Chafee, now Teton County resident, announces presidential bid

Lincoln Chafee, a former Republican U.S. senator and former Democratic candidate for president who now lives in Teton Village, has announced he will run for president again, this time as a Libertarian.

JACKSON — A former Democratic presidential candidate, who now resides in Teton Village, has announced he will make a second bid for the White House in 2020.

Lincoln Chafee, who served as a U.S. senator for eight years and as governor of Rhode Island for four, on Sunday registered his campaign committee, “Lincoln Chafee For President,” with the Federal Election Commission.

Chafee and his wife, Stephanie, began spending more time in Jackson Hole after they purchased property in Teton Village in 2016, he said. The Teton County Clerk’s Office confirmed that he registered to vote in the county as a Libertarian in March.

Over the years he has also held office as a Republican and Independent. But when he was registering to vote in Teton County, he said, he surveyed the Libertarian platform and found it meshed well with his own beliefs.

Chafee was something of an outsider as a Republican senator, often siding against overwhelming majorities in his party, particularly on matters of social policy like gay marriage and abortion. He earned an endorsement from the Sierra Club for his environmental record, another rarity for his party at the time.

Historically, though, third-party candidates haven’t fared well in presidential elections, a fact Chafee acknowledged in a phone interview Monday with the Jackson Hole Daily.

“It’s a tough hill to climb,” he said. “But in 2020, with President Trump and everything that’s happening in the country, this might be the year where people really look favorably to third-party candidacy.”

Chafee made a short-lived run for president as a Democrat in 2015, when he was often referred to as a “long-shot candidate.” After gaining little traction, he withdrew from the race before the primaries. According to the Washington Post, he was polling at less than 1%.

He plans to formally announce his run Wednesday during a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. In the same conference, he’ll deliver an address condemning what he calls “senseless and counterproductive wars.” Ending the nation’s drawn-out, costly foreign entanglements is his primary policy focus, he said.

“I think this is the biggest one that affects our children and the next generation,” he said. “We’re just getting deeper and deeper into these conflicts. It’s poor decision-making that led to this escalation.”

In fact, he said, the recent release of the Afghan papers and other developments in the country’s overseas conflicts are what prompted him to finally declare his candidacy.

“That was the real motivator,” he said. “There’s got to be a voice in the public discourse, especially one that voted against the war in Iraq right in the beginning.”