Lincoln Chafee Files To Run For President In 2020 As A Libertarian

He's the second third-party candidate to throw their hat in the ring for 2020.

Lincoln Chafee takes part in a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images

He's the second third-party candidate to throw their hat in the ring for 2020.

Lincoln Chafee, a former Republican Senator and Democratic Governor of Rhode Island, has announced that he is seeking the Libertarian Party’s 2020 nomination for president, CBS News reports. Along with Socialist Howie Hawkins, Chafee is the second person from a major third party to have declared a run for the Oval Office in 2020.

According to paperwork filed with the Federal Election Commission on Sunday, Chafee has formed the “Lincoln Chafee for President” campaign committee, based in Wyoming. He also has a website, Lincoln Chafee For President, which states that he’s running as a Libertarian. He is currently asking for donations.

“Thirty Years, Zero Scandals. Lincoln Leads With Truth.”

Who Is Lincoln Chafee?

Chafee, 66, was born and raised in Rhode Island. He worked as a farrier before making a name for himself in politics.

By 1999, Chafee had worked his way up to the United States Senate, having been appointed to his father’s former seat after the elder Chafee died. Chafee served in the Senate as a Republican for one term, before losing to a challenger. After that loss, he took some time off before setting his sights on Rhode Island’s Governor’s mansion. He was elected to that office as an Independent, before switching to the Democratic Party during his term as governor.

RI governor Lincoln Chafee speaks at Brown University in 2007
  Kenneth C. Zirkel / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

What Does The Libertarian Party Support?

The simplest and most direct description of the Libertarian Party is that its adherents believe in fiscal conservatism, similar to the Republican party, and social liberalism, similar to the Democratic party.

According to the Libertarian Party‘s website, the group has a plethora of stances. It supports decreased military interventionism, ending the War on Drugs, marriage equality, reducing the size and scope of the police state and ending mass incarceration, maintaining gun rights, and protecting abortion rights, among other issues.

The Role Of Third Parties In Presidential Elections

Third party candidates — while historically long shots to get elected to the Oval Office — have been known to play a role in presidential elections, splitting the vote and potentially taking away supporters of a candidate from the Republican or Democratic Party. For example, in the 1996 presidential election, Ross Perot’s Reform Party got 8.4 percent of the popular vote. Former President Bill Clinton defeated Bob Dole by only 8.5 percent in the popular vote.

These candidates can also have a major effect on the election outcome and electoral votes. In the 2016 election, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Socialist Party candidate Jill Stein received about 220,000 votes between them in Michigan. Donald Trump won Michigan and its 16 electoral votes by about 11,000 votes. Had those Johnson or Stein voters voted for Hillary Clinton, she’d have won Michigan’s electoral votes.