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Linc Chafee on Why He Almost Joined the Green Party

Lincoln Chafee has officially--finally--announced his candidacy for the governorship of Rhode Island. Last year, I spoke with him about his decision to leave the Republican Party in 2007 and become an Independent. He explained that he originally wanted to "energize a moribund party or start a new one"--and that he had pondered running for governor as a Green, a Libertarian, or even as a candidate of the Progressive Party:

I asked, is there a party out there that's got some roots in the ground? I looked at the Progressive Party from the 1920s. … The Greens were attractive to me. So often, you'd run into elected Greens from around the world. There's no other party that's got such an international scope. They're in Argentina, France, Germany. I thought it was intriguing. The Libertarians--their preference for keeping small government, I found attractive. Staying away from the social issues. Pro-choice. … The Progressive Party. I don't know much about it, but I like the name. It's got a forward motion to it, obviously. It's got some nice syllables that have some teeth to them. Progressive, progressive, forward moving.

But, Chafee said, his political backers convinced him to shelve his dream. "Ultimately, to be successful and raise money--my advisers and friends are saying here in Rhode Island that it's a tough state, and you don't want to be inviting questions that will require too much explaining," he said. "It's still a nagging thing. Angus King in Maine was elected governor as an Independent. He was well-liked and he did his two terms, but he left no legacy. You don't leave behind an apparatus. That's still in the back of my mind."

Click here to read Michael Crowley's profile of Chafee from 2005.