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Chafee’s Parting Shot

“If he’s so eager to take on liberal Democrats in the general election, [Sen.] Jack Reed is up,” Chafee said in an interview. “He can go get his signatures against Jack Reed and we’ll see if he can break 20 percent.”

Laffey took 46 percent against Chafee and forced him to spend precious funds he needed for the general election.

“It was a money issue,” Chafee said. With a September primary, “the Democrats just sat back, and the day after the primary, my supporters were saying, ‘Linc, I see five Democratic ads for every one of yours.’ It was hard.”

Considering the difficulty Chafee was having with Republicans both in Washington and Rhode Island, wouldn’t it have been easier to run for re-election as a Democrat?

Chafee, who formally left the Republican party shortly after his defeat, said he considered it, but he feared that his punishment for leaving the party would be Rhode Island getting a raw deal with the 2005 highway bill and a military closure bill. That, and support from then-Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the NRSC kept him in the Republican fold.

Chafee said he’s enjoying being back home in Rhode Island. He is a fellow at Brown University, his alma mater, and taught a course on foreign affairs.

He said he’s just starting to think about a possible return to politics.

“Rhode Island’s a small state, and just going to the market and getting your gasoline or walking down the street, people say favorable things and urge me to reconsider doing something political,” Chafee said. “I’d say there’s still some good will.”

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