Rhode Island Democrats suffer identity crisis

Rhode Island Democrats may be in disarray and looking for new leadership a day after Gov. Lincoln Chafee announced he won't seek a second term.

Typically, the governor is the leader of his party. Chafee, only a Democrat for a couple of months, is not running for re-election, and the party has been without a chairman since Ed Pacheco left to run for secretary of state.

"I think it's OK for now. I wouldn't expect them to go much longer without a chairman," said Rob Coupe, a Republican political consultant.

Coupe said he thinks the Democratic Party right now has two sides.

"There's some serious division within the party itself, and with the governor's recent announcement that he won't be running for re-election, it may help to sort that out. But over the past few months with the possibility of a difficult primary in the race for governor and multiple candidates already having announced for other statewide offices, I think there's been some serious division," Coupe said.

Whether the union faction wins out and sends Providence Mayor Angel Taveras to the governor's race, or the more fiscally conservative branch of the party elevates General Treasurer Gina Raimondo to the nomination, Coupe said he believes the Democratic Party in Rhode Island will settle its identity crisis.

"I'm not worried about the future of the Rhode Island Democratic Party. I think they'll pull it together," Coupe said.

The office of Speaker of the House Gordon Fox said a meeting to elect a new chairman of the Democratic Party will likely be held before the end of the month.