Rhode Island Governor to Switch Political Parties

Independent Gov. Lincoln Chafee (RI) first followed his father into politics as a burgeoning Republican in his tiny New England state. He continued to rock the ‘R’ after his name during his eight years in the US Senate, but chose to run as an Independent for the governorship in 2010. After openly contemplating a party switch for some time, he has finally decided to exchange his ‘I’ for a ‘D’ in the face of a tough reelection battle next year.

Chafee was consistently the most liberal Republican in the Senate; most notably, he was the only Republican to vote against the Iraq War in 2002. Endorsed by Chafee in 2008 and 2012, President Obama returned the favor in a statement: “I’m thrilled to welcome Linc to the party of Jefferson and Jackson, Roosevelt and Kennedy – and I look forward to working with him in the years ahead.”

Gov. Lincoln Chafee Credit: Washington Post

Gov. Lincoln Chafee
Credit: Washington Post

Emerging from a stint of perilously low job approval ratings, Chafee’s move has been seen as nothing more than political positioning- though a senior aide to the governor denies that charge. “It really is a matter of conviction with this governor,” the aide said. “For anybody to imply that affiliating as a Democrat is simply about politics or about winning an election, doesn’t know Gov. Chafee.”

Even if the switch was designed purely for reelection purposes, the gubernatorial seat may elude Chafee still. His polling numbers among Rhode Island voters are weak, and several rising Democratic politicians are already lining up to challenge him. In addition, sources affirm that his new status as a Democrat will have no effect on his unpopular governing agenda.

1 Comment

  1. May 29, 2013  11:49 pm by theebl Reply

    This is like saying Liberace "came out." Linc Chafee has been a Democrat for a long long time.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.