mark Smiley won the election by a single vote against Daniel Harrop, a former Providence mayoral candidate, according to the Providence Journal. But party leaders invalidated the election after they determined one more vote was cast than the number of registered voters for the contest.

Meanwhile, a group called Youth for the Future of the Republican Party laced into Smiley via email, accusing his advisers of “bigotry against Hispanics,” the newspaper reported. Terrence George, chairman of the College Republican Federation of Rhode Island and a Brown student, called on the national party to intervene, according to WPRO radio.

After state party officials heard testimonies on the chairman election, according to WPRO, they certified the election results anyway — and appointed Smiley chairman. Harrop withdrew his challenge of the results and indicated interest in running for mayor of Providence again.

Regardless, the party’s squabbles won’t help an already struggling Ocean State GOP.

Not a single Republican occupies a seat in the congressional delegation. The last Republican in the delegation, former Sen. Lincoln Chafee, left the GOP in 2007 to become an independent and, three years later, successfully ran for governor. National Republicans made a serious attempt to win the state’s 1st District in 2012 against Rep. David Cicilline, but he won by a 10-point margin.

Purple Reign

Purple Strategies announced last week the acquisition of Democratic pollster Margie Omero’s firm, Momentum Analysis.

Omero will be managing director of Purple Insights, Purple Strategies’ research division, where she will “build its research offerings focused on socially and politically active moms,” according to a Purple Strategies press release.

Her previous work includes polling for EMILY’s List, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Mayors Against Illegal Guns. She is also a former Roll Call intern.

Alex Castellanos, Steve McMahon, Bruce Haynes and John Donovan are Purple Strategies’ founding partners.

Bridge Expansion Project

American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic opposition research super PAC, announced Monday the hiring of two new staffers: Jessica Mackler and Eddie Vale.

Mackler will be the new vice president-campaign director. She was the campaign manager for then-Rep. Shelley Berkley’s unsuccessful 2012 Senate race in Nevada.

Vale will be the new vice president-C-4 director and a senior adviser. Like Mackler, he has worked on a number of federal campaigns and for Democratic interest groups, most recently the AFL-CIO’s Workers’ Voice super PAC.

American Bridge also announced internal promotions for Steven D’Amico, Kelli Farr and Chris Harris.

Doggone It, Franken Likes Matt

Matt Burgess will manage Democratic Sen. Al Franken’s re-election in 2014, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

Burgess comes from New Hampshire, where he guided Gov. Maggie Hassan to victory in 2012. Previously, he worked at EMILY’s List and the Service Employees International Union.

Remember the Titus

Nickie Titus has signed on as digital director for Ready for Hillary PAC, the super PAC devoted to drafting former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton into the 2016 presidential race.

In 2012, Titus worked on the campaign of now-Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. She’s a veteran of the Blue State Digital, one of the most prominent Democratic online consulting shops, and EMILY’s List.

Money Flows in the River Jordan

The Democratic National Committee named Jordan Kaplan last week as its new finance director.

Kaplan started working with President Barack Obama in his 2004 Senate race. He later served as finance director for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s bid in the Windy City.

Please send news of developments in the political industry to shoptalk@rollcall.com and follow us on Twitter @RCShopTalk.

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