fb-pixel Skip to main content

R.I. Democratic strategist under fire for tweet about Senator Lindsey Graham testing positive for COVID-19

“It’s wrong to hope he dies from Covid, right?” Kate Coyne-McCoy tweeted. “Asking for a friend.”

US Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican.Kevin Dietsch/Getty

PROVIDENCE — Rhode Island Democratic Party political strategist Kate Coyne-McCoy is facing criticism for a tweet about Republican Senator Lindsey Graham testing positive for COVID-19.

“It’s wrong to hope he dies from Covid, right?” Coyne-McCoy tweeted Monday night. “Asking for a friend. #CovidIsNotOver #LindseyGraham.”

The tweet has since been deleted, but it was screen-grabbed by a Washington Free Beacon reporter.

Coyne-McCoy issued an apology a few hours later.

“I made a mistake,” Coyne-McCoy tweeted Tuesday morning. “I used poor judgement which I obviously regret.”

In her Twitter profile, Coyne-McCoy describes herself as a “mom, meme, lover of dogs, liberal, political strategist working for a better world. Leading RI Democratic Party! Tweets are my own!” She did not immediately return a call for comment Tuesday.


Rhode Island Republican Chairwoman Sue Cienki called for Coyne-McCoy to resign.

“She is a malevolent partisan hack,” Cienki told the Globe. “Is this the Rhode Island Democratic strategy — to hope a Republican dies?”

Cienki said Graham has been an advocate of telling people to get the vaccine. She said Democratic Governor Daniel J. McKee and House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi should be joining the call for Coyne-McCoy’s resignation. “Is this what they believe?” she asked.

House Minority Leader Blake A. Filippi, a Block Island Republican, tweeted: “If @rigopchairwoman [Cienki] or any RIGOP official were to say anything like this, I would immediately and publicly demand their resignation. Hoping my Democratic House colleagues do the right thing here.”

But neither Shekarchi nor McKee called for Coyne-McCoy’s resignation Tuesday.

Shekarchi, a Warwick Democrat, issued a statement, saying, “Kate Coyne-McCoy’s tweet from her personal account was offensive and it does not reflect my views or those of the Rhode Island Democratic Party. I have spoken to her and she is extremely remorseful, and I’m pleased she apologized.”


During his weekly news conference, McKee called the tweet “very concerning” and “troubling.”

But, he said, “I think we will let the process work out as any process in terms of a person staying in a position or not staying in a position. I know that she has put out an apology. We will see whether Senator Graham responds to her apology or not. But people make mistakes. As I said, that is a serious mistake to make.”

McKee indicated he would be speaking about the matter with Shekarchi and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio, a North Providence Democrat, on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Black Lives Matter Rhode Island Political Action Committee joined the call for Coyne-McCoy’s resignation.

“Regardless of political affiliation, the disregard for human life is unacceptable and should not be tolerated anywhere within any political party,” the PAC said in a statement. “Anything short of an immediate resignation, would signal that these types of comments are acceptable within the RI Democratic Party.”

Graham, a South Carolina Republican, was vaccinated against COVID-19 in December, when doses were administered to members of Congress. But Monday, he said he had tested positive with a “breakthrough” infection. He said his symptoms were mild because he was fully vaccinated.

“I feel like I have a sinus infection and at present time I have mild symptoms,” Graham said on Twitter. “I will be quarantining for ten days. I am very glad I was vaccinated because without vaccination I am certain I would not feel as well as I do now. My symptoms would be far worse.”


In March, the Rhode Island Democratic Party announced that it was hiring Coyne-McCoy as part of a party reorganization.

“Political strategist and R.I. native Kate Coyne-McCoy has been retained to develop and implement programs that will modernize the party and position Democrats to win from the top to the bottom of the ballot,” the party said at the time. “Revising and rebuilding communications, grassroots organizing, data and finance, Coyne-McCoy will lead the party through the 2022 elections.”

Coyne-McCoy is a political consultant who runs KCM Consulting. She is a former regional director for EMILY’s List who was a senior adviser to US Representative Val Demings of Florida. She formed a super PAC to back now-US Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo’s first run for governor. She once headed the Rhode Island chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and ran for Congress in a Democratic primary in 2000.

Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.