The Nation Is Losing Its Only Independent Governor

Lincoln Chafee. Photo: Alex Wong/2012 Getty Images

Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee was a Republican when he served in the U.S. Senate, but on Thursday the Independent governor of Rhode Island will complete his political conversion and join the Democratic Party. The switch isn't a huge surprise, since Chafee has been discussing the possibility for months, spoke at the Democratic National Convention last year, and recently signed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. Chafee spokeswoman Christine Hunsinger said he's come to the realization that his beliefs align with those of the Democratic Party. “For anybody to imply that affiliating as a Democrat is simply about politics or about winning an election, doesn’t know Gov. Chafee," Hunsinger added — though the fact that Chafee is facing a tough reelection in 2014 and could use an endorsement from his old Senate pal Barack Obama makes that point less convincing.