This week, we continue with a running feature, the Gubernatorial Scorecard. Every so often, we'll rate Lincoln Chafee from 1 to 10 on both the politics and substance of his most recent maneuverings, keeping a running tally. In our first installment in March, he got middling marks on politics and scored a bit better on policy. Here, he tumbles in both categories — particularly politics.
Chafee's signature budget proposal — a broad sales tax expansion — was rejected by the General Assembly. And the spending package he ultimately signed made too-heavy cuts to social services and put off long-term tax and pension reform. But, on the whole, it was a reasonable plan for lean times.
•POLITICS ALIENATES VOTERS WITH SALES TAX PROPOSAL AND DOESN'T GET MUCH CREDIT FOR FINAL BILL 3/10
•POLICY TOUGH TIMES BUDGET COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE 6/10
The Rhode Island Democratic Party's conservative wing surprised some observers when it won passage of a measure requiring voters to show picture identification before casting a ballot. But Chafee's signature on the bill was even more surprising. Advocates worry the law could disenfranchise the old and poor, while tackling a non-problem — voter fraud.
•POLITICS ANGERS BASE, WHILE PLEASING CONSERVATIVES WHO WON'T VOTE FOR HIM ANYWAY 2/10
•POLICY A SOLUTION IN SEARCH OF A PROBLEM 2/10
The governor has taken a pair of high-profile stands against the death penalty in recent weeks. First, in a conflict that is yet to be resolved, he refused to turn murder suspect Jason W. Pleau over to federal prosecutors, concerned about the possibility of execution. And last month, Chafee provided a posthumous pardon to John Gordon, an Irish immigrant who was put to death on Valentine's Day in 1845 after a questionable trial. The execution prompted Rhode Island legislators to ban the death penalty in 1852.
•POLITICS A SHOW OF CONVICTION THAT PLEASES HIS LIBERAL BASE BUT PROBABLY DOESN'T DO MUCH FOR INDEPENDENTS 5/10
•POLICY A STATE WITH A CONSCIENCE 8/10
After US Attorney Peter Neronha threatened a crackdown on three yet-to-open medical marijuana dispensaries, Chafee put a hold on the program. Now, after a breather, advocates are asking him to call the Obama Administration's bluff and allow the "compassion centers" to set up shop. So far, though, the governor has not taken action.
•POLITICS HESITATION SEEMS ODD GIVEN BROAD PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR MEDICAL POT 4/10
•POLICY SOME DELIBERATION IS OK, BUT PATIENTS HAVE WAITED LONG ENOUGH 4/10
After making a high-profile plug for gay marriage in his inaugural address, Chafee was not a central player in a push that ultimately failed. Comparisons to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who pressed hard for same-sex marriage in his state and won, are inevitable if not entirely fair. Cuomo, who took office with sky-high approval ratings, was in a position of much greater strength. Still, the compromise civil unions bill Chafee eventually signed, if an important step forward, was disappointing.
•POLITICS FALLING SHORT ON A TOP PRIORITY NEVER LOOKS GOOD, BUT CAN CLAIM PARTIAL VICTORY 6/10
•POLICY PROGRESS, BUT NOT ENOUGH 6/10
JULY TOTAL • POLITICS 20/50 • POLICY 26/50 || MARCH TOTAL • POLITICS 27/50 • POLICY 32/50 || RUNNING TOTAL • POLITICS 47/100 • POLICY 58/100