Chafee invited to Democratic National Convention

Aug 17, 2012

Gov. Lincoln Chafee will join such Rhode Island Democratic Party leaders as House Speaker Gordon Fox, Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte between September 4th to 6th.

Chafee, a Republican-turned-independent, has been invited to the convention because of his support for President Obama, says Democratic State Chairman Edwin Pacheco.

Chafee is one of 35 national “co-chairs’’ of Obama’s reelection campaign.

Pacheco said neither he nor other RI leaders had anything to do with inviting Chafee to the Democratic confab. “I wasn’t part of this conversation and it isn’t for me to decide,’’ said Pacheco. “If  the governor wants to go to Charlotte and support President Obama I don’t think that is a bad thing.’’

We are just about at the time in the presidential campaign cycle where Republicans and Democrats claim support from former party members who have seen the light and switched. It is time to drag out that hackneyed campaign chestnut, “I didn’t leave my party, my party left me.’’

Who can forget Georgia Democratic Gov. Zell Miller’s 2004 convention speech in favor of Republican candidate George Bush? (Does it seem like Scott Brown’s only campaign theme in his Massachusetts Senate race against Elizabeth Warren is that onetime Democrat Ray Flynn, a former Boston mayor and Providence Friar hoop star, is endorsing Brown over Warren. Flynn has endorsed Republican Brendan Doherty too, in the RI CD 1 congressional contest.)

Having Chafee at Obama’s Democratic convention serves as a reminder to voters that Republicans no longer value the moderate northeastern wing their own party and have ended up chasing centrist pols like Chafee out of the party. (Maybe Obama should invite retiring Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe too.)

On the other side, the Democratic Party shift leftward on social issues, particularly abortion and gay rights, has led to such prominent anti-abortion Democrats as Flynn to endorse Republicans.

It isn’t much, but Chafee attending the Democratic National Convention will at least give reporters something to nosh on at a convention where the news will be as dry as most of the farm belt has been this summer. If nothing else, the body language between Chafee and Raimondo might be fun to watch. Stay tuned.