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R.I. guv Lincoln Chafee joining Democratic Party

PROVIDENCE -- Independent Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee is joining the Democratic Party ahead of his 2014 bid for a second term, his spokeswoman said Wednesday, confirming a move that Chafee has been talking about for months as a way to better position himself for re-election.

Chafee would not immediately address his party switch yesterday, saying only that he would be announcing his decision at his local board of canvassers this morning. But he did say his priorities haven't changed.

"All I've cared about since my time in public service started is good, honest, efficient government. That hasn't changed," Chafee said.

The governor, a former Republican U.S. senator, became a political independent in 2007, the year after he lost re-election to the Senate. He was elected as the nation's only independent governor in 2010.

Chafee is a son of the late Sen. John Chafee, a former governor whose name was synonymous with the Republican Party in Rhode Island for decades.

Chafee has said he shares many positions with Democrats and joining the party would help with fundraising. He is a supporter of President Barack Obama and spoke at last year's Democratic National Convention. Obama said in a statement that he was delighted by the decision.

For local Democrats, the move complicates next year's primary and sets up the possibility of a three-way matchup with Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and Treasurer Gina Raimondo.

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