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Lincoln Chafee

American politician and former United States Senator from Rhode Island

Lincoln Davenport Chafee (born March 26, 1953) is an American politician. He was the Governor of Rhode Island from 2011 to 2015. Before becoming governor, he was a junior U.S. Senator of Rhode Island from 1999 to 2007.

Lincoln Chafee
Lincoln Chafee official portrait.jpg
74th Governor of Rhode Island
In office
January 4, 2011 – January 6, 2015
LieutenantElizabeth H. Roberts
Preceded byDonald Carcieri
Succeeded byGina Raimondo
United States Senator
from Rhode Island
In office
November 4, 1999 – January 3, 2007
Appointed byLincoln Almond
Preceded byJohn Chafee
Succeeded bySheldon Whitehouse
Mayor of Warwick
In office
Preceded byCharles Donovan
Succeeded byScott Avedisian
Personal details
Lincoln Davenport Chafee

(1953-03-26) March 26, 1953 (age 66)
Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.
Political partyLibertarian (2019–present)[1]
Other political
Democratic (2013–2019)
Independent (2007–2013)
Republican (before 2007)
Spouse(s)Stephanie Chafee
Alma materBrown University
Montana State University, Bozeman

Early lifeEdit

Chafee was born in Providence, Rhode Island. His father, John Chafee, was also a Senator from Rhode Island and member of the liberal wing of the Republican Party. His mother was Virginia Coates. Chafee was raised in Warwick, Rhode Island. He studied at Brown University and at Montana State University.

Early careerEdit

Chafee entered politics in 1985 as a delegate to the Rhode Island Constitutional Convention. A year later, he was elected to the Warwick City Council, where he served until his election as Warwick's mayor in 1992, a post he held until his 1999 appointment to the U.S. Senate.

U.S. senator (1999-2007)Edit

After his father died in office, Chafee was appointed to fill his vacancy. He was elected to his first full term in 2000.

He was a very liberal Republican senator. He is strongly pro-choice and supports gay rights and gun control. He was the only Republican senator in 2002 to voted against war in Iraq. He was the only Republican United States senator to vote against authorizing the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein from power.[2]

In 2004, he did not endorse the reelection of President George W. Bush, and urged other Republicans to write-in in the November election George H. W. Bush, not his son. In January 2006, he was also the only Republican senator to vote against Samuel Alito to the United States Supreme Court.

He was defeated for re-election in the Senate in 2006 by Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse.

Governor of Rhode Island (2011-2015)Edit

Chafee's official portrait as governor

Chafee was elected as Governor of Rhode Island in 2010. He was sworn in on January 4, 2011. He became the first Independent to serve as Governor of Rhode Island since John Collins in 1790.

In 2012, he served as co-chair of Barack Obama's re-election campaign. Since then, he was a Democrat.

On May 1, 2013, Chafee signed a bill that legalized same-sex marriage in Rhode Island.[3]

Chafee has shown some willingness to deviate from strict "War on Drugs" policies, in favor of alternative approaches to America's drug-crime problem.[4]

On September 4, 2013, Chafee announced that he would not run for re-election as Governor of Rhode Island after months of low-approval ratings from the public and by election officials.

2016 presidential campaignEdit

On April 9, 2015, Chafee announced that he had formed an exploratory committee in preparation for a potential candidacy for President of the United States as a Democrat in 2016.[5] He formally declared his candidacy on June 3, 2015.

Following a widely panned debate performance, poor polling numbers, and a poor fundraising campaign, Lincoln Chafee announced on October 23 that he would be suspending his campaign.[6]

Personal lifeEdit

Chafee married Stephanie Chafee in January 1990. They have three children. He now lives in Teton Village, Wyoming.[7]


  1. "Ex-RI Politician Changes Political Parties – Again". NECN. June 6, 2019. Retrieved July 13, 2019.
  2. 5 Things You Should Know About Lincoln Chafee
  3. "No. 10: Rhode Island Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage". Advocate. May 2, 2013.
  4. Nadelmann, Ethan (December 27, 2010) Breaking the Taboo, The Nation
  5. Merica, Dan (April 9, 2015). "Lincoln Chafee launches 2016 exploratory committee, goes after Clinton on Iraq". Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  6. Merica, Dan; LoBianco, Tom (October 23, 2015). "Lincoln Chafee drops out of Democratic primary race". CNN. As you know, I have been campaigning on a platform of Prosperity Through Peace," Chafee said at the DNC's annual Women's Leadership Forum in Washington. "But after much thought I have decided to end my campaign for president today. I would like to take this opportunity one last time to advocate for a chance be given to peace.
  7. "Lincoln Chafee and family settling in Wyoming". Providence Journal. January 28, 2019.

Other websitesEdit

  Media related to Lincoln Chafee at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
John Chafee
U.S. Senator from Rhode Island
Succeeded by
Sheldon Whitehouse