Lincoln Chafee: Rhode Island Governor Will Soon Be a Democrat


The AP reports Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, a former Republican Senator who won the governorship as an Independent in 2010, plans to join the Democratic Party. The Governor's office has not yet issued a statement on the matter. 

Chafee will be seeking reelection on the Democratic ticket despite a 25.5% job approval rating, caused in part by an unemployment rate at 8.8%. Although a GOP senator from 1999 to 2007, Gov. Chafee did not support President George W. Bush's reelection, and in 2007 left the party to become an Independent. He supported Obama in 2008 and 2012. 

Chafee has moved so far from the GOP that last year he was a featured speaker at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, supporting Obama's stance in favor of gay marriage, the environment, and abortion rights.

Chafee's decision to run for reelection as a Democrat is of great benefit to the Rhode Island Democratic Party because it removes any threat of a serious Independent contender pulling votes away from the Democratic nominee. 

Although it is from January, the most recent polling data on the Democratic Primary puts State Treasurer Gina Raimondo well in the lead to clinch the nomination, with approximately 40% of the vote. Chafee was not included in that poll.