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Thursday, May 18, 2006

CT-Sen: Democratic Party Convention Starts Tomorrow

Posted by DavidNYC

Connecticut's state Democratic convention begins tomorrow. The main event is candidate selection, which is done by a vote of the delegates. If any candidate gets 15% or more, s/he wins at automatic spot on the August primary ballot. Unsurprisingly, Joe Lieberman is trying to play the expectations game, making ridiculous, grandiose predictions that Ned Lamont will take 30% or or move of the delegates. To its credit, the Hartford Courant is aware of the shtick Joe is trying to pull, but I wouldn't be surprised if other tradmed outfits fall for this pathetically transparent gambit.

While it would be terrific if Lamont got 15%, and extraordinary if he did hit 30%, we need to be realistic here. Lieberman has been an institution in CT politics for decades. There is a tremendous amount of pressure to support him. Anyone interested in a future in Connecticut politics has to realize that if they back Lamont and Lamont loses, they'll be pariahs for as long as Lieberman is alive. Backing Joe is the safe move. Remember, we're talking about Democrats here - these are not the people who are usually inclined to ever take risks.

But there's also some very good news: Getting 15% doesn't matter. Not only does it not matter, it might even be salutary if Lamont doesn't hit that mark. No, I didn't just get fitted for rose-colored contact lenses. Here's why: Lamont has been working hard to get on the ballot via an alternate route: gathering signatures from 15,000 of the state's Democrats. It's an expensive and difficult process, but well worth it.

When you have to petition to get on the ballot, that does two things for you. First, you're forced to ramp up your field operation early. That means you've got a bigger volunteer base, more experienced campaign workers, and a field team that runs like a proverbial well-oiled machine months ahead of schedule. Second, you get the names of tons and tons of supporters. The law requires 15K sigs, but because of the inevitable challenges and invalid names, you generally want about twice that. And psychological research shows that the mere act of getting people to sign a statement of support (which is what a petition is) makes it much more likely that they'll continue in that support at a later time.

Successfully petitioning to get on the ballot would also be a nice feather in Lamont's cap because it would be the first time any major-party statewide candidate has done that in CT. Connecticut used to not have a petition process at all - you had to get 15% at a convention or you were out of luck. That system was recently ruled unconstitutional, so Lamont could make a little bit of history here.

As I've often said, the odds on Ned beating Joe in the primary are still long. But whether it's by delegates or petitions, as long as the tradmed doesn't get suckered by Joseph Isadore's gamesmanship, Lamont will indeed be on the ballot.

Posted at 02:14 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Connecticut | Technorati

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Ned Lamont attended a small fundraiser in Oakland, CA about a month ago. I arrived late and so I missed the first part of his speech, but I distinctly recall Lamont saying that he was confident he'd hit the 15% delegate threshold at the CT Dem Party Convention, and possibly get as much as 30% of the delegate vote. If it was true then, but not now, what's changed? If it wasn't true then, what would he have gained by saying it?

Posted by: Matt Lockshin [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 18, 2006 04:31 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

What's changed is that I don't work for Ned Lamont. :)

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 18, 2006 07:04 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Ned's challenge should be like swatting away a nat, but it's not.

Lieberman is obviously freaking out over Ned Lamont's grass and netroot candidacy, because if Lamont didn't matter Lieberman would not be trying to raise expectations, which is the game here. That CNN covered the race today tops it off.

The movement Jane Hamsher at firedoglake has created through the women's groups for Lamont, who never take chances on the long shot, is nothing short of historic.

I got the spelling right up top, didn't I, David? ;-)

Posted by: Taylor Marsh [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 18, 2006 08:40 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

So what happens now that Lamont hit 33% - does that mean Lieberman has validated his campaign? That's the one thing about predictions - they can really take a chomp out of the old gluteus.

Posted by: El Paso Rockefeller Republican [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 20, 2006 01:36 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment