Rhode Island Governor Chafee says he will not seek re-election: media

Newly elected governor Chafee speaks outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington
Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee (C) speaks to the media between other Governors-elect Dan Malloy of Connecticut (L) and Peter Shumlin of Vermont outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, December 2, 2010, following their meeting at Blair House with U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. REUTERS/Jason Reed

BOSTON (Reuters) - Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, who became a Democrat in May, does not plan to seek re-election when his term wraps up at the end of next year, local media reported on Wednesday.

Chafee, a former U.S. Senator, followed a famous father into politics as a Republican. He later became an independent before joining the Democratic Party, a move he said reflected the rightward shift of the party in recent years.

He made his announcement in an afternoon press conference in Cranston, local media reported. A spokeswoman could not be reached for immediate comment.

Rhode Island is expected to be the site of a highly competitive Democratic primary next year, with likely candidates including State Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras.

Chafee, the son of former Rhode Island Governor and Senator John Chafee, was appointed to a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1999, following his father's death. He was elected to hold the seat as a Republican a year later.

His 2006 reelection campaign failed and Chafee switched his party affiliation to Independent ahead of his run for governor.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; editing by Andrew Hay)