Lincoln Chafee launched his political career nearly 40 years ago and would come to serve as a mayor, senator, and governor for Rhode Island. Following a long family line of Ocean State politicians that dates back to the 19th century, he was appointed to fill the U.S. Senate seat of his father John Chafee, who died in 1999. In 2000, Chafee was elected to a full six-year term in the Senate, where he was a member of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works; and he chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Middle East Subcommittee. Among other things, Chafee is well-known for his Republican-to-Independent-to-Democrat-to-Libertarian migration. After losing his seat in the Senate in 2006, he left the Republican Party the following year. In 2010, he became the first Independent elected Governor of Rhode Island in over 150 years. In 2013, he then registered as a member of the Democratic Party, where he stayed until 2019, when he finally decided to become a Libertarian. Prior to his Senate term, Chafee was a delegate to Rhode Island's Constitutional Convention and the mayor of Warwick. A former blacksmith who spent years shoeing horses, Chafee has also been employed in manufacturing, including stints as a professional advocate for clean energy and electrifying the Northeast rail corridor.
Much of Chafee's success and hard work can be traced back to his college days, where he excelled at Brown University. After attending exclusive prep schools, including Phillips Academy—where he was a schoolmate of Jeb Bush—Chafee enrolled at Brown in 1971. Like his father, who was a standout wrestler at Yale, Chafee was a four-year varsity wrestler at Brown. Ultimately, he was elected captain of the team, and even received the Francis M. Driscoll Award for leadership, scholarship, and athletics. In 1975, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in classics from Brown.
Years after stepping off the mat, Chafee has remained a supporter of the Brown wrestling team. For instance, in 2011, when the school threatened to eliminate wrestling and a handful of other sports, Chafee—at the time governor of Rhode Island—was a member of the presentation team to save wrestling, which ultimately succeeded. Previously, Chafee was named the Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies, serving from 2007-2009. During this time, he worked with undergraduates studying American foreign policy and also wrote the book "Against the Tide: How a Compliant Congress Empowered a Reckless President." Ruth J. Simmons, who was the Brown University President at the time, applauded Chaffee's return to his alma mater, saying, “Having served the public with independence of mind and great courage, he is a wonderful model for Brown students.”