DEM 2016 Debate

Democratic presidential candidates, from left, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee take the stage in 2015 before the CNN Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas.

A former Democratic presidential candidate, who now resides in Teton Village, has announced he will make a second bid for the White House in 2020.

Lincoln Chafee, who served as a U.S. senator for eight years and as governor of Rhode Island for four, on Sunday registered his campaign committee, “Lincoln Chafee For President,” with the Federal Election Commission.

Chafee and his wife, Stephanie, began spending more time in Jackson Hole after they purchased property in Teton Village in 2016, he said. The Teton County Clerk’s Office confirmed that he registered to vote in the county as a Libertarian in March.

Over the years he has also held office as a Republican and Independent. But when he was registering to vote in Teton County, he said, he surveyed the Libertarian platform and found it meshed well with his own beliefs.

Chafee was something of an outsider as a Republican senator, often siding against overwhelming majorities in his party, particularly on matters of social policy like gay marriage and abortion. He earned an endorsement from the Sierra Club for his environmental record, another rarity for his party at the time.

Historically, though, third-party candidates haven’t fared well in presidential elections, a fact Chafee acknowledged in a phone interview Monday with the Jackson Hole Daily.

“It’s a tough hill to climb,” he said. “But in 2020, with President Trump and everything that’s happening in the country, this might be the year where people really look favorably to third-party candidacy.”

Chafee made a short-lived run for president as a Democrat in 2015, when he was often referred to as a “long-shot candidate.” After gaining little traction, he withdrew from the race before the primaries. According to the Washington Post, he was polling at less than 1%.

He plans to formally announce his run Wednesday during a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. In the same conference, he’ll deliver an address condemning what he calls “senseless and counterproductive wars.” Ending the nation’s drawn-out, costly foreign entanglements is his primary policy focus, he said.

“I think this is the biggest one that affects our children and the next generation,” he said. “We’re just getting deeper and deeper into these conflicts. It’s poor decision-making that led to this escalation.”

In fact, he said, the recent release of the Afghan papers and other developments in the country’s overseas conflicts are what prompted him to finally declare his candidacy.

“That was the real motivator,” he said. “There’s got to be a voice in the public discourse, especially one that voted against the war in Iraq right in the beginning.”

Contact Cody Cottier at 732-5911, or @JHNGtown.

Cody Cottier covers town and state government. He grew up with a view of the Olympic Mountains, and after graduating Washington State University he traded it for a view of the Tetons. Odds are the mountains are where you’ll find him when not on deadline.

(2) comments


Not sure what makes him more appealing then the last time he ran. He sites the President as his reason, but fails to mention that the Democrats seem to have an endless supply of candidates currently and some of them have been running for more than a year. Is he seeing a deficiency here? Seems like he may not have finished his sentence. He is running against the strongest economy in history. It is firing on all cylinders. Robust economic output, lowest unemployment, much improved workforce participation and first improvement in average wages in 3 decades. The improved tax policy has greatly expanded the economy and raised everyone's standard of living. Let's face it, poor people don't come to Jackson Hole and the place is being trampled. Rhode Island did attract businesses granting tax breaks, so Chaffee does understand efficient taxation, he can't really criticize the current administration. He did it on a selective basis, but was badly burned by the 38 debacle which actually cost his taxpayers. Maybe not that efficient. So back to the question, why would people vote for him now?

Dakota Frommer

One advantage is that he is only 66 years old. SO many elderly candidates running....

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