09/12/2006 03:12 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Chafee Feels Republican Love in Rhode Island

If you want to see just how large Republicans can build their Big Tent, or alternately, how tight they can hold their noses, look at the Senate primary race in Rhode Island today.

Senator Lincoln Chafee, 53, who both parts his hair and charts his positions in the middle, is being challenged by Stephen Laffey, 44, the energetic, outspoken mayor of Cranston. In most states, Laffey would be the GOP's dream candidate. An up-by-the-bootstraps-success, Laffey made millions in investment banking, but gave it up save his hometown from fiscal disaster.

But in Rhode Island, Republicans wish that Laffey would get lost. In a state where only 11 percent of the population is registered Republican and there's no telling what independents are going to do, they need a moderate to go up against a popular former attorney general, Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, in November.

Chafee has a chance to beat Whitehouse, according to polls. Laffey would be wiped out. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has said it will give up in the state should Chafee lose in the primary.

Read the whole thing here.