In a move that surprised many but shocked almost no one, first-term Governor Chafee announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election next year.
Chafee, who still has more than a year left in office, has been plagued by low job-approval numbers and what he described Wednesday as “irrational negativity” around his stances on issues big and small, from drivers’ licenses for undocumented immigrants to what he called the State House Christmas tree.
But he told reporters those were not the reasons he decided to bow out of a potentially heated primary race against two of the rising stars in the Democratic Party: state Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras.
Chafee, 60, said he wanted to finish his term focused on “the issues that Rhode Islanders care about,” rather than a “very, very time-consuming campaign.”
“We have our challenges in Rhode Island and I want to devote all my time and energy to those challenges,” he told reporters at a midday news conference, outside the Division of Motor Vehicles.
As an example, he said: “It is unacceptable that we are still at 8.9 percent unemployment, the highest in New England. And if I am going to be running for office, and trying to address these challenges, I don’t think that is fair to the Rhode Island taxpayers and the Rhode Island workers.”