Now that he has lost his race for the US Senate, Lincoln Chafee (RI) is thinking of joining the Democrats.
Chafee lost to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse in a race seen as a referendum on President Bush and the GOP. On Thursday, he was asked whether he would stick with the Republican Party or become an independent or Democrat.
“I haven’t made any decisions. I just haven’t even thought about where my place is,” Chafee said at a news conference. When pressed on whether his comments indicated he might leave the GOP, he replied: “That’s fair.”
Chafee, 53, is a lifelong Republican who has represented Rhode Island for seven years. His father held the same seat for 23 years before that.
He is the most liberal Republican in the Senate and was the sole Senate Republican to vote against the war in Iraq. But that was not enough to prevail against Whitehouse, who shared many of Chafee’s views but was a Democrat in a heavily Democratic state.
Chafee said he has not decided what to do after leaving office, but he hoped to stay involved in public life. He said his loss may have helped the country by switching control of Congress.
The Republican Party (thanks to Elizabeth Dole) spent money to defend Chafee in a primary and then sunk more money to try to save him again. That was money that could’ve been used in other races or money that should’ve been used to recruit a credible challenger to Herb Kohl.