The Spectacle Blog

Lincoln Chafee Hops the Fence

By on 5.29.13 | 5:59PM

Rhode Island's Gov. Lincoln Chafee, formerly a Republican and currently an independent, has joined the Democratic Party in anticipation of his re-election bid, according to the Associated Press.

For a good primer on Chafee, check out "Ocean State Anointed" from our February issue. Ethan Epstein writes that

there’s a name for people who hold Chafee’s views: Democrats. But even after leaving the Senate, Chafee resisted embracing his natural party. (This despite the fact that he co-chaired Obama’s campaign in Rhode Island in 2008, endorsed the president again in 2012, and even spoke at the recent Democratic National Convention last year.) Instead, he declared himself an “Independent,” and in 2010, announced his intention to run for governor of Rhode Island, against both a Republican and a Democratic nominee. […]

Chafee is certain to face a tough reelection fight come November 2014. Not only has a recent poll pegged his approval rating at 29 percent, but the governor also lacks the party machinery, fundraising infrastructure, and even simple group loyalty that Republican or Democratic party membership would provide. Last December, he candidly admitted that he might decide to run for reelection as a Democrat. “There is no independent governors association throwing money around,” he told the Associated Press. But Chafee has earned a reputation for being supercilious and aloof, almost like that other Boston Brahmin John Kerry. He thinks of himself as above the fray. Whether this stems from his upbringing, his education, or simply his last name, it’s a serious obstacle to his ever joining the Democrats.

Then again, maybe he’ll leave the Independents, and simply claim that the Independents left him.

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