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The Chafees, the Lichts and one degree of separation

November 15, 2010

As first reported by WRNI, Lincoln Chafee has chosen Richard Licht, a member of another prominent Rhode Island political family, as his choice to head the state Department of Administration. You’ve got to love the Rhode Islandness of this choice.

Licht ran against Chafee’s father, John Chafee, when the latter was an incumbent senator in 1988. Licht also tried to run against Lincoln Chafee in 2000, but got beat by Bob Weygand in a bitter Democratic primary.

Here’s the most ironic connection: Chafee’s sales tax plan in the just-past campaign season was reminiscent of his father’s ill-fated gubernatorial campaign against Licht’s uncle, Frank Licht, in 1968.

The elder Chafee got beat after telling Rhode Islanders that a tax income tax increase was necessary. Frank Licht won the election and subsequently raised taxes.

The aftermath of that 1968 election was a subtle subtext in Chafee’s winning campaign this time around, skillfully played up in at least one commercial, and it factored into his victory.

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