Lincoln Chafee, in his official announcement of his independent run for governor, proposes that some items exempt from the sales tax - food, clothing, and over-the-counter drugs - be subject to a lower-level sales tax to help cure the state's fiscal woes.
He seems to be going for an Obamaesque straight-talk message. And if he strikes a chord in that way, it could pay off. But proposing a tax hike in a defining campaign kick-off speech poses serious political risks. And for a candidate who will probably need liberal support to win - particularly if Treasurer Frank Caprio wins the Democratic nomination and provides serious competition for centrist voters - proposing a regressive tax that weighs heavily on low-income families could pose problems.
And if he was counting on any lingering support from Republicans, after bolting the party, this proposal won't help his case.