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Is Lincoln Chafee the New Joe Lieberman?


Even though the Universities of Connecticut and Rhode Island square off in one of college football’s first games of the 2006 season this Thursday, the real battle between these neighboring states is between political extremists and the measure of success will be whom can inflict the greatest damage to their political party.
Some political observers are starting to draw comparisons between the Senatorial primaries of Connecticut’s Joe Lieberman and Rhode Island’s Lincoln Chafee.
Earlier this month, the Senator from Connecticut was defeated in the Democratic Party by anti-war liberal Ned Lamont.
On September 12, Rhode Island’s Republican Senator, Lincoln Chafee faces a stiff primary challenge by Stephen Laffey, a right-wing conservative upset over Chafee’s positions on tax cuts, environmental policies and gay marriage, among many things.
Unlike Lieberman – a Democrat incumbent running in a heavily Democratic state – Chaffee is being challenged in a State where Republican voters make up only 70,000 of the 430,000 voters.
Yet this is a closed primary* – only Republicans will be choosing between Chafee and Laffey. If the race were in Texas, Lincoln Chafee would be looking for a job right now – but there remains a good chance that Rhode Island Republicans will be as pragmatic as those in California who chose not to challenge the vehemently centrist Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006.
But while the media will draw comparisons between Chafee and Lieberman in the next two weeks, there is one “X-factor” that they will not mention…
The third estate is not rooting against Chafee like they did against Lieberman. You’ll see less national attention on this race – less of a boost for Laffey than Lamont. And that’s where the parallels between Lincoln Chafee and Joe Lieberman fall apart.
* Clarification: Reader Bill Brittingham writes in to correct me: “the Rhode Island Republican primary isn’t closed. Independents can vote too. That, apparently, is what Chafee is counting on – not the pragmatism of the Republican base.” Agreed that both should be factored in–along with the media not rushing in to support Laffey like they did for Lamont.

Share  Posted by Scott Olin Schmidt at 1:38 PM | Permalink

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