During one of Lincoln Chafee's last news conferences as a US senator, he faced the inevitable questions about his political future. Noting how he had bought a home near Brown University, the Republican joked that he would run in 2010 to be the mayor of Providence.
Was Chafee serious?
Currently ensconced at Brown's Watson Institute, Chafee last week told me, "I'm very happy doing what I'm doing." Asked if he was gravitating toward running for mayor of Providence, he says, "This is all four years away. It's way too early."
Political junkies have been intrigued by the possibility of a rematch, for governor, between Chafee and Steve Laffey, his 2006 GOP primary opponent. Chafee's response to another question, however, suggests that this may not be in the cards.
Asked what he thinks Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian will do in 2010, Chafee says he expects his mayoral successor to "probably run for governor." Chafee went so far as to say, "At this stage, I'd encourage him to think about [running for] governor." Avedisian, who served as a Senate page to the late US Senator John Chafee, has close ties to the Chafee family, as well as to some Democrats, including Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts. Chafee says a primary between Avedisian and himself "will not happen, from my perspective."
Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline seems likely to make a move for another office in 2010, although this will also depend on the field and on which offices are open. If Cicilline leaves City Hall, the short list of possible successors might include Steve Costantino, chairman of the House Finance Committee; House Majority Leader Gordon Fox; Ward 12 Councilor Terry Hassett, the council majority leader; and Ward 7 Councilman John Igliozzi.
Running for mayor might seem counter-intuitive for Chafee. Then again, he retains considerable goodwill, would run well in a number of neighborhoods, particularly the East Side, and he could be the first Republican since Buddy Cianci to have a good shot of taking City Hall.