Lincoln Chafee

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See also: Lincoln Chafee presidential campaign, 2016
Lincoln Chafee
Lincoln Chafee.jpg
Governor of Rhode Island
Former officeholder
In office
January 4, 2011 - January 6, 2015
PredecessorDonald Carcieri (R)
Base salary$129,210
Elections and appointments
First electedNovember 2, 2010
Campaign $$3,055,383
Term limits2 consecutive terms
Prior offices
U.S. Senate, Rhode Island
November 2, 1999 – January 3, 2007
Mayor of Warwick
Warwick City Council
Bachelor'sBrown University (1975)
Date of birthMarch 26, 1953
Place of birthProvidence, RI
Office website
Campaign website
Lincoln Chafee (b. March 26, 1953 in Providence, Rhode Island) is the former Democratic Governor of Rhode Island. First elected to the governorship as an Independent on November 2, 2010, he became the only governor not to belong to one of the major parties when he was sworn in January 4, 2011.[1]

Chafee is considered a possible Democratic presidential candidate in 2016.

Chafee had previously belonged to the Republican party, serving in the U.S. Senate for seven years. Initially appointed to his father's seat upon the senior Senator Chafee's death in 1999, he won a six-year term in 2000. In 2006, he lost his seat to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. The following year, Chafee left the GOP and in 2010 was elected governor as an independent.[2] During his term, in anticipation of a possible re-election loss in 2014 as well as his affinity for President and former Senate colleague President Obama, Chafee made his second party switch, formally joining the Democratic Party on May 30, 2013.[3]

Prior to his Senate term, Chafee was a delegate to Rhode Island's Constitutional Convention and a member of the City Council of Warwick, Rhode Island. From there, he was elected as the Mayor of Warwick.[4]

The former Republican and sole sitting Independent governor until May 2013, Chafee was expected to seek re-election on the Democratic ticket in 2014, but announced on September 4, 2013 that he would not seek a second term.[5][6]


Chafee is a Rhode Island native, growing up in one of the state's political families. As an undergraduate at Brown University, he studied Classics as well as captaining the wrestling team. After undergraduate work. he studied at the Montana State University horseshoeing school in Bozeman, Montana and spent seven years working as a farrier at racetracks in the U.S. and Canada.[4]

He entered politics in 1985 when he was a delegate to Rhode Island's Constitutional Convention. The next year, he won election to Warwick's City Council. In 1992, he became the city's Mayor, a post he held until his Senate appointment in 1999.[4]

Following his departure from the Senate, Chafee accepted a post as a distinguished visiting fellow at Brown University's Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies, where he worked with undergraduates studying America's foreign policy until announcing his bid for governor in January 2010.[4]


  • Montana State University
  • B.A., Brown University
  • Phillips Academy[4]

Political career

Rhode Island Governor (2011-2015)

Chafee was sworn in as Governor of Rhode Island on January 4, 2011, at which time he became the nation's only sitting governor not to belong to one of the major parties. He held that distinction until May 30, 2013, when he switched his party affiliation to Democrat. A variety of factors contributed to Chafee's decision to become a Democrat, including his consistent support for President Obama and his trepidation in approaching 2014 re-election without the backing of a major-party or the majority of Rhode Island voters, according to polls showing the governor with basement-level job approval leading up to the switch.[7][8]

Despite being a predominantly Democratic state, Chafee's party switch marked the first time since 1995 that Rhode Island had a Democrat in the governor's office.[3]

Long affiliated with the Republican Party, Chafee became an Independent soon after losing his U.S. Senate seat to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse in the 2006 general election. Chafee's latest switch elicited enthusiastic welcomes from Democratic leaders nationwide, including President Obama and Democratic Governor's Association president Peter Shumlin of Vermont. The move gave the Democratic Party control over 20 governor seats while the Republicans held 30 seats.[3]

