Lincoln Davenport Chafee

Contact Information

Telephone:401-222-2080 (Main phone number)
Telephone:401-456-0003 (Main campaign number)
Campaign finance

Candidate Background

Birth place:Providence, RI
Residence:Warwick, RI
First Elected: 


Status:Not seeking re-election
Next Election:2014

Undergraduate education: Brown University


Lincoln Chafee was born in Providence, R.I., and currently lives in Warwick. He received a bachelor's degree from Brown University.

He is a member of one of Rhode Island's best-known political families. His father, John Chafee, was a Republican governor and a U.S. senator. His family tree also includes at least two other governors and a U.S. senator.

Chafee was appointed to finish out his father's Senate term after the elder Chafee died in 1999. Lincoln Chafee won election to a full term in 2000 but was defeated in 2006. He also served as a city councilman and mayor of Warwick.

He was elected Rhode Island governor as an independent in November 2010.

Chafee was once a professional farrier, caring for horses on harness racetracks in the United States and Canada.

Chafee and his wife, Stephanie, have three children.


Lincoln Chafee is the nation's only independent governor.

Among Chafee's biggest accomplishments is the 2011 passage of a sweeping overhaul of the state's pension system, intended to save billions of dollars in future years by suspending retiree pension increases, raising the retirement age and creating a new benefit plan combining traditional pensions with 401(k)-style accounts. Public-sector unions have challenged the legislation in court.

He also has pushed for changes in municipalities' pension systems.

Chafee was a harsh critic during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign of a $75 million state loan guarantee given to a video game company owned by former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2012. Schilling blamed Chafee for saying publicly that the company was on the rocks, but Chafee has said financial reviews and court testimony will show he is not responsible for the company's collapse.

Chafee also engaged in a legal battle with the U.S. Justice Department over whether a man accused of murder during a bank heist will stand trial in federal or state court. Federal authorities want to pursue the death penalty for Jason Pleau. Chafee objected, saying Rhode Island has ended the death penalty. The U.S. Supreme Court, in May 2012, denied Chafee and Pleau's request to delay the proceedings.

In June 2012, Chafee signed a bill decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.

In February 2012, he helped broker a deal between the city of Providence and Brown University, Chafee's alma mater, which agreed to pay the city $31.5 million more over the next 11 years in lieu of taxes.

During his run for the governor's office, he proposed a 1 percent sales tax on items that are exempt from the state's 7 percent sales tax, including farm equipment, groceries and prescription drugs. The proposal was unpopular, but he won the governor's seat anyway in a hard-fought, four-person race that included one Democrat, one Republican, one Moderate and the independent Chafee.

His 2010 gubernatorial campaign was the first time he was making a run for office without a party structure to support him. Chafee is independently wealthy and he largely self-funded his campaign, giving himself more than $800,000.

Chafee was the Republican mayor of Warwick in 1999 when his father announced he would not run for re-election to the Senate. John Chafee died later that year, and the younger Chafee was appointed to fill his seat. He won re-election the following year.

During his time in Washington, Chafee became known as one of the most liberal Republican members of the Senate. He voted against the war in Iraq and did not vote to re-elect President George W. Bush in 2004, casting a write-in vote for Bush's father instead.

In 2006, despite having broken with his party on several major issues and having survived a brutal primary with a candidate far to the right, Chafee lost re-election to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse in a race seen as a referendum on Republicans in Congress.

He left the party the following year, becoming an independent. He endorsed then-Sen. Barack Obama for president in 2008.

Although he was formerly a Republican, Chafee has gained the support of many liberal groups.

He has been an environmental advocate and in 2010 had the endorsement of groups including Defenders of Wildlife. He supports allowing same-sex couples to marry, an important issue to progressives in Rhode Island. He also had the support of several labor unions.

American Conservative Union Rating: Not rated

Americans for Democratic Action Rating: Not rated


Lincoln Chafee is not seeking re-election in 2014.

(Last updated by The Associated Press on September 10, 2014.)

Last updated 3:16pm March 1, 2018