GOP Abandons Republican Senate Candidate Schlesinger In Connecticut


What’s the loneliest job in the world? President?

Noooooo. It’s running as the Republican candidate for Senate in Connecticut, according to the New York Times:

Facing Senator Joseph I. Lieberman’s independent candidacy, Republican officials at the state and national level have made the extraordinary decision to abandon their official candidate, and some are actively working to help Mr. Lieberman win in November.

Despite Mr. Lieberman’s position that he will continue to caucus with Democrats if re-elected, all three Republican Congressional candidates in Connecticut have praised Mr. Lieberman and have not endorsed the party’s nominee, Alan Schlesinger. An independent group with Republican ties is raising money for Mr. Lieberman, who has been a strong supporter of President Bush on the Iraq war.

Which raises the question: if this is going on, how long will it take before the Democratic party leadership and Democrats working to elect Democratic members of their party to Congress aggressively begin going after Lieberman in the election campaign? MORE:

Senator John McCain of Arizona, while saying he would support the Republican nominee, is not planning to campaign for him, and even allowed two of his aides to consult with the Lieberman camp before the Aug. 8 Democratic primary. And Newt Gingrich, the Republican who once served as House speaker, has endorsed Mr. Lieberman’s candidacy.

Newt’s endorsement should make a lot of Democrats feel good about Lieberman caucusing with the Democrats and getting some prime positions in the Senate if he wins. AND:

While some Republicans are quietly rooting for his Democratic opponent, Ned Lamont, because they feel he would be such a polarizing liberal target, many leading Republicans say it would serve the party better to have a centrist like Mr. Lieberman remain in office, particularly after being spurned by his own party.

But one thing is clear: there is little to no talk of bolstering Mr. Schlesinger, 48, the Republican nominee, a little-known former mayor of Derby who has registered polling numbers so low they are breaking records. Little known throughout the state, Mr. Schlesinger received attention this summer following reports in The Hartford Courant that he had gambled under a fake name and once had gambling debts. He has dismissed the accounts as irrelevant.

So it’s important to NOTE: when you read stories about the GOP and Lieberman, it is not exclusively that they want Lieberman because he’s Lieberman.

They feel they have the Connecticut equivalent of Florida’s Katherine Harris heading their ticket…and they’re opting for Lieberman.

If Lieberman ran in Florida, Republicans would lovingly embrace him there as a huge improvement over Harris. (Actually, in political terms a cantalope would be huge improvement over Harris.)

But the key reason why GOPers are now but all campaigning for Lieberman is that they feel Lieberman will be on their page in some critical fights against Democrats in the Senate. Will this include vital Congressional oversight battles?

So what about Schlesinger? A happy camper, he ain’t:

Mr. Schlesinger has reacted bitterly to the rejection by his own party, dismissing calls for him to leave the race. He maintains he can win by conveying his conservative platform to voters.

“Washington and the media have attempted to hijack this election and turn it into a referendum on the future of the national Democratic Party,� Mr. Schlesinger said in an interview yesterday. “Their interest is not in electing a Republican in Connecticut, or anyone in particular in Connecticut.�

The Times notes that White House spokesman Tony Snow “pointedly refused” to say the White House would endorse Schlesinger. And RNC chairman Ken Mehlman pledge “to stay out of this one.”

A key question then becomes: can Lieberman end his campaign (presuming he wins) without burning his bridges with the Democratic party if he continues to suggest the party or its candidates can’t be trusted with the nation’s security?

Lieberman has already hired
two pollsters — one a Democrat and one a Republican — and is pointing to that as proof that his campaign is truly a bipartisan one. Lieberman is way ahead in the latest poll in Connecticut. Even a bitterly anti-Lieberman local liberal talk show host here in San Diego recently talked as if the Lamont candidacy was a goner.

Will key Democrats aggressively campaign against Lieberman — and risk alienating some independents and centrists who want Lieberman — or not?

The Democrats’ 2004 Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards was in Connecticut where he campaigned for Lamont, pointedly against Lieberman — but also had some pointed words for Lamont, too:

Mr. Edwards, who is considering a bid for the White House in 2008, became the first presidential hopeful to campaign for Mr. Lamont, who defeated Senator Joseph I. Lieberman last week in the Democratic primary here. Mr. Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina, said Mr. Lieberman should be “honoring the decision� of Connecticut voters by bowing out of the race.

