Lincoln Davenport Chafee (born March 26, 1953) is an American politician who has been the 74th Governor of Rhode Island since January 2011. Prior to his election as Governor, Chafee served in the United States Senate as a Republican from 1999 until losing his Senate re-election bid in 2006 to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. In 2007 he left the Republican Party and became an Independent. He is the first Independent to serve as Governor of Rhode Island since John Collins, who served 1786-1790. A Rhode Island native educated at Phillips Academy and Brown University, Chafee worked as a professional farrier for seven years before entering state politics in 1985. He was a delegate to the Rhode Island State Constitutional Convention, a member of the Warwick, Rhode Island city council, and later the mayor of Warwick. Chafee was appointed to the United States Senate in 1999 upon the death of his father, Senator John Chafee, and was re-elected in the 2000 Senate election for a full six-year term. Chafee was a supporter of Barack Obama's 2008 presidential bid. On January 4, 2010, Chafee declared his intent to run for Governor of Rhode Island. Prior to entering the gubernatorial race he was a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies.
Chafee was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of John Chafee and Virginia Coates.He attended public schools in Warwick, Rhode Island, Providence Country Day School, and Phillips Academy. At Brown University, Chafee captained the wrestling team and in 1975 earned a Bachelor of Arts in Classics. He then attended the Montana State University horseshoeing school in Bozeman. For the next seven years, he worked as a farrier at harness racetracks in the United States and Canada. One of the horses he shod, Overburden, set the track record at Northlands Park in Edmonton, Alberta.Chafee and his wife, Stephanie D. Chafee, have three children: Louisa, Caleb and Thea. Chafee's great-great-grandfather, Henry Lippitt, was Governor of Rhode Island. Among his great-great-uncles are Rhode Island governor Charles Warren Lippitt and United States Senator Henry Frederick Lippitt. His great-uncle, Zechariah Chafee, was a Harvard law professor and a notable civil libertarian. The Chafee family were among the earliest settlers of Hingham, Massachusetts, before moving south to Rhode Island.
Chafee entered politics in 1985 as a delegate to the Rhode Island Constitutional Convention. A year later, he was elected to the Warwick City Council, where he served until his election as Warwick's mayor in 1992, a post he held until his 1999 appointment to the U.S. Senate. After his father announced that he would not seek reelection in 2000, Lincoln Chafee announced he would run for the seat.When John Chafee died suddenly in October 1999, Gov. Lincoln Almond appointed the younger Chafee to serve out the term. He was elected to a full six-year term in 2000, defeating Democratic candidate then- U.S. Representative Robert Weygand by a 57 percent to 41 percent margin in the heavily Democratic state.
2006 re-election campaign
Main article: Rhode Island U.S. Senate election, 2006. In September 2005, Steve Laffey, the mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island, announced his intention to run against Chafee in the Republican primary. Laffey was considered a formidable challenger, as he was much more conservative than Chafee. Among other stances totally opposite those of Chafee's, Laffey was pro-life and against embryonic stem cell research. Laffey was heavily supported by notable conservative groups, including the Club for Growth and several Ohio-based pro-life groups.Chafee went on to defeat Laffey in the primary on September 12 by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent, an unusually close margin for an incumbent Senator. The turnout for the Republican primary was the largest in Rhode Island history. In his victory speech, Chafee credited unaffiliated voters and disaffiliated Democrats for his victory.Chafee was defeated by Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse in the general election. Whitehouse won by a 54 percent to 46 percent margin. Despite Chafee's high approval ratings statewide, Whitehouse pointed out that Chafee supported his party's more conservative leadership.In response to a question at a news conference on November 9, 2006, Chafee stated that he was unsure whether he would remain in the Republican Party after serving out the remainder of his term. According to Michelle R. Smith of the Associated Press, when asked whether he felt that his loss may have helped the country by switching control of power in Congress, he replied: "To be honest, yes."
In December 2006, Chafee announced that he was accepting a fellowship to serve as a "distinguished visiting fellow" at Brown University's Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies. The university has Chafee leading a student group studying U.S. foreign policy. In the summer of 2007, Chafee officially left the Republican Party, changing his affiliation to independent. He said that he did so because of the Republicans' increasing conservatism, and particularly cited spending cuts in programs which assisted the middle- and low-income people, such as Pell Grants and Head Start.In February 2008 he said he was considering voting for Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential primary.On February 14, with the Rhode Island Democratic primary approaching in three weeks, Chafee officially endorsed Obama.In 2008, Chafee joined the advisory board of J Street, a lobbying group that promotes diplomatic relations between Israel and its neighbors, and supports an independent Palestinian state.In September 2008, Chafee received significant media attention for describing Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska and the Republican vice-presidential nominee in the 2008 United States presidential election, as a "cocky wacko".
2010 gubernatorial candidacy
Main article: Rhode Island gubernatorial election, 2010. On January 4, 2010 Chafee formally declared his intention to run for Governor of Rhode Island in 2010 as an independent, as the incumbent Governor Donald Carcieri (a Republican re-elected the same day Chafee lost his Senate re-election bid) is term-limited. On October 31, 2010, electoral analysis site FiveThirtyEight.com gave Chafee a 63.8% chance of victory, compared to Democratic opponent Frank Caprio's 26.2% and Republican opponent John Robitaille's 10.0%. Likewise, other sites, such as the Cook Political Report, classified the race as a "toss-up".Chafee's approval rating at the time of his 2006 defeat was between 51% and 63%.On September 16, 2010, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg traveled to Rhode Island. Bloomberg praised Chafee's "experience and integrity", saying that Chafee would put Rhode Islanders' interests "ahead of party interests", and that Chafee would "produce results—because that's exactly what he did as a mayor and as senator."On November 2, 2010, Chafee won the gubernatorial race, winning with a 35.9% plurality in the seven candidate race.
May 6th, 2011