Charles Lippitt Gov of Rhode Island, Democratic candidates 2016, Henry Lippitt, Hillary Clinton, John L H Chafee, Lincoln Chafee, Lincoln Chafee 2016, Rhode Island politics, US Presidential election 2016, William Howard Taft
Former Rhode Island Governor, Lincoln Chafee had only just formed an exploratory committee for examining the possibility of his running for President in 2016 when he seems to have blurted out his intentions on CNN on Thursday. And “That’s why I’m running” he said.
A tsunami of indifference swept social media with the most in-depth enquiries being to ask who he was. The only salient point which seasoned observers might gather from all this was the simple hunger of Democrats for a challenger to emerge against Hillary.
Lincoln Chafee might pass muster. He is still only 62 and thus some years younger than Hillary. He has been a Senator, albeit that Senators do not normally do well in Presidential races. He has been a Governor and a Mayor of Warwick Rhode Island.
He has the family background too. Chafee is solid old blue blood of the first water; an oligarch to his toes. William Howard Taft 27th Presiden’st sister in law married Henry Lippitt the US Senator for Rhode Island. Henry was the son of Henry Lippitt Governor of Rhode Island. Being Governor of Rhode Island is a staple in this family. A brother of Henry junior, Charles Lippitt was also Governor of Rhode Island and a failed candidate for Republican Vice President.
A sister married Lincoln’s great grandfather and their grandson John Chafee was (you will never guess) also Governor of Rhode Island and a US Senator. Lincoln is John Chafee’s son and seems determined to have his shot at a place in the sun.
The family continue to keep close ties with their Taft relatives and Lincoln is a cousin to William Taft IV a former presidential legal adviser.
But there are problems. Lincoln Chafee only became a Democrat in 2013 long after his being a Republican Senator and an Independent Governor. He runs the risk of being considered a carpet-bagger.
Add into this the problem that outside Rhode Island (not exactly a large State) there is the” how did he do?” question. His running of Rhode Island was not without its detractors. The highlights of his mediocre performance were the highest per capita unemployment in the nation since 2008, and a demeaning personal vendetta with his detractors. There was also the little matter of an under-funded state pension disaster unparalleled in the U.S.. That said, he comes over as a decent sort, true not over-burdened with wit or acumen, but a credible candidate free from scandal and corruption.
Lincoln Chafee is little regarded on the wider political circuit, he does not have the profile of say Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren for instance. And that lack of profile leads to the big question of “Who is going fund Lincoln?” Lincoln doesn’t have money of his own to play at this level and he is not likely to get much more towards the billion-plus dollars needed to become such a credible player.
With all this against him why would he do it? Well there are whispers in the Democratic camp that this must not be seen as a simple coronation for Hillary. At the very least there should be the semblance of challenge, lest the fact the whole charade is a fix is given away. Lincoln Chafee fits this bill quite nicely. He is a well bred stalking horse who can be trusted to behave himself and do as he is told, and who once the Primary season is over can be relied on to gracefully fold, and hand over his support to Hillary.
Perhaps then Lincoln can gain what Charles Lippitt never achieved a chance to become – Vice President.
We could be looking at the Blond leading the Bland.
Copyright David Macadam 2015