However, Mr. Lieberman has been repositioning himself as an independent, and a poll released on Thursday showed him 12 percentage points ahead of Mr. Lamont in the general election among likely voters. The senator’s supporters say the poll shows that he will be tough to defeat.

“He should not be running as an independent,� Mr. Edwards said at a rally with Mr. Lamont outside the Yale School of Medicine. “I don’t think it has anything to do with polls. This is about democracy. He’s a Democrat, he ran in a Democratic primary and he didn’t win. Democrats chose Ned Lamont as their candidate; he should be their candidate.�

But Mr. Edwards, who later held a $250-a-head fund-raiser here for Mr. Lamont, said Mr. Lamont would also have to show voters that he stood for more than simply criticism of Mr. Lieberman.

Indeed, the Democratic left that helped defeat Lieberman has been so vehement in its opposition to him and anger at him for supporting the war that it seemingly obliterates other messages that swing voters, Democrats who are not of the party’s left wing, and moderate Republicans (Connecticut does have some of those) need to hear.

Just as a Democratic presidential hopeful has to “run left” in the primaries and generally “run (more) center” in the general election to win win by building a powerful electoral coalition, Lamont has to do it — in record time.

At this point, at least, it looks as if Lieberman is on the way to having already built one.

         

7 Comments

  1. Hope against Hope. Lieberman is gone. Face it.

  2. Why did Lieberman even bother to run in the primary? I could have lived with either Lamont or Lieberman. But if you run in a primary, you accept the result of it. Lieberman is an unprincipled power-hungry hypocritical sore loser.

  3. I wonder if Bill Bennett registers at the casinos under his own name? Tweety on Hardball was harping on the Repug from Conn about the gambling. The irony of Ralph Reed and Abramhoff and the Repugs gambling stand is surreal.

  4. …..and if Connecticut wants to elect hypocritical sore losers to office that is their right. The Republicans are going to be in for a nasty surprise when Lieberman joins with the Democrats in most of the votes. The only way for a third party to take root is for the candidates to tell the extremes to take a hike and go out on their own.

  5. Karl Rove’s dream scenario: progressives everywhere will take the mickey and forget that NED LAMONT IS A USELESS STUFFED SHIRT, who by himself, adds NOTHING. NOTHING.

    What matters is the total number of Democrats in the Senate, and the total number of Democrats in the House. A multi-million dollar internecine pissing contest that (1) gets progressives to take their eyes off other balls (for example, Santorum seems to be making a comeback in PA, and Tester is running neck and neck in MT), (2) gets progressives to pour millions of dollars in impulse purchase money toward Lamont that SHOULD GO TO PICKUPS (including 3 pickup House seats in CT), and (3) lets Lieberman develop his OWN right wing talking points FOR FREE that can then be picked up by others as endorsed by “even the liberal” Joe Lieberman… is the best thing to happen to Karl this year since his non-indictment announcement.

    Progressives face a trap– to devote virtually ANY EFFORT OR MONEY AT ALL to unseat Lieberman diverts it from elsewhere. In short: it’s suicide. Lieberman has made himself the perfect poison pill. Say what you will about Lieberman, but that’s the way it is. All the more reason to despise him. But unless he can be turned into a poster child crusade to get money FOR OTHER CANDIDATES, it’s best to get out of the way and let him get reelected as a de facto Republican (who will join the Democratic caucus… a Yankee Zell Miller, if you will.)

  6. I still say it’s Maytag repairman.

    Lamont supporters whine about Lieberman being “disloyal” to the party, yet as a sitting Senator Lieberman’s primary loyalty isn’t to the party. It’s to his constituents (ALL of them) and if he feels that it’s in their best interests to stay in the race, then he should do just that. Lieberman will win in a walk as an independent. Even Harry Reid understands that if divisions are close, Lieberman will be the swing vote, will vote with the Democrats on almost all issues, and that driving him away from the party he’s been loyal to for umpteen years is Dumb.

    But it is fun to watch.

  7. The Republicans are going to be in for a nasty surprise when Lieberman joins with the Democrats in most of the votes.

    Given the fact that the Republican candidate…

    1. Has a proverbial snowball’s chance of winning.
    2. Is a slimeball with serious personal issues.

    …it makes perfect sense for Republicans to vote for the least of three evils. I’m sure they have no illusions of how Joe will vote. He’s been their senator for quite some time.

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