Lincoln Chafee
Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, center, officially announced he was running in the 2016 presidential elections on 3 June. Reuters

It appears the Democratic Party is playing catch-up with the GOP when it comes to presidential candidates. Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chaffee became the fourth Democratic contender in the 2016 election after formally announcing his bid on 3 June.

The former Republican senator first dropped hints he would be running back in April, when he accidentally told two separate interviewees he was running. On Wednesday (3 June), Chafee formally announced his bid during a speech at George Mason University in Virginia.

"I enjoy challengers and certainly we have many facing America," the 62-year-old said. "Today, I'm formally entering the race for the Democratic nomination for president."

Chafee, who was an independent for some time before becoming a Democrat in 2013, is a long shot in the nomination race. According to Politico, the vocal Hillary Clinton critic is doing poorly in the polls and is unpopular in his home state of Rhode Island.

The fourth Democratic candidate not only faces Clinton for his party's nomination, but former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Meanwhile, there are nine declared Republican candidates, with others expected to announce their bids.

Unlike his fellow candidates, Chafee took a rather unusual turn during his announcement speech, Politico reported. The Democrat not only called on Americans to join the metric system, he said Edward Snowden should be allowed back home and that the US should repair its relationship with Bolivia.

Yes, but what does he stand for?

His positions have veered away from many of those discussed by other candidates, instead choosing to concentrate on Clinton's vote to enter the Iraq War. According to Politico, he also took a stab at Clinton for the scandals surrounding her family's foundations. O'Malley and Sanders, on the other hand, have until now chosen to steer clear of pointedly attacking Clinton.

Some, including former aide Mike Trainor, are not quite sure what issues Chafee is running on or why he's launching a campaign at all. "He's not done anything other than posture on some issues," Trainor told The Washington Post. "The question he's going to have to answer is what credible indications can he give that he is at all ready to run a national campaign."

The former mayor of Warwick, Rhode Island took a different path than his fellow Democratic candidates by making his 15-minute announcement in a barely filled auditorium, Politico noted.

Chafee was first appointed to the Senate in 1999 as a replacement of the seat left open by the death of his father, Republican John Chafee. He was elected to another term in 2000 and later lost his seat to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse in 2006. He moved away the GOP in 2007, when he officially endorsed Barack Obama for president.

He ran, and won, the race for Rhode Island governor as an independent in 2010. Due to poor approval ratings in the state, Chafee decided to not run for reelection in 2014.

The latest CNN/ORC poll revealed Chafee earned about 1% among Democratic voters. On the other hand, Clinton earned 60%, Sanders 10% and O'Malley 1%.