If you’ve been following the news lately, you maybe – just maybe – have heard of Lincoln Chafee. He’s one of several candidates running for the Democratic presidential nomination, but has had trouble gaining publicity in a race that has been dominated on the Democratic side by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. And if he plans to rise in the polls, he better shine during Tuesday night's CNN debate. 

Chafee, who had been mayor of Warwick, Rhode Island, came to Washington in 1999 as a Republican U.S. senator, appointed to replace his father, John Chafee, after his death. Chafee was notably the only Republican senator to vote against the 2002 resolution that authorized war in Iraq, and was repeatedly an outlier in his party, opposing tax cuts and his party’s budget plan.

After losing a bid for re-election in the Senate in 2006, Chafee abandoned the Republican Party and was elected as an independent governor of Rhode Island in 2010. Then-Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, also running now as a Democratic presidential candidate, sought to persuade Chafee to switch parties, but Chafee didn't give in until 2013, according to NPR. Even before then, however, Chafee was a supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, and served as a co-chairman of Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012. He did not run for re-election in 2014.

If elected president, he has vowed to address corporate tax evasion, end U.S. drone strikes and tackle climate change. He supports raising the minimum wage and a guest-worker program with a path toward citizenship for immigrants illegally in the country.



Chafee is viewed as an extreme long shot, and along with O'Malley had less than 0.5 percent support, according to a recent CBS poll. He has struggled to stand out in the race, but has pointed to a unique, transformative experience he had after graduating college that distinguishes him from other candidates. Chafee learned about horse-shoeing while studying at Montana State University in Bozeman, and then spent seven years working at horse racing tracks around North America. “It was life-altering,” Chafee said, according to the Washington Post. “The confidence it gave me has served me for the rest of my career.”