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Lincoln Chafee, Democrat in Denial

12:55 PM, Feb 19, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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Writing at the American Spectator, WEEKLY STANDARD editorial assistant Ethan Epstein covers the curious case of Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island's independent governor, erstwhile Republican senator, and Democrat-in-denial:

Indeed, Lincoln Davenport Chafee, scion of the Chafee political dynasty, governor of Rhode Island since January 2011, and former United States senator, mayor, and farrier (he made horseshoes before entering politics), has shown an unusual affection for the sales tax. Far from wanting to curtail the levy, Chafee even suggests expanding it by slapping taxes on currently exempt items like medicine, groceries, and clothes. He also wants to raise the extant sales tax on services like restaurant meals—this despite the fact that some 80 percent of the public opposes such a move. 

But then Chafee’s career in the “family business” has been characterized by a certain indifference (if not outright disdain) for the concerns of the masses. This surely has something to with his upbringing; “Linc” is a bona fide blue blood. Now almost 60, Lincoln (he was named after Abraham) is the son of Rhode Island’s late longtime senator and governor John Chafee, who was in turn the great-nephew of Henry F. Lippitt, a U.S. senator representing Rhode Island in the 1910s. (Lippitt’s father, by the way, was governor of Rhode Island. His brother was too!) The Chafees are a classic Boston Brahmin clan; they were one of the first families to settle Hingham, Massachusetts, in the early 17th century, before moving south to Rhode Island.

Linc was reared in gilded circumstances: His father was elected governor of Rhode Island when he was just 10. He attended the ultra-elite Phillips Academy before taking a degree in classics at Brown. While his father, John, interrupted his undergraduate education in 1940 in order to join the Marines and serve in World War II in the Pacific theater, the younger Chafee took a different path. After graduating in 1975, he decided to pursue a vocation as a farrier, and for the next seven years crafted horseshoes at racetracks in Kentucky, Florida, and Canada.

In the mid-1980s, Chafee returned to Rhode Island. He was elected in 1985 to the Rhode Island Constitutional Convention and in 1986 to the city council of Warwick, Rhode Island’s second city. Then in 1992, he was elected to the first of four two-year terms as mayor. His connection to the by then legendary John Chafee surely didn’t hurt. Indeed, when being sworn in as mayor, Linc took the oath of office from his father.

Read the whole thing here.

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