One thing is for sure, we can always trust Chafee to throw a wild card.
Governor Chafee told us he was a proud independent. Then he became a Democrat.
Chafee insisted he was fundraising for his re-election campaign. Then he announced he won't be running.
Now, Chafee tells us he will finish out his term in office. Will he?
The question remains to be answered.
During his "big announcement" Chafee said he had no plans for the future yet and when pressed if he will accept a job in the Obama Administration he insisted he had no plans other than finishing his term as Governor.
It is no secret that the former Republican-turned independent- turned Democrat is on good terms with President Obama. Having served with Obama in the U.S. Senate, then being tapped to speak at the Democrat National Convention and even attracting the President's praise when he became a Democrat, it's no wonder the President's relationship to the governor of the smallest state has raised the eyebrows of political pundits. It is not out of the question to believe that Chafee's ambitions may lead him back to Washington... but where would that leave Rhode Island?
If Chafee bails on RI mid-term to accept an Obama appointment, or (though slightly less likely) to appoint himself Senator in the event that either Senator Whitehouse is tapped to take U.S. Attorney General Holder's place, that leaves Rhode Island in the hands of the Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts.
Roberts, who is term limited as Lt. Gov., has been all too quiet as speculation begins to stir over who will run for Governor, don't be fooled by her less than aggressive manner toward her political future. If she steps into the Governor's role mid-term she promises to be a fierce contender in the 2014 Gubernatorial race.
Roberts would go into the 2014 race as the incumbent, female Governor, thus destroying General Treasurer Gina Raimondo's female wow-factor right off the bat. That is, Raimondo would no longer have the novelty of leading the way for Rhode Island to have a female Governor.
Roberts would also go into the race with powerful allies in Rhode Island's unions and that is a force that Raimondo would be hard sought to overcome. It is no question Roberts would be a huge blow the current advantage enjoyed by Raimondo but where would that leave Providence Mayor Angel Taveras?
Taveras could challenge Roberts' stronghold on the union, however, Roberts has been around longer than Taveras and may have won union loyalty. Taveras could give her a run for her money but she would still have the power of incumbency.
Taveras will certainly grab the Latino vote, Raimondo the more conservative vote and Liz Roberts is likely to grab the more liberal factor of the party. Essentially, Roberts will have the strong advantage of the vote of the most organized portion of the party; the far left.
Outside of the Democrats this scenario would mean bad news for the Republican bid for Governor.
Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, a likely contender, would face quite the battle to overcome an incumbent female Governor. She would have the power of incumbency, the "she-factor," and a strong fundraising base, let's not forget this would not be Roberts' first rodeo on the statewide scale.
If Ken Block, the currently Moderate-"I'm considering being a Republican" managed to grab the Republican bid, he would struggle with the same issues as Allan Fung, as well as a name recognition crisis compared to the well-known incumbent Governor, who landed in the seat by bizarre political circumstances. Finally that leaves past gubernatorial candidate John Robitaille, who probably wouldn't even make it to a primary because he is likely to head for the hills if this landscape shapes out, after all, he has been the most thoughtful about the political landscape when considering whether he should seek the office. So while Republicans have not been quiet about their excitement with the Governor's decision they should look closely at what this means for their political future.
Once again, in a way only Governor Chafee could do the Rhode Island political landscape has been rocked. While the political future for RI may be uncertain one thing is certain, things will be a lot less quirky when Governor Chafee leaves the State House.
Dee DeQuattro is the assignment desk manager and digital news coordinator for ABC6. She studied politics and communications and holds a master's degree from Providence College. Follow her on twitter @deedequattro and log on to ABC6 .com for her latest in depth coverage of politics and news.