Witten by Samantha Turner
Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee has announced that he will not seek a second term in office.Chafee made the announcement Wednesday, Sept. 4, at the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles in Cranston, stating that he would rather focus on governing than running a political campaign to finish out his first term.
Chafee was elected in 2010, following a four-way race for governor. He was a former Republican U.S. senator, losing his seat to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. He then became an Independent in 2007. In May 2013, he changed his political affiliation to Democrat.
During his announcement, Chafee said he believes he would have won his bid for re-election in 2014 had he stayed in the race. Over the span of his time as governor, however, Chafee has experienced low approval ratings from Rhode Islanders.
Though he said he enjoyed his time as governor, he found the “irrational negativity” that came with running a state with high unemployment to be discouraging. He also pointed to other negative points, such as the holiday tree saga and his position on illegal immigration.
Chafee’s announcement shakes up the political stage for the 2014 election.
Fellow Democrats Gen. Treas. Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras have both been rumored to be considering a possible primary for governor. Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, a Republican, has also been rumored to be in the mix. Ken Block of the Moderate Party, who unsuccessfully ran for the position in 2010, is the only announced candidate as of this time.
At the press conference, Chafee declined to throw his support to any candidates, but said he would support the Democratic Party’s candidate in the upcoming race.
Despite the move to not seek re-election, the 60-year-old Chafee hinted that this may not necessarily be the end of his political career.
“I’m still a young kid,” he said.
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