Lincoln Chafee just dropped out of the Democratic primary race for President. Since he had very little chance of actually winning, there has been a lot of light-hearted commentary about his short-lived and under-funded candidacy.
I enjoyed watching his brief candidacy because we had Governor Chafee at SPA in May 2014. I interviewed him for a Buechner breakfast discussion, and he was the keynote speaker at our spring student graduation banquet. His office had called last fall, suggesting he wanted to come to Denver for a visit and liked to visit schools of public affairs. I wondered if he was planning a Presidential run, but it didn’t seem likely then. He was just stepping down as Governor of Rhode Island.
As with all out-of-town visitors, I was a bit worried he might not come at the last minute, and we would need a Plan B. But he came and was very generous with his time with our students and with the Buechner Breakfast First Friday audience. I was surprised how many ex-Rhode Islanders are in Denver, and came to his talk.
He was interesting as he talked about the 7 years he worked as a farrier, shoeing horses at race tracks around the US, before going back into the “family business” of Rhode Island politics. He talked about his journey from a Republican, to an independent, to a Democrat.
In any case, he was funny, charming and remarkably down-to-earth. His visit made me feel better about politicians. His Presidential race never took off – just as many Democratic and Republican candidates’ will not (but who would have predicted that Chafee would last longer than Scott Walker?). But, he got to talk to citizens about some ideas and add to the dialogue focused on improving America.