De la Cruz says state Republicans need to ‘get our message out’

De la Cruz says state Republicans need to ‘get our message out’

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Sen. Jessica de la Cruz, a North Smithfield resident and native of East Providence, said she never planned to run for political office. The Republican state senator for District 23, covering parts of North Smithfield and Burrillville, said she had no intention of getting into politics until a few years ago.

“If you had asked me years ago, if you told me I was going to run for office, I would’ve told you you’re crazy,” she said.

Now, two years after she was first elected, de la Cruz is a rising star in Rhode Island’s small contingent of Republican elected officials. She was elected Senate minority whip following her re-election in November and recently offered the Republican response to Gov. Gina Raimondo’s State of the State address.

Speaking to The Valley Breeze this week, de la Cruz said the challenges facing the party in Rhode Island in the next few years will be to gain more Senate seats and refocus its messaging.

“I think what we have had as a party and are trying to fix is messaging,” she said. “Getting our message out and making sure that the narrative isn’t written by someone else.”

The first Republican to represent the district in more than two decades, de la Cruz has been vocal on issues such as zero-based budgeting and government accountability. Her most recent legislation is a set of gun policies that would allow state residents to own a taser or stun gun and create an appeals process for those denied a concealed carry license. De la Cruz said the legislation came out of her own experience being denied a concealed carry license while living in East Providence.

“I went to Rhode Island Supreme Court and the Supreme Court admonished the police chief in East Providence and said you can’t deny people and not give them a reason why,” she said.

De la Cruz said she was eventually provided with a list of reasons but lacked the means to pursue the issue again at the Supreme Court. The new legislation would create an appeals process starting with the attorney general and the Superior Court before an individual has to appeal the denial at the Supreme Court.

The legislation has already failed to advance twice in Rhode Island’s blue General Assembly, but de la Cruz said she’s still hopeful things could still sway in her favor. She described it as “common sense legislation” and said it would put Rhode Island more in line with other state when it comes to possession of tasers and stun guns.

The daughter of Portuguese immigrants, de la Cruz said her own upbringing was neither blue nor red. When she first registered to vote at East Providence High School, she said, she didn’t know what a Democrat or a Republican was and signed up as an unaffiliated voter. Much of her family, she said, leans Democrat but doesn’t support the progressive shift in the party in recent years.

“A lot of my family, they’re Democrats, but they’re more like JFK Democrats and they’re not happy to see what’s happening within the party. They don’t like how left it’s going,” she said.

Rep. Brian Newberry, the Republican state representative for District 48, said that fits with what’s he seen in the district over the past decade. He described a “realignment” taking place between the two major parties at the national level that’s seen many previously reliably Democratic voters shifting Republican.

“When I got elected (in 2008), I was the only elected Republican representing Burrillville at all,” he said. “Now, it’s hard to find a Democrat in the town.”

Newberry said he thinks it’s the party alignment, and not the voters, that’s changed. He described Paul Fogarty, de la Cruz’s predecessor of 20 years in the district, as a “quintessential, labor-backed Democrat” whose views were not far off from conservatives on many issues.

Despite the recent attention following her State of the State response, de la Cruz said she has no plans to seek higher office in Rhode Island and plans to run for re-election in District 23 in 2022.

“I’ve been very vocal in my short time there in the Senate. I haven’t been afraid to speak in committee or on the floor. Even being appointed whip in my caucus was humbling for me, because my colleagues have I guess recognized that they want me to be doing these sorts of things,” she said.

Comments

I wish you the best young lady. You have the heart of a Lion to take the Democratic power machine established in RI. High taxes, unfriendly business environment, entitlements, a declining/aging population, and the possibility of losing a Congressman due to population decline. You have a tough road but you seem determined. Best of luck and may God bless you.

With what RI has been sending to DC lately, losing a Congressional Seat will be a blessing on the country. But I stand with you as far as supporting Senator De La Cruz. I'm not in her Senate district but I'm happy she is in the Senate.

I spent quite a bit of time talking with Sen. de la Cruz and her husband when she first campaigned in 2016. She told me of her problems trying to get a carry permit and that she was a strong proponent of 2nd A rights. I'm thrilled to see her following through (against all odds) and I'm hopeful she will be successful at some point.

Thank you for your comments. The solution for our Congressional Delegation to stop the decrease in population is to make the State of RI a "sanctuary" state. That will really help our economic plight. Stay strong, spread the word...resist...resist...resist

I found it interesting that every comment made on this article was a response from a white male conservative. Jessica De la Cruz is an individual that represents herself and not her female constituents, who adamantly want the opportunity to control their own bodies. She does not want the hourly wage to be raised to $15.00 per hour and even that, is not a living wage. She believes in sanctuary status for gun owners and will not defend her views when challenged on an issue. The very few state republicans that get their word out rarely if ever do anything that directly impact their constituents. I challenge Jessica and Brian Newberry to each name five things that have been of benefit to their constituents. And Brian’s assertion that Democrats are turning Republican is absolutely ludicrous. The Republican Party is being torn apart. You have on the one hand those that have ethics and morals and then you have the Marjorie Taylor Green constituency that believes Sandy Hook was staged by actors and Jewish lasers are staring fires in CA....