2005-08-04 / News

Rep. Long splits with House GOP leadership

By Donna K. Drago

Saying that he just wants the right to represent his 14,000 con-stituents without interference, Rep. Bruce Long (R-Jamestown, Middletown) is angry about the current state of being a Republican in the House of Representatives.

He has joined with five other House GOP members to ask for new office space and call for new leadership of the Republican caucus.

Long said Tuesday that the Republican leadership team of Rep. Robert Watson (R-East Greenwich, West Greenwich) and Rep. Nicholas Gorham (R-Coventry, Foster, Glocester) has been using tac-tics of public humiliation, scoldings on the House floor, and behind the scenes dealing designed to defeat bills sponsored by the dissident Republicans.

“They’re rude and disrespectful to members of both parties,” Long said, adding that the two “personalize and demonize” those representa-tives who disagree with them.

“We need new leadership,” he said.

Long said that he became the object of the GOP leaders’ ire after vot-ing on legislation regarding the Separation of Powers Act.

“I voted for a compromise bill,” Long said, “and I was yelled at on the House floor” for doing so.

On another bill that had to do with supporting the governor on the sale of Lincoln Park to the BLB investors, Long said that even though both scenarios presented to legislators “were bad for Rhode Island,” he voted on the one supported by the governor because the reduction in gambling revenue that would result from the deal would offer a reason to vote against a casino bill if one came to be heard.

These votes not supported by the Republican leaders led to their attempt to kill a bill he introduced that would benefit Middletown by putting an extra alternate member on the zoning board, Long said.

“Watson went to the speaker and asked him to kill the bill,” Long said, noting that the speaker did not. “Then he rounded up Democratic support to vote it down,” Long said.

“They said this is your punishment,” Long said about the action against his bill. “They wanted to send me a message,” he added.

“Well all they did was to attack the community I represent,” Long pointed out.

Long gave several examples of other local bills, sponsored by other Republican representatives, that the GOP leaders squashed “to send a message.”

“I’ve been around for 25 years, so I know how to get things passed,” Long said about most of his bills. “But some of my colleagues went home with nothing to show” for their communities, he added.

He has been a Republican “all my adult life,” and there is about “as much chance of my changing parties as changing genders.”

“But,” he said, “it’s embarrassing to be part of this group.”

The other GOP representatives that have split from the caucus are John A. Savage of East Providence, Joseph H. Scott of Exeter, Joseph N. Amaral of Tiverton, Victor G. Moffitt of Coventry, and John J. Loughlin of Tiverton.

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