When Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee was elected to the state’s highest office in November 2010, he didn’t exactly sweep the electorate off its feet.
In fact, as an independent, with both Democratic and Republican candidates in the race (as well as the Moderate Party candidate), he garnered just more than one-third of the available votes, barely toppling over the finish line and into office.
The result has been a chief executive with no broad-based support for his platform, but rather just a survivor buffeted by the strong one-party rule of the General Assembly and without the ability to take on entrenched interests with the backing of a popular mandate.
This system does not serve Rhode Island well. While there is nothing wrong with having a robust collection of candidates for an elected office, the winner for statewide, elected positions should not just be the last person left standing.
The General Assembly should take on this simple task – require that statewide offices be filled by candidates who have carried at least 50.1 percent of the vote. If no one achieves that number in a November election, then a run-off between the top two candidates should be conducted within a month, so that the people of the state can know that the person holding the office was chosen and did not just squeak in the side door. •