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Posted by on Jun 20, 2006 in At TMV | 11 comments

Lieberman Will Run In Primary But Hints Could Run As Independent (UPDATED)

The battle lines are clearly drawn for what could be one of most closely watched Senate primaries — and races — this year, one that all sides agree could have a huge impact on the Democratic party and how many voters perceive it.

In one corner, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman. In the other, his challenger and “netroots” favorite, challenger Ned Lamont.

The questions: Will Lieberman withdraw from the primary and will he run as an independent. The answer, via the Hartford Courant: no and possibly yes:

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman said today that he will not withdraw from the Aug. 8 Democratic primary , but he left open the possibility of running in November as a petitioning candidate if he loses the primary.

“I will be in the Democratic primary. I’ve been a Democrat all my life,” he said this morning.

But as in the past, he refused to rule out the option of running as a petitioning candidate should challenger Ned Lamont win the primary.

“If the unexpected happened, do I want to keep open the option of taking my case as an independent Democrat to all the voters of Connecticut so that they can have the last word in November?” Lieberman said. That’s an unanswered question, he said.

What makes Lieberman such a fascianting figure is the kinds of emotions he has aroused and how symbolic he has become:

  • To some Democrats, including some progressive bloggers, getting rid of Lieberman is essential because he is considered to be a DINO (Democratic In Name Only) — a politico who has strongly backed the Bush administration on the war and other issues. When President George Bush hugged him after his State of the Union Address to many of these Democrats, particularly those who are trying to transform the Internet into a vital Democratic political tool, it was not a mere incident but seemingly Lieberman and Bush ending a political “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy about who Lieberman really was.
  • To many moderate Democrats, conservative Democrats (there are still a few of those around) and independent voters, Lieberman is a courageous figure who has put aside partisanship on key national security issues and is a descendant of the JFK/Clinton wing of the party.

Lieberman’s Democratic foes (and that includes many bloggers as well as many Air America talk show hosts) are clamoring for his defeat and Lamont’s election. A lot of energy and presumably money is being put into sending Lieberman — and the Democratic party elite — a message on the need for Democrats to be discernibly different from Republicans or else.

Those who defend Lieberman (and that includes prominent Washington Post columnist David Broder who recently wrote this column about him)see him as someone who has championed national security issues and who has served as a kind of Democratic party political retaining wall against the Democrats’ anti-war wing, which some consider descended from of the old political-poison McGovern faction.

Lieberman has generally been a shoo-in candidate in Connecticut but polls show Lamont making gains. And he recently unveiled a rehash of an old campaign ad that was panned in many quarters. (Yours truly is from Connecticut and some family members know someone who used to work with Lieberman. So I’ve heard about Lieberman for years).

One of the interesting transformations that has befallen Lieberman is that for the past 6 years he has seemingly been transformed into a a perpetual symbol:

–When Al Gore plucked him from the Senate to run for Vice President he was the first Jewish Vice Presidential candidate.
–He had been highly critical of President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair and considered a moderate to moderate conservative Democrat when Gore picked him. But once the campaign began he came under fire from some Republicans and even some Democrats in his own state who accused him of discarding his own beliefs and running much further the left under Gore.
–After the election, he was accused of moving back to the right and being a Democrat who the Democratic party elite could not count on to be there in some of the big battles (the war, Social Security reform).

And there’s more:

–To his foes, Lieberman is the kind of person whose defeat would be symbolic because they view him as more of a Republican these days than a Democrat.
–To his supporters, if Lieberman is defeated it would mean the Democratic party’s tent will have shrunk with the exile of a moderate to moderate conservative (use the phrase that fits your personal ideological anchor) Democrat.
–To his foes, Lieberman’s defeat would send a clear message about where the Democratic party stands on the war.
–To his supporters, Lieberman’s defeat would send a clear message about where the Democratic party stands on the war — but they don’t see this as a desirable message.
–To his foes, Lieberman’s defeat would be a big step in the refashioning of the Democratic party more in line with how the base feels.
–To his foes, Lieberman’s defeat would mean a Democratic party purge has begun and the party would be moving significantly left.

