- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 3, 2006

Sen. Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island Republican, says he will not follow the path of Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut by running as an independent if he loses his party’s Sept. 12 primary election against Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey.

“That’s off the boards,” Mr. Chafee said yesterday during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” “Technically, in Rhode Island, I cannot do it, but even if I could, I wouldn’t.”

Mr. Lieberman lost the Democratic primary last month to Ned Lamont, but is now running as independent. Mr. Lieberman holds a lead over Mr. Lamont because his support is strong among independents and the opposing party. “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos suggested that such a pattern could hold in Rhode Island.

A poll released last week by Rhode Island College shows Mr. Laffey, who describes himself as a “Reagan Republican,” holding a lead of 51 percent to 34 percent over Mr. Chafee, one of his party’s most liberal lawmakers.

Mr. Chafee brushed off questions about his apparent failure to connect with Republican primary voters, describing himself as a “traditional Republican” who would support a Republican leader in the Senate if he is re-elected.

“I’m fighting from within, speaking up in our caucuses, making my voice heard,” Mr. Chafee said. “I think I’ve been vindicated on a number of votes.”

Mr. Chafee voted against the war in Iraq and President Bush’s tax cuts. He voted in favor of federal funding for stem-cell research and against a constitutional amendment on the definition of marriage. However, Mr. Chafee has supported the administration on other contentious issues, including the nomination of John R. Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Despite trailing Mr. Laffey, Mr. Chafee has continued to receive the support of the major Republican organizations, including the National Republican Senatorial Committee. First lady Laura Bush has campaigned on his behalf.

When asked why Mr. Chafee has the support of the party establishment, Mr. Laffey said that “the last thing that Karl Rove and his buddies want, down in Washington, is a real reformer like me, someone who shakes things up, who has the ideas and the ability to implement real solutions.”

Mr. Laffey is running on a more conservative platform than that of Mr. Chafee. He has pledged to vote against any increases to the federal income tax, but Mr. Chafee has pointed out that as mayor, Mr. Laffey implemented tax increases and personally invested in a private stem-cell research company.

Mr. Laffey explained his support for tax increases by noting that Cranston was on the verge of bankruptcy when he took office, leaving him no real choice but to raise taxes to generate revenue and avert that threat.

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