Chafee as Check on Democrats?

Congressional Quarterly has a piece on the nascent Rhode Island gubernatorial race, with a focus on Lincoln Chafee's all-but-official independent candidacy.

The piece notes Rhode Island's penchant for electing Republican governors and suggests that the public may have voted GOP at the top of the ticket, in the past, in a bid to check a state legislature long dominated by Democrats.

Chafee's campaign manager James DeRentis picks up on the theme in the story, arguing that absent a strong GOP contender this time around, Chafee could represent the balance Rhode Island voters have long sought.

“I think the Republican Party is less viable here than it once was, and an independent candidate like Linc Chafee represents a real check to electing another Democrat to the governor’s office,” said Chafee’s campaign manager, James DeRentis.

There may be something to that. Indeed, public anger around Rhode Island's economy and budget could have voters angrier at the local Dems than usual. But there were other factors in Republican victories of the past - namely weak Democratic candidates. And the two leading Dems this time around, General Treasurer Frank T. Caprio and Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch, are both formidable candidates.

Of course, the presence of two strong Dems does have its advantages for Chafee - Caprio and Lynch can be expected to inflict some significant wounds on each other before the general election rolls around.


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