PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A snapshot of former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who is expected to announce Wednesday in Arlington, Virginia, that he is running for the Democratic presidential nomination:
Lincoln Chafee has built a reputation as a contrarian in a career that has included holding office as a Republican and as an independent. In the Senate, Chafee often clashed with fellow Republicans during the administration of President George W. Bush, then left the party after he lost his bid for re-election in 2006. Elected governor in 2010 as an independent, Chafee found it difficult to build coalitions among the two parties in the statehouse and did not seek another term in 2014.
His decision to explore a presidential campaign has perplexed many Democrats. Rhode Island Democratic state Rep. Mia Ackerman said she couldn't imagine anyone not being surprised, because there was "no buzz, no whispers, nothing."
Chafee hails from a prominent Rhode Island political family. His late father was a U.S. senator and governor and he has at least two other Rhode Island governors and a U.S. senator in his family tree. Chafee got his start in politics as a member of the Warwick, Rhode Island, city council, and served as mayor during the 1990s. He was appointed to the Senate when his father, Sen. John Chafee, died in office. The younger Chafee won the seat outright in 2000. Chafee was defeated by Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse in 2006, but he resurrected his career as an independent, winning the governor's office in 2010. Facing poor approval ratings, he became a Democrat in 2013 but opted not to seek re-election.