Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee, who flirted with changing political parties in the wake of President Bush’s re-election victory, says he will stay in the GOP.
“My Republican colleagues have let me know that they want me in their caucus,” the Rhode Island senator said Monday. “They value the voice I bring and they have made it very clear to me that they respect and want that voice to be heard.”
Chafee had said last week he would consider switching party affiliation if Bush won because he felt the president was taking the party too far to the right. He said he got a flurry of phone calls from Republican leaders over the weekend, including Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and a key White House staff member, urging him to stick with the GOP.
A moderate Republican who often votes with the Democrats on environmental matters and some tax issues, Chafee said he wants to press his views from within the party. He said he will be able to better serve Rhode Island as a member of the party that controls Congress and the White House.
His decision preserves the 55-44-1 Republican advantage that resulted from last Tuesday’s elections. Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont had earlier switched from Republican to independent.
Chafee spokesman Stephen Hourhan said he was not aware if Republican leaders offered the senator anything in order to secure his loyalty.
A member of one of the state’s better known Republican families, Chafee was appointed to the Senate in November 1999 to fill the seat when his father, John, died.