Gov. Lincoln Chafee (D) “announced Wednesday that he will not seek reelection next year.” Chafee “has been plagued by low job-approval numbers and what he described Wednesday as ‘irrational negativity’ around his stances on issues big and small, from drivers’ licenses for undocumented immigrants to what he called the State House Christmas tree.”
Chafee: “We have our challenges in Rhode Island and I want to devote all my time and energy to those challenges.” Asked if he thought he would’ve won a second term, Chafee said: “I do. … But the main thing is that you can’t be doing two jobs well at the same time, especially with the situation we have here in Rhode Island … when you are looking at an election, sometimes you make compromises that might not be made if you weren’t involved in a campaign. … I think if you were going to look up ‘principled leader’ in the dictionary, you’d see a picture of Linc Chafee.”
Brown University professor Wendy Schiller: “I think he realized he couldn’t win and I think he’d rather spend the next year and half doing some good for the state than waging a losing battle.” (Providence Journal)
DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY BATTLE: Chafee’s decision leaves a likely two-way Democratic primary battle between General Treasurer Gina Raimondo (D) and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras (D). Neither has officially launched a campaign yet, but both Democrats have been preparing for gubernatorial runs behind the scenes. Cranston Mayor Allan Fung (R) is expected to launch a bid for the GOP nomination, while Moderate Party founder Ken Block is the only candidate officially in the race. (WPRI-TV)
Taveras probably stands to benefit most from Chafee’s exit. The state’s public employee unions, some of whom backed Chafee’s independent bid in 2010, will likely unite behind the Providence mayor. Raimondo, who will start the race with a huge fundraising edge, alienated the unions with her landmark pension reforms, and the labor movement will spend heavily in an attempt to block her path to the nomination.
— Kevin Brennan