Rhode Island Gov. changes party ID–again
May 29th, 2013
01:33 PM ET
11 months ago

Rhode Island Gov. changes party ID–again

Updated Wednesday 5/29 5:04 p.m. ET

(CNN) – Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent, plans to run for re-election next year as a Democrat, his office confirmed Wednesday to CNN.

The first-term governor became the first governor in the state's history to serve as an independent when he was elected in 2010.

Christian Vareika, a spokesman for Chafee, said the governor will sign affiliation papers Thursday morning at Warwick City Hall. The story was first reported by Politico.

President Barack Obama, through a statement released by the Democratic National Committee, welcomed Chafee to the party.

"For nearly 30 years, Linc Chafee has served his beloved Rhode Island as an independent thinker and leader who’s unafraid to reach across party lines to get things done," Obama said. "I enjoyed working with Linc when he was a Republican in the United States Senate, and I look forward to continuing that collaboration on the issues that matter not just to the Democratic Party, but to every American."

Chafee endorsed Obama in 2008 and served as a national co-chair for the president's re-election campaign last year.

Rhode Island is known as a reliably blue state; both of its U.S. senators are Democrats, and the party has a majority in both houses of the state legislature. The state has also voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1988.

Earlier this month Chafee enthusiastically signed a bill that legalized same-sex marriage, making his state the 10th in the country to give gay and lesbian couples the right to marry.

Republican Governors Association Executive Director Phil Cox argued Chafee was "saddled' with low approval ratings and had a tough re-election battle ahead.

“Lincoln Chafee flip-flopped again today to switch his party registration. Make no mistake, this was a decision based purely on politics, not policy," Cox said in a statement. "Lincoln Chafee’s record as Rhode Island’s governor is clear: fewer jobs and higher debt. With his inability to manage his state or create a jobs-friendly environment, he will fit right in with today’s group of Democratic Governors.”

A former Republican U.S. senator, Chafee was appointed to the Senate seat vacated by his father, John Chafee, when he died in October 1999. Then-Gov. Lincoln Almond appointed Chafee to the seat to complete the remainder of his father's term, and Chafee won election on his own in 2000.

Chafee was known in the Senate for his moderate leanings. He frequently found himself at odds with his own party during the George W. Bush administration, and in 2006, he lost his re-election bid to then-Democratic candidate Sheldon Whitehouse.

Chafee became an independent a year later and then ran for governor in 2010, besting the Republican and Democratic nominees with 36% support.

Of the country's governors, Chafee is currently the only independent, while 30 serve as Republicans and 19 serve as Democrats.

– CNN's Paul Steinhauser, Peter Hamby, Ashley Killough and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Lincoln Chafee • Rhode Island
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. just askin

    why not just go straight to the communist party? democrat party is communist-lite, go all the way lincoln. stop jerking the voters around and come clean on exactly who you are.

    May 29, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    I read this to mean that he's having trouble with his fund raising. He should do much better than as an Independent because of the larger base.

    May 29, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  3. much thunder..little rain

    bi -polar...cant make up his mind..poor soul only wants to win and has no core value to anybody but himselve

    May 29, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    Most "independents" are really just Dems who are non-committal. They tend to vote Dem, unless they are disillusioned by the candidate.

    May 29, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  5. Donna

    Is there a Chameleon Party he can join??? It would sure suit him!

    May 29, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  6. ST

    @ just askin
    Can you enlighten us What is the Communist Party? Does it exist in US? And who is the leader? For your information the only Party which stands and still makes sense is the Democratic Party. The rest are just on life support praying to god for their survival.

    May 29, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  7. Fair is Fair

    Dude's a moonbat anyway... democrat party is quite appropriate for the loser.

    May 29, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    Sounds like he's a spade and finally just decided he should call himself a spade. Nothing hypocritical about it really and the progression has always been in the same direction. He'd be excoriated and drummed out of the GOP for signing a same-sex marriage bill anyway. Besides, meh, Rhode Island is a weird place .

    May 29, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  9. just askin

    ST
    Can you enlighten us What is the Communist Party? - now called the democrat party, also progressive is used.

    Does it exist in US? - yes, but has been renamed to the democrat party.

    And who is the leader? - barack hussein obama, nancy pelosi, harry reid, hillary clinton, all far leftists aka communists

    May 29, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  10. just sayin

    Sniffit
    Besides, meh, Rhode Island is a weird place .
    -–

    all blue states are. it's what happens when patients run the asylum.

