Tags: chafee | political | party | switch

Chafee Party Switch Is Political Crapshoot

Thursday, 30 May 2013 04:14 PM

By John Gizzi

In switching to the Democratic Party on Wednesday, Rhode Island's independent Gov. Lincoln Chafee, a former Republican, has come full swing politically, but history suggests retaining his office could be tough sledding after changing parties.

Chafee was a liberal Republican who succeeded his late father John in the Senate and served until his own defeat in 2006, then became an independent who supported Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

As much as he was welcomed to his new political home by the president, the 60-year-old Chafee runs a big risk: converts are not historically welcomed to the Democratic Party.

The last two members of Congress who switched from Republican to Democrat — the late Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania in 2009, and Rep. Mike Forbes of New York in 1997 — were both denied re-nomination to their respective offices when they ran as Democrats.

And former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican who became a Democrat last year, is expected to face a strong Democratic primary foe when he runs for his old job in 2014.

In Rhode Island, state Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, both Democrats, are said to be gearing up to run for the governorship.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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