Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee to Become a Democrat

May 29, 2013 2:10pm

gty lincoln chafee kb 130529 wblog Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee to Become a Democrat

President Obama today rolled out the welcome mat for Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, the Republican-turned-independent who now plans to affiliate with the Democrats before his 2014 re-election run, three Democratic sources told ABC News today.

“I’m delighted to hear that Governor Chafee is joining the Democratic Party,” President Obama said in a statement issued through the Democratic National Committee. “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.  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.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at today’s daily press briefing, “Governor Chafee’s been a longtime supporter of President Obama, and – not as a party member, but as a supporter of the president and his policies both – but I don’t have any other response.”

Chafee’s gubernatorial office in Rhode Island declined to comment.

The governor dropped his affiliation with the Republican Party in 2007, after serving a single Senate term. He won office as a Republican in 2000, then was unseated by Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse in 2006. Chafee was elected governor as an independent in 2010.

“It’s not my party anymore,” Chafee said at the time.

Chafee’s gubernatorial office in Rhode Island declined to comment,  but Chafee has notified Democratic Party officials of his decision, the sources said.

The governor dropped his affiliation with the Republican Party in 2007, after serving a single Senate term. He won office as a Republican in 2000, then was unseated by Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse in 2006. Chafee was elected governor as an independent in 2010.

“It’s not my party anymore,” Chafee said at the time.

Chafee, 60, opposed the invasion of Iraq and cited “permanent deficits,” unfunded tax cuts and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as Republican policies he opposed.

He campaigned for President Obama in 2008 and 2012.

“The president welcomes Governor Chafee to the party,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at today’s daily press briefing. “Governor Chafee’s been a longtime supporter of President Obama, and – not as a party member, but as a supporter of the president and his policies both – but I don’t have any other response.”

Chafee has seen low approval ratings and could enter a competitive Democratic primary field. State Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, both Democrats, have reportedly been gearing up to run for the office in 2014.

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