Mike Chippendale, a Foster legislator, has managed to raise an issue that Governor Gina Raimondo and Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, the two leading candidates for governor, can agree on. The issue being that he was wrong to call gun safety activist and Parkland shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez a “dummy” in a tweet yesterday that he eventually deleted.
“Rep. Chippendale’s attack calling Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez a ‘dummy’ is disrespectful,” said Governor Gina Raimondo. “It’s rude and unfair. She’s an inspirational young woman. There is no place for that kind of language in the civic discourse, especially directed towards a young woman who survived a horrifying school shooting trying to do the right thing. And by the way — she’s having a huge impact.”
Chippendale was also publicly rebuked by Cranston Mayor Allan Fung’s campaign for governor, of which he serves as the Foster chairman.
“We have talked with Representative Chippendale, and expressed our disappointment in his choice of words,” said Fung campaign spokesman Andrew Augustus, according to a Providence Journal story. “We hope he will chose his words better in the future.”
I asked Chippendale this morning on Twitter why he deleted the tweet and he did not immediately respond. This post will be updated if he further comments on the matter. UPDATE: Chippendale apologized yesterday.
Gonzalez, a teenager, became a nationally-renowned gun safety activist after she survived the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Chippendale was responding to her tweet calling attention to the fact that the Waffle House shooter was stopped by an unarmed person. His tweet illustrates the acerbic treatment NRA supporters have heaped on Gonzalez, and other Parkland survivors.
A former police officer and current Trump supporter, Chippendale is both one of the General Assembly’s more frequent users of Twitter, and one its biggest defenders of guns. He typically aligns with the NRA, and can be every bit as abrasive as is the nation’s foremost defender of guns, which as of late has been accused of encouraging discord and distrust among the American people and helping Russia meddle in the 2016 election. Chippendale’s social media persona can range from caustic to mean. Some Foster residents complain he blocks them on Twitter.
It’s unclear if Chippendale, a Republican, is running for re-election, or if he has an opponent yet. In 2016, he easily cruised to victory over Democrat Joe Cardillo. While Trump easily beat Hillary Clinton in House District 40 (Foster, Glocester, and parts of Coventry), Barack Obama narrowly beat Mitt Romney there in 2012.