Chafee Decides Against U.S. Senate Run In 2018

May 29, 2018

Credit Ian Donnis / RIPR

Former U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee has decided against pursuing the post he lost to U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in 2006.

"Two of my favorite sayings are, 'Fortune favors the bold' and 'Discretion is the better part of valor.' The latter is true as to my plans. I will not be seeking elective office in 2018," Chafee said in a tweet.

Chafee, who previously flirted with a gubernatorial run this year. told RIPR he will not be seeking office in 2018.

The move comes after a poll commissioned by Whitehouse's campaign showed Whitehouse with a 58-point lead over Chafee. Chafee said his own polling reinforced the view that he would have a difficult challenge in trying to defeat Whitehouse.

In mulling a challenge to Whitehouse, Chafee pointed to how the two-term senator and other prominent Democrats sided with Hillary Clinton rather than Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential race. Now, though, Chafee said his polling indicates that Democrats want to move on.

"The Democratic Party, at this time, the sense I got [it] does not want to look back and have a discussion about what happened in 2016," he said. "They want to look forward and I understand that."

Chafee, a former Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat, said he's consistently voted for Democrats since his last switch in affiliation and that he'll be supporting Whitehouse for re-election.

Chafee did not close the door on running for office in the future, but the former Warwick mayor, U.S. senator and governor said he plans to focus on spending more time with his family.

"You never say never," he said regarding a possible future run. "I certainly am an honest person -- no one can argue with that. I have the experience. I don't think there's more than seven or eight Americans out of 250 million that have been a mayor, a U.S. senator and a governor, and I work hard, but we'll see what the future holds."

Chafee was selected to fill the remainder of his father's U.S. Senate term after John Chafee died in 1999. Lincoln Chafee won election in 2000 and gained notice as the only Senate Republican to vote against the war in Iraq. But Whitehouse beat Chafee in 2006, largely due to the unpopularity of President George W. Bush.

Running as an independent, Chafee won a narrow 2010 race for governor. His approval rating steadily fell amid the aftermath of the great recession and after becoming a Democrat, he decided against seeking re-election.

In 2016, Chafee ran what was largely seen as a quixotic campaign for president.

Chafee's decision to not run for the Senate was first reported by Go Local Prov.