As the Republican party debates its future, Robert Corrente, a former U.S. Attorney in Rhode Island, announced he will not run for governor next year on a third-party ticket, The Providence Journal reported.
Corrente met last month with leaders of the new Moderate Party to discuss a possible gubernatorial run. But he rejected the overtures. “I’m not going to do it,” Corrente told The Journal. “It’s certainly an interesting landscape for next year, and the whole race looks intriguing, but it’s not a good time for me, given where I am in my career.” Corrente said he needs a private sector salary to put another child through college.
President George W. Bush appointed Corrente to be Rhode Island’s top federal prosecutor in 2004. He retired earlier this year to become a partner at Burns & Levinson LLP.
Corrente’s flirtation with the Moderate Party comes as Republicans are groping and arguing their way toward a new winning formula. Conservatives who helped drive moderates out of the party over the last 15 years are demanding orthodoxy from Republican nominees. But candidates who tack too far to the right are losing, while those who stick to the center are getting elected.
Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman was defeated in a special election Tuesday to fill an upstate New York House seat after conservatives drove a more centrist Republican, Dede Scozzava, out of the race. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) rallied for the center by supporting Scozzava, while 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, a conservative standard-bearer, backed Hoffman.
But in Virginia, Republican Bob McDonnell, a conservative Christian who earned a master’s degree at televangelist Pat Robertson’s Regent University, downplayed divisive social issues like abortion and instead emphasized job-creation. McDonnell won decisively over his Democratic rival Tuesday.
Rhode Island is closely associated with the dying brand of moderate Republicanism. The late Sen. John Chaffee (R-R.I.) was a leader of a vocal group of moderate Senate Republicans in the 1990s. He was succeeded in the Senate by his son, Lincoln Chafee, who often took positions that were more liberal than some Democrats. But Chafee was defeated for reelection in 2006 by Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. Now, the Senate’s club of moderate GOPers is now down to just two: Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.
Corrente informed the Moderate Party of his decision during a private meeting Monday. “I think it’s critically important that we have a credible opposition party,” Corrente told The Journal, adding that he’s “thinking about” changing his official party affiliation to Moderate. The party’s executive director, Christine Hunsinger, last month referred to Corrente as a “recovering Republican.”
Current Gov. Don Carcieri (R) is term-limited and cannot run for re-election. Other candidates in the race for governor include state Rep. Joe Trillo (R), state treasurer Frank Caprio (D), state Attorney General Patrick Lynch (D) and ex-Sen. Lincoln Chafee, who is running as an independent.
Also of note is attorney Bob Healey Jr., who is running on the Cool Moose ticket. According to the party platform posted on Healey’s Web site, the Cool Moose party stands for “as limited a government intrusion into private life as possible.”
As a resident of Rhode Island, this is a great relief to me. I transferred to the District of Rhode Island, and away from my family, in 2003 - pre-Corrente - to set up and manage the Automated Litigation Support (ALS) Department where none existed. I did so successfully and was rewarded with a $5,000 award in 2004. One of my accomplishments was eliminating the need to outsource ALS projects. Corrente entered on duty in 8/2004 and less than a year later things changed after he found out I had a disability. I became a target of management, and suffered a recurrence of PTSD after a male supervisor twice my size cornered me and threatened me when I was unable to work overtime after my tour ended (an accommmodation I was given since I was hired) to complete a task another employee swore in an affidavit was her responsibility to complete the day before. Corrente not only permitted this behavior, but encouraged it. He fired me because of my disability in 3/2008, citing my inability to perform my duties when, in fact, I performed every duty assigned to me up until the date I was walked out of the office like a criminal. His other justifications were a charge of AWOL when my supervisor (someone who “moved up the ladder” in lightening speed under Corrente, holding three senior management positions over two years) denied my request for leave for recuperation and further testing from a pancreatitis attack (due to work-related stress) and excessive absences. The previous year, I had a complex spinal surgery and Corrente refused to allow me to return part-time. I couldn’t return full-duty for 5 months (I had titanium rods removed and replaced in my spine, in addition to another fusion) and this absence was used to fire me. And, today, I have my bankruptcy hearing — all thanks to Corrente. After working hard to overcome a disability that started in 1991, set up two litigation support departments for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in two states, and 21 years in Federal service during which time I received numerous awards for my contributions, I am reduced to filing for bankruptcy and wondering if I will be able to keep my home. So, thank you Corrente for taking away everything I worked so hard for and everything I rightfully earned. And, thank you, for not running for Governor of RI and thereby removing even the slightest possibility that someone like you could be elected.