PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Republican Party has elected former East Greenwich Town Council President Sue Cienki as the party’s new chair.
Cienki was chosen by GOP committee members at a meeting Saturday. She succeeds Brandon Bell, who opted to retire after two terms leading the party.
Cienki defeated three other candidates, with her strongest competition coming from former General Assembly candidate Rebecca Schiff, who had the backing of two-time gubernatorial nominee Allan Fung. The other candidates were Michael Veri and Robert Lancia.
“I have the leadership skills, time, and energy to devote to the position of chair,“ Cienki wrote in a recent letter to fellow Republicans asking for their votes. “I am not afraid of a challenge and willing to speak out on behalf of taxpayers on many important issues.“
She said the GOP’s main goals under her leadership will be to “have a clearly identifiable message, focus on fundraising efforts, and recruit General Assembly candidates to run for office.“
Cienki served on the East Greenwich council for four years during which the town was roiled by tumultuous debates over municipal finances. Democrats capitalized on the turmoil to sweep the council last fall, unseating Cienki and her fellow Republicans.
Republicans have long struggled in Rhode Island, where Democrats have dominated state politics for decades. The party currently holds no federal or statewide elected offices.
The selection of Cienki won immediate praise from former gubernatorial candidate Patricia Morgan, who herself served as Republican chair during the mid-2000s:
This is a positive step for the Rhode Island Republican Party. @RhodeIslandGOP Sue Cienki will be terrific. Great choice!!! @CienkiSue https://t.co/rws6x5dEBK— Patricia Morgan (@repmorgan) March 30, 2019
The Rhode Island Democratic Party held its own leadership elections last weekend, giving state Rep. Joe McNamara another term as chairman.