Chafee: I’m open to running as a Democrat in 2014

April 14th, 2011 at 9:45 am by under Nesi's Notes

Gov. Lincoln Chafee says it’s possible he’ll run for reelection as a Democrat in 2014 – and it’s also possible he’ll decline to endorse Barack Obama’s bid for a second term in the White House.

The next gubernatorial election is “a long way away” and running as a Democrat “would be a hard step, just because of history,” Chafee said Monday during a 45-minute interview with WPRI.com. Chafee’s father was a Republican governor and senator, and the younger Chafee was in the G.O.P. until 2007.

Still, Chafee said he thinks his lack of party affiliation has caused him some political headaches. “I love being an independent, but the disadvantage is I don’t have a party spokesperson – somebody that traditionally fills the role of hatchet man out there,” the governor said.

By contrast, Chafee said being an independent has proven to be “an advantage” in his dealings with the General Assembly, because it allows him to mingle with members of both parties – although he acknowledged “there’s some persona non grata atmosphere” when he visits the Republican minority’s offices.

‘War machine just grinds on’

Chafee endorsed Barack Obama for president in 2008, a year after he left the Republican Party. Obama repaid Chafee last fall by pointedly declining to endorse Democrat Frank Caprio in their gubernatorial race – the impetus for Caprio’s infamous “shove it” comment.

But Chafee says he hasn’t made up his mind yet about whether to endorse Obama again in 2012 – because of his administration’s foreign policy.

“The wars are my only hesitation,” Chafee said, referring to the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. “It’s costing so much money. And lives. … The war machine just grinds on. Makes no sense to me.”

“Don’t forget – [Obama] stayed neutral in my race,” Chafee said. “So there’s a precedent to stay neutral.”

Chafee did say he was “very flattered” to be seated with Obama at the head table at the White House when his fellow governors were in Washington over the winter. But he questioned the president’s handling of last week’s negotiations with Republicans to avert a federal shutdown.

“It sounded to me like the president might have given away a lot,” Chafee said. “And Clinton didn’t do that – Clinton said, ‘Go ahead and shut down the government. I’m not going to send us into deficits and broken programs that we can’t afford.’ ”

Ducks Magistrate Montalbano question

During his campaign for governor, Chafee frequently referred to his “ABCs” of economic development – maximizing the state’s assets, dealing with the budget deficit, and cracking down on political corruption. On the last of those, he said the key for him will be leading an ethical administration.

“Even if my cousin were the best qualified for the job, you just can’t do it,” Chafee said. “You have to be cleaner than clean when you’re trying to change your reputation.”

But the governor clammed up when asked whether that meant it was inappropriate for former Senate President Joe Montalbano to have been named a magistrate judge last month.

“I’m not going to fight with the General Assembly,” Chafee said flatly.

The governor also responded curtly when asked whether he would read the new memoir by former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci, one of his staunchest critics: “No.”

However, Chafee did confirm one of the stories Cianci tells in his book – that years ago the future senator and governor asked for a job as a garbageman in Providence.

“That is a true story,” Chafee said, explaining that he and his roommate at Brown University were looking for a summer job after their senior year and thought picking up trash might be a good one. There was a similar program in his hometown of Warwick, he said.

“I just thought about it this morning,” Chafee recalled. “I saw a truck go by with the guy hanging on the back – you talk about being outdoors, that looked like fun. The truck stops, it’s good, hard work, and you’re hanging onto the back.”

Chafee also said he and his roommate were surprised when they wound up in front of Cianci after requesting the job. ”We just reached out to the Public Works Department about a summer program, and the next thing we know the mayor’s invited us into his office,” he said. “We never expected that.”

This is the last of three articles based on my interview with Governor Chafee.

Follow-up: Dem leader Pacheco noncommittal on Chafee joining the party

(photo: Chafee campaign)

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13 Responses to “Chafee: I’m open to running as a Democrat in 2014”

  1. Jim Donahue says:

    Ted he specifically stated that he would be an end to cronyism its still on his campaign website.

    He has hired every political hack in the book but no one in the media is calling him on any of that. Fogarty is qualified to run the DLT and that ex police woman is qualified to run the DMV? He has been plugging in hacks across the board.

    Ending cronyism was part of his 100 day economic plan. He is a liar at best and completely incompetent.

    http://chafeeforgovernor.com/2010/09/the_first_one_h.php

    “The Goals: Make our assets work for us, establish an honest budget policy, and end cronyism and corruption.”

    Here is a quote from Ed Mazze who Projo quotes all the time regarding the economy.

    “He’s losing credibility faster than the speed of light in the business community,” said Ed Mazze, a business professor at the University of Rhode Island. “I’ve never seen in any state I’ve lived in a governor lose credibility at such speed.” (Mazze said he has lived and worked in seven states, not counting Rhode Island.)

    Mazze said the loss of credibility in the local business community puts Chafee in an awkward position when he is out trying to bring other companies to Rhode Island.

  2. Lynn says:

    I think he’s doing the right thing, by running as a Democrat because he wouldn’t be so all alone without a coalition to help him, when a problem arises, such as what just took place yesterday at the State House about the sales tax proposal opposition, which generated neo-riot condidtions, I imagine. Sure, Speaker Fox had to say something before a riot break out. I think that there is too much leniency in allowing protests at the State House and there should be more security and control over who does and does not enter the building, the capacity limits, etc. About the Cianci book, funny how he(Linc) thought about applying for a job as a trash collector, true, why not, Buddy? Why didn’t you give Linc Chafee a shot? It’s not often that a nice kid from a priviledged, classy family shows interest in taking a job of such humility. Chafee didn’t think he was better; and garbage collectors are needed in every municipality, someone has to do it. However, Buddy Cianci can’t see the forest for the trees. Please, Linc don’t give up, you are being tortured by these bunch of volatile critics, I support you all the way.

  3. Lynn says:

    Why is he taking all of the blame for all of his predecessors? Carcieri was the world’s worst governor. Why are the people of this little dungeon state so backward? Chafee is doing what many other states have been doing. Vermont, for example has passed the gay marriage bill. Massachussets has lowered sales tax rates. It’s about time Rhode Island caught up by now, don’t you think so?

  4. Lynn says:

    People are torturing Governor Chafee. And I don’t think it’s right, it’s disrespectful, and my grandparent’s and parent’s generation would have never ever dreamed of doing this type of stuff. It’s terrible, and if Linc was governor back at those times, he would have gone unscathed. This guy hasn’t done anything wrong, and tries to do what is right, yet he gets crushed no matter what he says or does. He’s damned if he does, damned he doesn’t. I guess RI is still not ready for change in 2011.

  5. Jim Donahue says:

    Almost every other state is cutting back to balance their budget and Rhode Island is taxing its residents into oblivion.

    He lied about his cronyism pledge, not that anyone with a thought process believed that anyway.

    He isn’t looking to cut back at all and his taxes are the most regressive possible.

  6. [...] an interview with WPRI.com this week, Chafee left open the possibility he could join the Democratic Party before the 2014 [...]

  7. [...] Lincoln Chafee, a Democrat? He won’t rule it out in Part [...]

  8. Lynn says:

    It takes time to get a budget deficit in order, and Chafee has only been up there on Smith for a little over 3 months. I believe that he rushed too fast to come up with a budget proposal. Maybe if he had done more meetings with the House and Senate beforehand, this mess would have been avoided. I understand how he must feel, devastated. I do hope they will reach an agreement soon, I know they will, but only if the people stop interfering. The stupid ones that is.

  9. [...] week, though, Chafee told WPRI.com he hasn’t made up his mind yet about whether to endorse Obama for another term in the White [...]

  10. [...] • RI-Gov: Brand-new Gov. Lincoln Chafee says he might run as a Dem if he seeks re-election in 2014—and also says he might not endorse President Obama for re-election. At first I imagined he was trying to preserver wankerish “moderate” credentials, but if you read the linked article, you’ll see he actually criticizes Obama from the left for giving away too much in the recent government shutdown showdown. [...]