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The New Governor: How to navigate the Obama administration

The New Governor: How to navigate the Obama administration

Harris dives into Asian diplomacy amid questions back home about her political future

Former Gov. Dan Malloy, center left, and former Rep. Robert Michel in a photo from the state Capitol in Providence


Updated on: June 02, 2015 / 9:15 AM / WASHINGTON


In 2010, when Gov. Lincoln Chafee was re-elected to a second term, President Barack Obama said, “It is an honor to serve alongside you in this administration as we seek to improve life and opportunity for all those who call Rhode Island home,” Chafee said. “I am proud to continue my friendship with President Obama, who I know is a man of tremendous character and who has stood for change in the White House since his election. I am thankful that Rhode Island is an ideal place for me and my family to be together. And I look forward to continuing to work with President Obama and fellow Democrats to make Rhode Island the greatest state in the union.”

Now, six years after Chafee left office, with Obama in the White House and the Obama administration looking to make new, foreign-policy moves, the former governor is looking at several major changes. One is how to navigate the U.S. State Department that has been part of the president’s entourage since 2009.

Another major question is how she’ll answer those around her who want to know why she and the Democratic Party leadership stayed put in the governor’s office six years after a Democratic governor won one of the most closely divided states in the country.

A third question is what happens next for Chafee, who is now chairman of the governor’s Democratic Party.

During her six-year tenure, Chafee has done little to distinguish her from a previous Democratic governor, who has also been part of the Obama administration, or from a fellow Democrat who served nearly six decades ago as a Republican governor. Chafee is not the most charismatic person in the state, according to a former colleague, but she does have a “pretty good record” in Rhode Island.

But in a state where voters have had plenty of questions about where they stand on the Obama record in

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