Moderate Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, who has bucked President Bush on tax cuts and the war in Iraq, defeated a conservative challenger Tuesday in a contest that could be crucial in the larger fight for control of Congress. With 72 percent of precincts reporting, Chafee had 25,728 votes, or 55 percent, to Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey's 20,750 votes, or 45 percent.
This is a disappointment to Democrat's nationwide who had hopped for a Laffey win. With Chafee out of the November election it was widely speculated that Laffey would lose to his Democratic opponent and thus open the Rhode Island Senate seat to a Democrat, while in the process adding to the hopeful seat gains needed to take back control of the Senate from the Republican's.
Is it really a disappointment? Was Chafee's primary win really in doubt? Even the most optomistic Democrat and in this election year there are many, would with a shrug, concede that Chafee was going to win. Does this detract from the other nationwide primary outcomes? No, not at all. Primary wins by incumbents and challengers, particularily in the Southwest indicate that all is still going according to Democratic plan. Much of this is hope and either political side of the ideological aisle should suddenly become over confident (this is true for Republican's who wipe their brows at Chafee's primary win). There is still much, much more campaigning to do, especially since the contenders know each other now. Let the game begin.