For some reason, this isn't being called a battle for the soul of the Republican Party. How odd.
In any event, today's primary in next-door Rhode Island will still be one to watch, as its expected to go down to the wire. An interesting R.I. primary tidbit:
Rhode Island has a hybrid primary, meaning independents -- technically called unaffiliated voters -- can vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary. Registered Republicans are limited to voting in the GOP primary, and enrolled Democrats can cast ballots only in their party's primary.
There are 365,658 independents eligible to vote in either primary, 68,864 Republican voters who cast only GOP ballots, and 236,665 Democrats who can vote only in their party's primary. (MacKay)
Laffey is supported by the conservative Club for Growth, which almost took out Sen. Arlen Specter in 2004. There have been some reports that Republicans will essentially abandon the field in Rhode Island, a heavily Democratic state, should Laffey win.
The race is being seen as a test of anti-incumbent sentiment, and has been compared to the August primary between Lieberman and Lamont. However, this race is not drawing national media attention, nor are pundits lining up to decry a too-conservative tilt to the GOP or a purge of moderates. Funny, that. I suppose only liberals have purges.
The seat could be a pickup for Democrats regardless of the outcome.
MacKay, Scott. "It's a nail biter in the Chafee, Laffey primary contest." Providence Journal 8 September, 2006.