Lincoln Chafee poised to enter 2016 race

The 2016 Democratic presidential field is likely about to get much bigger.

Former Rhode Island governor and senator Lincoln Chafee is set to make a “major announcement” about his 2016 plans next week outside Washington, D.C., his spokesperson confirmed to msnbc. He is widely expected to enter the race.

Chafee will make the announcement at 5:30 p.m. ET Wednesday, June 3, at George Mason University’s Center for Politics & Foreign Relations in Arlington, Virginia. 

Chafee will be in New Hampshire for two events before the announcement, and then he will return the following Thursday for a previously planned event. Politico first reported the news.

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The announcement will come just days after former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley plans to make his own big announcement Saturday in Baltimore. And it will be just over a week since Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had his presidential kickoff rally in his hometown of Burlington.

All three will face off against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is dominating the polls and considered to have a near-lock on the Democratic nomination.

Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, who announced an exploratory committee last fall, may also get in soon.

That would leave Vice President Joe Biden as the only high-profile Democrat actively exploring a presidential run yet to make his plans known.

Chafee served as a moderate Republican in the Senate, where he was the only member of his party to vote against the Iraq War. He lost his seat in the Democratic wave in 2006, and then became an independent, but supported Barack Obama in 2008.  

He ran for governor successfully as an independent 2010, but declined to run for re-election. He only became a Democrat in 2013.

Chafee is almost entirely unknown on the national stage, and he surprised many when a video announcing his exploratory presidential campaign appeared online in April.

Since then, Chafee has attacked Clinton over her vote for the Iraq War and said he was leaning heavily toward running.