Lieberman Loses, Concedes And Vows Independent Run
Senator Joe Lieberman has conceded defeat in a primary narrowly won by anti-war Democratic challenger Ned Lamont that is likely to have a big impact on the political scene in 2006…and perhaps 2008:
Sen. Joe Lieberman has conceded the U.S. Senate primary to challenger Ned Lamont but vowed to petition his way onto the November ballot as an independent…
With 89 percent of precincts counted, challenger Ned Lamont led with 52 percent, or 127,786 votes, to Liebermanâ€™s 48 percent, or 119,867 votes, according to the Associated Press. The polls closed at 8 p.m. ET, and voter turnout was projected to be nearly twice normal for a primary.
The primary has largely been about Lieberman’s support of the Iraq war, a position that has tried the patience of many of his fellow Democrats.
Mr. Lieberman conceded shortly after 11 p.m. after nearly complete results showed him trailing Mr. Lamont by nearly 4 percentage points.
With 96 percent of Connecticutâ€™s precincts reporting, Mr. Lamont held 51.9 percent of the vote, with Mr. Lieberman holding 48.1 percent.
Mr. Lieberman, a leading moderate Democrat, drew derision from members of his own party for supporting the war and, with particularly forceful language, defending President Bushâ€™s foreign policy at times. But some voters also felt that Mr. Lieberman had lost touch with Connecticut after being a player on the national stage after 18 years in the Senate and as a vice presidential nominee and a presidential candidate in 2004.
Many liberals never forgave him for his friendly manner in a vice presidential debate against Dick Cheney in 2000, and they were further turned off when Mr. Lieberman said on national television last year that he would have kept Terri Schiavo on a feeding tube against her husbandâ€™s wishes.
Mr. Lamont, a former Greenwich selectman who, at 52, has never held statewide office, capitalized on the disaffection by spending at least $4 million of his own money on hard-edged television commercials, such as one where Mr. Liebermanâ€™s face morphed into President Bushâ€™s as an announcer said that the senator â€œtalks like George W. Bush and acts like George W. Bush.â€?
The AP has the paragraph that underscore what is an incredible political fall:
His loss to Ned Lamont just six years after his party made him its vice presidential candidate made him only the fourth incumbent senator to lose a primary since 1980.
Lieberman conceded but made it clear he is not through battling Lamont, the Hartford Courant reports:
Lieberman told supports that he’d called Lamont to congratulate him; then he took a few swipes at his rival.
“Of course I am disappointed by the results, but I am not discouraged,” Lieberman said..
“The old politics of partisan polarization won today,” Lieberman said. “For the sake of our state, our country and my party, I cannot and will not let that result stand.”
“Tomorrow morning our campaign will file the necessary petitions ï¿½ so that we can continue this campaign for a new politics of unity and purpose.”
Heavy turnout seemed to benefit Lamont, according to CBS News:
Early reports from polling stations showed heavy turnout â€” exactly what Lamont’s campaign hoped for. Officials said turnout could have been, up to to 50 percent, which would have broken its record for turnout in a statewide primary, which had been 38.8 percent in 1970.
Some might have described Lamont’s dive into the national spotlight as foolhardy; he tells CBSNews.com that he didn’t have much support last winter when he decided to throw in his hat.
“Well, letâ€™s face it, it was a pretty uphill climb from the get go. It discouraged a lot of other people, but it didnâ€™t discourage me,” Lamont said. “I thought he was wrong on a lot of the big issues of the day, and I thing President Bush is very wrong, and I think itâ€™s important that the Democrats be bold and stand up for what we stand for â€” a constructive alternative.”
Shortly after Lieberman conceded, Lamont spoke to supporters at his Meriden headquarters.
“They call Connecticut the land of steady habits,” Lamont said. “Today we voted for a big change.”
Aside from the many other oft-mentioned implications of this race (see our posts chain linked below especially THIS ONE) the next two big controversies will be Lieberman getting himself on the ballot as an independent, the inevitable pressures from some within his own party to get him to re-think an independent run — and the tough political position some prominent Democrats are going to be in if they refuse to campaign for Lamont and either overtly or covertly support Lieberman.
This isn’t the END of this story. It’s just BEGINNING.