    May 29, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. Chaerlotte

    Shoot, Rudy – I thought you said "a larger nose" and I was going to call you kind of mean. But I re-read. You have a good point.

    May 29, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  12. Gurgyl

    .......because GOP is gone dead and wild, he knows. So is the world.

    May 29, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  13. bigD

    Of course he's going Dem not wacko enuf for the Repubs

    May 29, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  14. rs

    why not just go straight to the communist party? democrat party is communist-lite, go all the way lincoln. stop jerking the voters around and come clean on exactly who you are.
    _______________________________________
    How silly. The President and much of the Democratic Party is quite middle-of-the-road- hence the reason they win elections. Members of the clown-car party still seem to be uncontrollably spinning-out to the right,so pretty much anything to their left looks "Socialist", "Communist" and on and on. Craziness does that, I guess.

    May 29, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  15. The Real Tom Paine

    -just askin

    ST
    Can you enlighten us What is the Communist Party? – now called the democrat party, also progressive is used.

    Does it exist in US? – yes, but has been renamed to the democrat party.

    And who is the leader? – barack hussein obama, nancy pelosi, harry reid, hillary clinton, all far leftists aka communists
    ****************
    Keep going, keep driving the clown car off the Rightie cliff. You've all withdrawn into your hillbilly districts, afraid of anything that does not confirm to your blinkered vision. The GOP is an evolutionary dead end.

    May 29, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  16. The Real Tom Paine

    -just sayin

    Sniffit
    Besides, meh, Rhode Island is a weird place .
    -–

    all blue states are. it's what happens when patients run the asylum.
    ****************
    At least our patients work, unlike the taker red states, where the rednecks complain about the gubmint while waiting with their hands out for the next Federal Check to arrive.

    May 29, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    Democrats, Communists, Progressives, liberals. No difference.

    May 29, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "all blue states are. it's what happens when patients run the asylum."

    Yawn. Last I checked, we're all paying for the "moocher" red states to be governed by conservative ideologues and run their economies, employment and budgets into the ground. Sooo, yeah, perhaps on some level you're right...that's obviously crazy and we should make it stop. One might even wonder why we're not the ones who want to secede. But hey, you be sure to let us know when "all y'all" red states are willing to sign onto a Constitutional Amendment that limits the amount of federal aid a state can receive to the amount of money it contributes to the pool of federal taxes.

    May 29, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  19. elucidated1

    I think RS below has it right. . for the Democrats to have won big last Nov. in the electoral vote shows signs that US women and latinos do not buy the angry . . left wing communist argument spewed by the tea party. Then we have the humorous "just askin' also attempting to make the sorry argument that anyone to the left of Rand Paul is a flaming liberal. Nice. I'll bet the GOP is going to put all of their lots with Chris the "biggest loser" Christie .. and attempt to get a moderate through the primaries. Good luck with that one.

    May 29, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  20. Al-NY,NY

    ST

    @ just askin
    Can you enlighten us What is the Communist Party? Does it exist in US? And who is the leader? For your information the only Party which stands and still makes sense is the Democratic Party. The rest are just on life support praying to god for their survival.
    -----------

    the opposite would be to go to the GOP (aka NSDAP) and swear their alliegance with two fingers in the air....like Neurumberg to Grover and or Rushbo

    May 29, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  21. Tommy G

    Just another rich white guy, like Bloomberg, with nothing better to do but try and hold onto power. The last politician in the world I would vote for is one that changes his stripes every election. It says what i smost important to him is to cling to the handles of power and control.

    May 29, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  22. mikeb

    Lincoln Chafee didn't leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party left him.

    May 29, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  23. The Real Tom Paine

    Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    Democrats, Communists, Progressives, liberals. No difference.
    ******************
    Republicans, Fascists, Nazis, conservatives, hypocrites. No difference, except we work

    May 29, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  24. just askin

    maybe it is time that each state goes its own way? rural folk don't want the crazy liberal ideas forced on them. alaska could do what it wants with its oil and resources. western red states could get their stolen land back from the feds. red southern states coulod band together and have a great corner of the country. blue states could starve or pay ten times what they do now for the food grown in the red states. i would vote for it in a minute.

    May 29, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    just askin

    why not just go straight to the communist party? democrat party is communist-lite, go all the way lincoln. stop jerking the voters around and come clean on exactly who you are.
    ---------------
    Just wondering. What is the "Democrat Party" that so many on the right talk about? I'm familiar with the "Democratic Party", but not yours. You folks sound like "Biff" from "Back to the Future" whenever you say that. Did you know that?

    May 29, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |