The joyous Chafee, meanwhile, waded into a crush of reporters and boisterous supporters after his dramatic win. Previewing his message for the general election fight with Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, he extolled the value of having bipartisan representation in the state’s congressional delegation, noting that it has included at least one Republican since 1976 (the year in which his late father, John Chafee, began his tenure in the Senate).

As a Republican moderate, Chafee has steadily irritated both Democrats and members of his own party. Some pundits saw this race as a reverse image of the contest in which liberal challenger Ned Lamont beat incumbent Senator Joseph Lieberman in Connecticut. While GOP moderates remain an endangered species in Washington, Chafee put a more rose-colored, if personally accurate, take on his victory, saying, “We’re alive and kicking.”

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