Chafee returns to political race as independent running for RI governor

January 4, 2010

Former Republican Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee says he wants to be free of the chains of party politics.

And so he is running for Rhode Island governor as an independent. Chafee left the Republican Party in 2007 after losing his Senate re-election bid to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. USA ELECTIONS

Chafee, a social liberal who often crossed the floor to vote with the Democrats, is now a visiting fellow at Brown University in Providence, R.I. He announced on Monday he will run for governor in a bid to replace two-term Republican Governor Don Carcieri who cannot run again in November because of term limits.

“I believe that running as an independent will free me from the constraints that party politics impose on candidates,” Chafee said.

Chafee, 56, who worked as a professional farrier for several years before entering politics, stands a chance to canter ahead of the usual two-horse race  in the Ocean State.

The non-partisan Cook Political Report has termed the race a toss-up.  State Rep.  Joe Trillo is the likely Republican candidate and state Attorney General Patrick Lynch is currently the only Democrat who has announced.

Shifting party allegiances continue to have an impact on party ranks.

In the southern state of Alabama, U.S. Representative Parker Griffith last month joined the Republican Party after ditching the Democrats, who currently hold the majority in Congress but are bracing to lose seats in this year’s elections.

It’s only the fourth day of the election year, and plenty of time for more surprises, switches, and speculation…

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Photo credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder (Chafee on cell phone in 2006)

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