Transition team

Governor-elect Chafee's transition site was at Governor Elect Chafee. Graham Vyse served as the point of contact, available at and at 401-535-8834. Mike Trainor continued his campaign role as spokesman for Chafee, with the title of Deputy Transition Director. The first round of names announced for the transition team included Chairman Patrick Rogers, aided by Stephen Hourahan as Transition Director, Michael Trainor, Director of Transition Policy Jonathan Stevens, and Judge Stephen Erickson as the Transition Legislative Liaison/Legal Adviser.[9]

Additionally, a transition advisory committee was named, with Helena Buonanno Foulkes, Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer at CVS Caremark; Dr. Pablo Rodriguez, Associate Chair for Community Relationships in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Women and Infants' Hospital, and CEO of Women's Care; Meg Curran, former U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island; and Robert A. Walsh, Jr, Director of the National Education Association Rhode Island. On November 17, 2010, Chafee added Margaret Holland McDuff, Claire Richards, and John Simmons.[10]

Job creation ranking

In a June 2013 analysis by The Business Journals, which ranked 45 of the country's 50 governors by their job creation records, Chafee was ranked number 42. The five governors omitted from the analysis all assumed office in 2013. The ranking was based on a comparison of the annual private sector growth rate in all 50 states using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.[11][12]

Tax reform

In his budget for fiscal year 2014, Chafee proposed decreasing the state corporate tax rate from 9 to 7 percent over the next three years. The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity commended the governor for proposing New England's lowest corporate tax rate but suggested that its own proposal for eliminating Rhode Island's 7 percent sales tax would be much more effective at creating jobs. After comparing the two proposals with the Center's own tax modeling algorithm, Center CEO Mike Stenhouse claimed that ending the sales tax would create 23,873 jobs in the state over the next three years, but Chafee's proposal would only add 144.[13]

Pension reform

Chafee played a major role in overhauling the state's employee pension system. In 2011, Rhode Island General Treasurer Gina Raimondo (D) ordered new estimates of the state's pension liability. Finding that the liability increased from $4.9 billion to $7.3 billion, Raimondo pushed the issue to the top of the agenda.[14] Raimondo and Chafee introduced a complicated plan to deal with the issue, which met with bipartisan support in both chambers and was passed in November 2011.[15]


On the morning on November 16, 2010, Chafee, still the governor-elect, announced former Lieutenant Governor of Rhode Island Richard Licht as his nominee for Director of Administration.[16][17]



See also: Lincoln Chafee presidential campaign, 2016


  • On April 9, 2015, Lincoln Chafee announced that he was considering a run for president in 2016. He launched an exploratory committee.
    • In the interview, Chafee expressed concern over the options available to Democratic voters, "The Republicans have lots of choices, I feel that Democratic voters deserve choices too."[18] He also criticized Hillary Clinton's foreign policy, "I would argue that anybody who voted for the Iraq War should not be president, and certainly anybody who voted for the Iraq War should not lead the Democratic Party into an election."[19]


See also: Rhode Island gubernatorial election, 2014

Chaffee was eligible for re-election in 2014, and the Republican-turned-Independent governor was expected to run for a second term on the Democratic ticket, but announced on September 4, 2013, that he would not be running in order to focus on governing. "I want to devote all my time, all my energy, to the task at hand," he stated.[6][3]

Until officially switching his party affiliation on May 30, 2013, Chafee was the country's only sitting Independent governor.[20] He endorsed former Senate colleague Barack Obama for President in 2008 and 2012, but the main reason Chafee cited for changing to a major party affiliation was the need to finance a competitive re-election campaign. "There is no independent governors association throwing money around ... but there is a Democratic Governors Association," he told The Associated Press in December 2012. Reaffirming his concerns, a report released by Governing in December 2012 named Chafee as one of five governors considered vulnerable to losing re-election in 2013-2014.[21][1]


See also: Rhode Island gubernatorial election, 2010 and Gubernatorial elections, 2010