Of course, all politics IS local so a question that many pundits aren’t asking — that the votes will determine — is whether Joe Lieberman has worn well with his folks back home or is becoming something of a political kvetch.

And while all this goes on, the Democrats will need to defeat Republicans if they wants to take back either house of Congress in November.

Will the party remain united — or will the Lieberman drama gobble up resources, accentuate a party split and perhaps chase away some of the independent voters up for grabs?

UPDATE:
–The latest polls show Lieberman’s primary polling margin is shrinking and that he’d win by far fewer votes if he runs as an independent than if he runs as a Democrat.
Kos thinks these polls explain something about Lieberman’s chosen path.
Bull Moose sees Connecticut as a “central battleground for immoderate centrists…. That is where the lefties have decided to fight. The national immoderate center must converge there to stand our ground. If the left prevails, one party could jump off the cliff.”
–Blogs for Bush’s Mark Noonan sees Al Gore as a “backstabbing creep” for refusing to endorse former running mate Lieberman.
The Patriot Diaries expresses dismay over the way it says the Democratic party is trying to tear itself apart.
Connecticut Bob posts his original interview You Tube video with Lamont on his site.

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Copyright 2006 The Moderate Voice
  • SnarkyShark

    Liebermans crime was to undercut Democratic unity on way to many occasions. The fact that he’s Shaun Hannitys favorite Democrat is all that needs to be said.

    Theres such a thing as being too accomadating. And thanks too way to much right-wing bloviating, civil discourse is a thing of the past. Todays modern right-wing partisian thinks civility is a weakness.

    I really tired to be balanced in my positions. I’ve always thought the truth was somewhere in the middle. And thats probably the exact truth. But the truth is we have lurched way too far right, and what used to be the middle is now considered the far left. If youre a true leftist, you got no-where at all to go.

    Fiscal sanity? Not in the Republican party. Respect for individual rights? Who’s the party of “we can spy on, and detain anybody we wan’t”? Give you a hint, starts with an R. Nope, Joe has enabled Bush at every possibilty, and this is not a couragous stand, but a pol who loves the status quo.

    Kos is not some haven of left-wing crazies as Glenn Renyolds would like to condition you to believe. But true progressives are sick and tired of bought and payed for politicians betraying them at every turn. You want lock-step, then be a Republican.

    But the Democratic party is going to be reclaimed as a voice for reasonable people. And that change started with Testor, and will continue with the challange to Vichy Joe. The give and take is just a sign of the real Democracy that is taking place. The Democrats are reforming their party. Other than clapping louder, what are the Repubs doing about their situation?

    Whenever moderates get tired of being sold a bill of goods by the corperate media, they know where to go to change this crappy road we are on.

  • CaseyL

    Leiberman’s becoming another Zeller.

    It’s not only that he’s too right wing on important issues; Democrats have lots of conservatives or people who are conservative on certain issues.

    The issue is that Leiberman has repeatedly sabotaged Democrats – at least as early as the 2000 Fiasco, where he agreed that all military ballots should be counted without examination for fraud (and where we later learned there was a LOT of fraud in those ballots). Since then, he allowed Bush and the GOP to co-opt too many Democratic efforts and programs. Not least among these was letting Bush grab control of (and credit for) establishing the Department of Homeland Security.

    I don’t mind conservative-ish Democrats, because I do believe in a “big tent.” What I mind, a lot, is when soi-disant Democrats undermine the Democratic Party in order to further the interests of the Republican Party – esp. when the Republican Party is extremist, unAmerican, and either too corrupt or too incompetent to govern effectively.

  • SnarkyShark

    CaseyL

    I dont even mind if he wins as an Independent. As long as hye doesn’t get to claim that (D).

    Everytime you hear the shrub say “there’s bi-partisan agreement” on, oh I dont know, say raping social security, you can bet he’s talking about Joe.

