Former RI state police col. Brendan Doherty of Cumberland , the GOP candidate for U.S. House in the 1st District, has been moving his feet lately. Besides picking up endorsements from some Democrats, including onetime Boston Mayor Ray Flynn (a PC basketball star), former Newport State Rep. Jimmy Mahoney and former RI State Rep. Joanne Giannini of Providence’s Mount Pleasant district, Doherty has been holding meet-and-greets and fund-raisers almost every evening.
Doherty boasted a strong turnout of about 150 voters Monday evening at a fund-raising time featuring Irish music in the upstairs function room at Aidan’s Pub in the swing town of Bristol. Those attending paid $30 or $100 in campaign contributions and sipped drinks and noshed on chicken wings and pub fare. The event was sponsored by Bristol GOP stalwarts Tom Carroll and Mike Smith and Betty Anne Waters, the lawyer whose crusade to free her brother from a wrongful murder conviction led to the Hollywood movie Conviction, starring Hilary Swank playing Waters.
Bristol was won in 2010 by Democrat David Cicilline by about 500 votes over Republican John Loughlin. At the same time, Bristol voters split their tickets, giving the GOP’s John Robitaille a narrow edge over independent Lincoln Chafee, the eventual winner, in the gubernatorial race. (Cicilline’s sister lives in town). The town may be up for grabs this time around, given the enthusiasm Doherty’s campaign is generating.
“I think we have the right guy this time,’’ says Bristol Town Councilman Halsey Herreshoff, the grand old man of the Republican Party in town.
November is a long way away but Doherty is far ahead of where Loughlin was at this juncture in the 2010 cycle in terms of both money and organization. This is strictly anecdotal, but several East Bay political observers have noticed more Doherty bumper stickers on cars than Cicilline bumper strips. Bumper stickers don’t, of course, vote, but they are a way for Doherty to build name recognition. Come election night, Bristol will be a community to watch.
Before the election is the penultimate Bristol event, the July 4th parade. It will be very interesting to see which candidate gets the best reception as he walks down Hope Street and waves to the crowd.