Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent, will join the Democratic Party ahead of his 2014 re-election bid in the heavily Democratic state, Politico reported Wednesday. The switch will complete Chafee’s political evolution from a Republican during his time in the U.S. Senate to an independent and finally a Democrat.
Plagued by low approval ratings, Chafee has publicly considered the switch for months and received encouragement from Democrats, including Vermont Gov. Pete Shumlin, head of the Democratic Governors Association, the Associated Press reported in March. The switch could land Chafee in a three-way primary with Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and state Treasurer Gina Raimondo, who are both eyeing 2014 challenges to him.
Chafee left the Republican Party in 2007 after losing his Senate seat to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, saying that the GOP had moved too far to the right. He supported Barack Obama in both the 2008 and 2012 elections, even speaking at the Democratic National Convention last fall.
Chafee will be the latest in a string of Republican politicians who have joined the Democrats, including former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and the late Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.