    Depriving Dear Leader of that talking point is a victory all by itself.

  • Oh Lordy Lou

    My big issue with Lieberman isn’t his policies, but his obvious “moral conservatism.” I’m tired of being talked down to by politicos in general, and Lieberman is one of the worst.

    I will never forgive him for Mortal Kombat. NEVER.

  • I am so tired of hearing that holding one guy to a basic Democratic standard means the total destruction of some “big tent” ideal. If you want to talk about throwing “moderates” overboard, then check out Christie Todd Whitman’s It’s My Party Too blog and news.

    Are moderates being frozen out of the Republican Party of Wisconsin? It appears a large majority of party delegates would like exactly that, according to a nonbinding resolution passed at last weekend’s state convention in Appleton.

    Resolution 25 urged the GOP “to withhold all promotional and financial support of those candidates that do not consistently subscribe to this overall conservative agenda, be they incumbent or new candidates.”

    It also urges the party to “actively and vigorously” seek out candidates for office who “will go in this conservative direction, and respect the wishes of party members.”

    “I have worked hard to raise the conservative voice,” convention chair and state Sen. Cathy Stepp, R-Sturtevant, told the delegates in Appleton last weekend. “We should never apologize for our conservative agenda.”

    But perhaps the most resounding support of conservatism was the resolution that could freeze moderate candidates out of the party.

    Resolution 25 states that because the convention “passed numerous resolutions of a conservative nature,” that is the direction that party members want their representatives to follow. It went on to urge the restriction of campaign help to conservative Republican candidates only, and the direction of all candidate recruiting efforts to the political right.

    The resolution did concede that “the people of the party recognize that while they cannot compel representatives to vote” conservative, “they can and do expect them to.”

    There’s your big tent!!

  • liberalhawk

    Attacking military votes in 2000, yeah, that would have been a winning strategy long term, sure.

    Yes, hes attacked Dems. hes put what he thinks is right ahead of politics (including partisanship) isnt that what Kos wants?

    If Lieberman loses, I will seriously considering switching to independent.

  • Jim

    What Joe Lieberman and all the bloggers that support him need to realize is that he represents every single one of his constituents. I don’t think Bull Moose or Noonan understand that. Both think because he supports the war, and the president on it, he is therefore the perfect democrat. Total 100% BS. He does NOT represent either of them, neither are in his constituency that I’m aware of. Maybe, just maybe the folks in Connecticut want someone that represents their views, and if those happen to be against the war, then so be it. My guess is most are not anti-war, they are anti dumbass ill-conceived, ill-prepared, poorly-run wars that cost soldiers lives and billions of dollars w/ no end in site. That isn’t anti-war, that imho is the definition of a moderate.

  • liberalhawk

    Jim,

    You seem to have missed the fact that theres a well organized national campaign to beat Joe. This isnt just about Connecticut – if it is, then let Kos and his pals stay out of it.

  • Chippedchips

    According to Jewish friends of mine living in Connecticut, as a Democratic congressional representative for at least a large part of his constituancy area…Liberman is dead as a doornail.

  • Chippedchips

    –The Patriot Diaries expresses dismay over the way it says the Democratic party is trying to tear itself apart.

    Yeah buddy…like the right wing isn’t gutting itself.

    There are so many splits in the right wing and republican party proper on so many different major issues, immigration, social security, health care, education, national debt, deficit, rising interest, to name a few, they need scorecards to keep up with it.

    November’s election should be quite as interesting as going to a dog fight; teeth, hair, eyeballs n guts all over the place.

  • Elrod

    Democrats dislike Lieberman not because of any particular stance on any particular issue, but his public willingness to use hostile media to bash Democrats. Going on Fox News and bashing Democrats is like going to France and bashing America. Nobody watching Fox News wants the Democrats to “reform.” People who watch Fox News want the Democrats to lose, period. BTW, it’s the same reason Republicans hate McCain. After all, McCain sure loves writing NY Times op-eds criticizing the Republican Party.

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