Two Candidates Vying to Head Rhode Island GOP

Mar 21, 2013

The Rhode Island Republican Party will select its next chairman when GOP activists gather Thursday evening in Cranston. The GOP has wrestled with turnover in the chairman’s position in recent years.

Warren businessman Mark Smiley and Providence psychiatrist Daniel Harrop are competing to be the next state party chairman. They’re running to succeed former congressional candidate Mark Zaccaria, who announced plans to step down last year.

The next chairman faces the task of rebuilding the state GOP. Republicans don’t hold any of the five top state offices, and only 11 of 113 state lawmakers are members of the GOP.

Harrop ran for mayor in Providence in 2006, and has raised money for Republican candidates. He says he would try to strengthen the grassroots of the party. “We need to have people run in fire districts, to step up to town council, to step up to General Assembly, to be viable candidates for general office.”

Smiley is a former head of a statewide group of Republican town chairs. The Warren resident is an executive with a healthcare company. He says he would emphasize legislative races. “My focus would be on the General Assembly candidates and obviously you help the gubernatorial and other statewide candidates as much as you can.”

Harrop and Smiley both cite a need to raise more money and attract more Republican candidates. In one clear difference, Harrop hopes Cranston mayor Allan Fung will be the GOP candidate for governor in 2014. Smiley prefers Brendan Doherty.

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