John Chafee

Cade Tompkins Projects

Lincoln Chafee’s announcement that he is seriously considering a campaign for the 2016 Democratic presidential  nomination brings to mind sports broadcaster Al Michaels’ famous call from the USA hockey team’s upset victory over the USSR in the 1980 winter Olympics: Do you Believe in Miracles?

That’s pretty much what is would take for Chafee to move into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in January 2017.

Tomorrow is primary election day in the Ocean State. More than 700,000 of us are registered to vote. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay worries that too many won’t show up. (This is Scott's essay that airs Monday on RIPR).

Election Day was once a grand pageant. It was both spectator and participant sport. In the words  of Theodore White, the noted chronicler of mid-20th century American politics, decision day was a ``great stirring.’’

It was an improbable tableaux that unfolded in a hotel overlooking Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont, on the afternoon of May 24, 2001: A man so unassuming he was known as `Geesum Jim’, from a state of scant consequence in American politics, changed the course of the most powerful government on earth merely by saying he no longer believed in the Republican Party he grew up in.

That was the day then-U.S. Sen. James M. Jeffords, universally known as ``Jim’’ stood in a hotel ballroom and told the world why he was leaving the Republican Party to caucus with U.S. Senate Democrats.

At the behest of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Cale Keable, D-Burrillville, the Rhode Island House has finally voted to ratify the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,  which reqired direct election of U.S. Senators.

Before the amendment took effect in 1913, senators were elected by state legislators. That system was widely criticized for breeding corruption as senate aspirants bribed lawmakers to secure the votes needed to win senate seats.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

Rhode Island pays its final respects this morning to Nuala Pell, widow of  Sen. Claiborne Pell at services in Newport. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on why the passing of Mrs. Pell signals the end of an era.

Sen. Claiborne Pell represented Rhode Island for 36 years in the United States Senate. Few senators have ever better served a state.

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