What a long, strange trip is has been… and it isn’t over. Apparently, former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee has launched an exploratory campaign to consider a run for president in 2016. Some people think it’s downright crazy -- and others are not all that surprised. After four years in the Rhode Island State House marred by controversies over Christmas trees and staggering unemployment, Chafee now has his eyes on a bigger house, the White House.
Chafee has already been reminding not just Rhode Island but America that as a senator he voted against the Iraq war. He also said he has exercised good decisions as both senator and governor. Which is funny because it almost seems like the Republican turned Independent turned Democrat had a tough time make decisions, such as what party should I belong to. Chafee did champion gay marriage as Governor of Rhode Island but that is not going to be enough to overcome the sluggish state economy and the budget deficit he left behind.
Most think that Lincoln Chafee is not likely to win an election for president and Lincoln Chafee must understand that it is extremely difficult for a person from a small state to be elected President when they are facing off against candidates with the backings of larger states with significantly more Electoral College votes. So why then would a governor who seemed so uncomfortable in the spot light is now catapult himself onto the national stage. Maybe it is an ego thing, maybe it is a Washington thing, and maybe he truly honestly believes he knows best. Chafee always sort of has that attitude that he knew best and was making the best decisions despite criticisms. Chafee is also really connected in Washington and is friendly with the president.
He's your problem now!
The Chafee exploratory campaign is in some ways good news for the Rhode Island Republican Party. First off, Chafee is not their problem anymore and second off, if Chafee does anything publically that raises eyebrows nationally that will now reflect back on the Democratic Party not the Republicans. There is no way that Chafee will be in the national spotlight without some sort of media blunder. Chafee struggled with the Rhode Island media and now he has put himself on a national stage with very experienced journalists who are likely the tear him apart if he does or says the wrong thing. The question is when will that happen and will it all come back to Rhode Island, to once again make little Rhody the laughing stock of the country.
Maybe people will stop thinking this is Long Island
The positive thing about Chafee’s exploratory committee for Rhode Island is that it does put the Ocean State on the map and since Chafee looks at the state through rose color glasses and overlooks the poverty and devastated economy, it is likely he will spend time highlighting some of the more positive things about Rhode Island on the national scale.
Some Rhode Islanders are just shocked that Chafee would even consider a run for president but truthfully the run is not that outlandish. Chafee has served as a mayor, Senator, and Governor. He has substantial Washington connections including with the president, he comes from a political family, and he has money. Maybe he doesn’t think he will be president but is instead using this campaign to launch himself into a lofty cabinet position or high-end Washington job. Then Chafee will be waving good bye to the struggling ocean state and returning to a life of high-end fundraisers and cocktail parties in Washington. Who would be the winner then?
Following Chafee’s announcement, the playing field for the 2016 presidential race continues to shape up. The worst kept secret ever is no longer a secret, Hilary Clinton is running for President. She made the announcement in a YouTube video over the weekend. Hilary’s video was two minutes long talking about all these middle class Americans and their plans in 2016. Her video was in stark contrast to Chafee’s announcement, which is centered around Chafee and his specific message. Chafee’s announcement is much more focused on introducing Chafee and his idead while Hilary’s starts to set the tenure and tone of her campaign. Of course, we all knew this was coming since her lost to Barack Obama in 2009, but now it is official and right out of the box Clinton is showing what a skilled politician she is. While Chafee has already launched the offensive against Clinton criticizing her and even comparing her foreign policy to George W. Bush, the two videos show the reality. One candidatehas politics down to an art and is ready for prime time, and the other guy's from Rhode Island.
Be excellent to each other, and parti-san
On the Republican side it is expected that Marco Rubio will be making an announcement soon about his intentions and then the real partisan fun can begin.
Locally, it will be interesting to see where Governor Raimondo throws her support. Hilary campaigned for Raimondo but Chafee is from Rhode Island and is technically a member of her party. Also, if former Governor O’Malley runs for president, Raimondo’s loyalties may be torn since she has been outspoken in her support for O’Malley. I think it is fair to say Raimondo won’t be endorsing Chafee anytime soon but the Chafee factor does make for an interesting dynamic among Rhode Island Democrats.
Melted budget in Cranston
Meanwhile locally, Allan Fung is requesting more money for snow removal in next year’s budget. Good for the Cranston Mayor for planning ahead but let's hope he is wrong and doesn’t need all that money after all. The mayor is looking for a 14% increase in the budget in order to buy trucks to deal with snow cleanup next year. This year, as the state was buried in snow, Cranston overspent it’s snow budget by almost $500,000.
But you've still got Taylor Swift
Down in Westerly, the town manager has had enough. Michelle Buck announced her resignation last week citing reasons of health, happiness and professional career. Funny, I guess she doesn’t see Rhode Island politics as a gateway to the White House as some others in the state.
We didn't start the Friar
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Providence College has a major win this week as the men’s hockey team became national champions for the first time. This is at least some positive news in the Ocean State. Congrats to PC. We don’t have the Bruins this year, but we do have the Friars.
See you next week!