Chafee faced Frank T. Caprio (D), John F. Robitaille (R), Ken Block (Moderate), Ronald Algieri (I), Todd Giroux (I), and Joseph M. Lusi (I) in the general election on November 2, 2010.[22]

Governor of Rhode Island, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Frank T. Caprio 23% 78,896
     Republican John F. Robitaille 33.6% 114,911
     Independent Green check mark transparent.pngLincoln Chafee 36.1% 123,571
     Moderate Ken Block 6.5% 22,146
     Independent Ronald Algieri 0.2% 793
     Independent Todd Giroux 0.3% 882
     Independent Joseph M. Lusi 0.3% 1,091
Total Votes 342,290

Full history

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Chafee is available dating back to 2010. Based on available campaign finance records, Chafee raised a total of $3,055,383 during that time period. This information was last updated on May 11, 2013.[25]

Lincoln Chafee's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Governor of Rhode Island Not up for election $424,467
2010 Governor of Rhode Island Won $2,630,916
Grand Total Raised $3,055,383


Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Lincoln Chafee's donors each year.[26] Click [show] for more information.

Recent news

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See also

External links

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  1. 1.0 1.1 Politico, "Lincoln Chafee switches affiliation to Democrat," May 30, 2013
  2. Rhode Island Governor, "About," accessed November 3, 2012
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3, "RI Gov. Chafee poised to join Democrats," May 30, 2013 (dead link)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Chaffee for Governor, "About," accessed November 3, 2012
  5. The Associated Press, "RI Gov. Chafee open to running for 2nd term as Dem," December 14, 2012
  6. 6.0 6.1 ABC News, "RI Gov. Lincoln Chafee Won't Run for 2nd Term," September 4, 2013
  7. Politico, "Lincoln Chafee switches affiliation to Democrat," May 30, 2013
  8. Brown Political Review, "BPR Talks with Gov. Lincoln Chafee (Video)," May 22, 2013
  9. Governor Elect Chafee, "Biographies: Chafee Transition Leadership Team, Transition Advisory Committee," November 8, 2010
  10. RI Government, "Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee Names Three New Members of Transition Leadership Team," November 17, 2010
  11. The Business Journals, "Governors and jobs: How governors rank for job creation in their states," June 27, 2013
  12. The Business Journals, "How state governors rank on their job-growth record," June 27, 2013
  13. Mike Stenhouse, Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, "Corporate Tax Cut is Not a Game-Changer for RI," January 17, 2013
  14. National Review, "Rhode Island’s Pension Reform, Plus Thoughts on Sustainable Victories," November 18, 2011
  15. Huffington Post, "Rhode Island Pension Reform Bill Heads To Legislative Vote Next Week ," November 11, 2011
  16. RI Government, "Media Advisory: Chafee to Announce Nominee for Director of Administration This Morning—11/16/2010," November 16, 2010
  17. RI Government, "Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee Announces Richard Licht as Choice for DOA Director—11/15/2010," November 15, 2010
  18. Rhode Island Public Radio, "Lincoln Chafee Considers Run For 2016 Democratic Presidential Nomination," April 9, 2015
  19. Politico, "Lincoln Chafee: Hillary 'should not be president,'" April 9, 2015
  20. Brown Political Review, "BPR Talks with Gov. Lincoln Chafee (Video)," May 22, 2013
  21. Governing Politics, "2013-2014 Governor's Races: Who's Vulnerable?," December 11, 2012
  22. AP election guide - Hosted by NPR, "Rhode Island State Profile," accessed February 4, 2013
  23. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 7, 2006," accessed March 28, 2013
  24. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 7, 2000," accessed March 28, 2013
  25. Follow the Money, " Career fundraising for Lincoln Chafee," accessed May 11, 2013
  26. Follow the, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015
Political offices
Preceded by
Donald Carcieri (R)
Governor of Rhode Island
2011 - 2015
Succeeded by
Gina Raimondo (D)