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Thursday, July 20, 2006

CT-Sen: Lamont Surges Ahead of Lieberman

Posted by James L.

Just a quick update before I start my work day. The latest Quinnipiac poll on the Connecticut Democratic primary is out, and it looks very ugly for Lieberman (likely voters, June in parens):

Ned Lamont (D): 51 (40)
Joe Lieberman (D-Inc): 47 (55)
MoE: ±3.8%

Lamont has made major gains over the past month, and Lieberman is in a steady free-fall. It's really quite breathtaking. However, in a 3-way match-up this November, Lieberman still holds the edge, but Lamont is shifting upward:

Ned Lamont (D): 27 (18)
Joe Lieberman (I): 51 (56)
Alan Schlesinger (R): 9 (8)
MoE: ±2%

Given Lamont's major surge, I find it increasingly unlikely that Lieberman's last-minute ground organization can deliver the votes he needs to win the primary. Lieberman has brought on some big guns to get him organized on the ground, but he should have been doing this three months ago, not three weeks before primary day. He'll throw everything he's got against Lamont, but this trend is ugly.

Update: If anyone's going to save Lieberman, it's probably going to be this guy.

Posted at 10:54 AM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Connecticut | Technorati

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Apparently, Bill Clinton is coming to Connecticut to campaign for Lieberman... Perhaps he'll "Miss his private jet flight" or something like that.

Posted by: KainIIIC [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 11:41 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Not being a resident of Conn., the outcome of the Lieberman/Lamont race would not interest me under normal circumstances.

But these are not normal circumstances.

Though I certainly can’t give Lieberman a pass for his choices of late, I also can’t cast my lot with a movement whose goal isn’t to improve the Democratic party, but to burn it down and remake it into their image.

I realize most Lamont supporters are sincere. But then there is that the rest of them who are seeking not only to oust Lieberman, but also Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Evan Bayh, Maria Cantwell, and others who do not fit into their narrow definition of what a “real Democrat” is. In Cantwell’s case, she could very well lose her Senate seat to a Republican because anti-war left candidates will split the vote in the November election.

Make no mistake, these movements to defeat sitting moderate Democrats aren’t of the grassroots variety. They are well funded from outside of each state in question. In Lieberman’s case, over 70% of the $800,000 plus raised by Ned Lamont has come from outside Conn.

This, of course, is not an endorsement by me of the Iraq war, a war that I oppose and the one issue that has raised the hackles of the left. However, in the coming years, this war will be over and a memory and I would prefer not to have Democrats-come-lately who are weak on foreign policy occupying the chambers of Congress. I don’t want to trade the ideological heirs to Truman and JFK that we currently have for the ideological heirs to Henry Wallace and George McGovern who are battling to control the Democratic party.

The last time a war divided the Democratic party, we got George McGovern as the nominee and lost in an electoral and popular vote landslide, an election that put the Democrats on a downward spiral that we’re still witnessing today.

Finally, it has not escaped my attention that Lieberman is prepared to run as an independent should he lose the August primary to Lamont. I don’t believe he should. However, similar circumstances haven’t prevented “progressive” candidates from doing, or considering, similar things.

Rep. Bernie Sanders, a confirmed socialist and lifelong Independent, has always refused to run as a Democrat and is only now agreeing to appear on the primary ballot as a Democrat for Jim Jefford’s seat. However, Sanders WILL NOT RUN AS A DEMOCRAT if he gets the party’s nomination. For this, the left has remained silent.

Was there any outrage from the left when Cynthia McKinney was considering running as a Green after she lost he seat in 2002? No. In fact, the left encouraged it.

See, I don’t really believe you’re angry that Lieberman might leave the Democratic party to run as an independent. You’re angry that in doing so, he’ll win a three-way race and, thus, foil your attempts to dispose of him.

For these reasons, for the preservation of the Democratic party as a national and mainstream political force, for the short sightedness of the so-called “progressive grassroots” movement, I cannot support Ned Lamont or any organization that does.

I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him yet, but I’m sure Ned Lamont is a good and sincere man. A part of me wishes he was the incumbent and running against a Republican. But a victory for him will only send a message that the big tent of the Democratic party is being taken down, and anyone who won’t tow a 100% ideologically pure line with the left could be a target. THAT is not the Democratic party I want to belong to.

Posted by: Red State Donkey [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 12:05 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Once again, a classic (and long-winded) misrepresentation that Lamont supporters are about ideological purity. Wrong, wrong, wrong. We are about partisan unity, something which Joe undermines almost every day. And what does this even mean?

But then there is that the rest of them who are seeking not only to oust Lieberman, but also Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Evan Bayh, Maria Cantwell, and others who do not fit into their narrow definition of what a “real Democrat” is.

If you are going to maintain this position, you need to explain why Clinton has a 70-point lead over Tasini, while Lieberman is now losing to Lamont. How could that be?

It's because Clinton doesn't attack fellow Democrats; cozy up to George Bush; and give the GOP (and the tradmed) the opportunity to claim a veneer of bipartisanship. Do many of us wish she would stake out more liberal positions? Sure. But the fact that she hasn't has earned the ire of only a very small cadre of Democrats - ie, Tasini supporters.

And for those who claim that shoving out Lieberman is an ideological purge: Most of the people who make this claim also point to Lieberman's rather liberal voting record. You can't have it both ways. If we wanted an ideological purge, wouldn't we start with more conservative senators? Oh, Ben Nelson perhaps? Max Baucus? etc. etc. Why should we want to purge someone with a pretty good voting record? Hint: It's about partisan unity, not ideological purity.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 01:23 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Yeah, I've heard just about every Gop talking point on why the Dems should keep the Senator who voted to impeach President Clinton. Ideaologically pure?? I think not, actions speak louder than purported philosophy and Joe L's actions have ahown him to be all too favorable to the gop, from his impeachment vote, Alito vote to pro-Iraq War votes. the man who questioned Wes Clark's loyalty to the Dem Party in 2004 has much nerve given his record.
On funding, who cares, I'm sure Lieberman is getting bucks from out of state and is now poised to be handed the gop nomination. Granted this is the Nutmeg State's seat however,Joe is voting on National Issues which concern & effect more than just the people/voters in CT.
If someone beleives candidates money should only come from the State they are in or take that idea to include the CD they are in, it would needlessly handicap any number of campaigns for seats that hold national impact.
The latest Quinnipiac poll shows that the people of CT do not support key Bush policies but Lieberman does, they may just send a mressage on how they feel about that fact, cause he hasn't absorbed it yet.

Posted by: Predictor [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 02:00 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Red State Donkey, 80% of Lieberman's contributions come from out of state. David and Predictor have already handled the rest of your rant.

Posted by: KCinDC [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 03:02 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I just wanted to comment that over 80% of Lieberman's contributions have come from outside of Connecticut. It is too bad that we cannot track how much of it has come from republicans. It is sad for him that they only way he can get reelected is to appeal to republican voters. They should like him. He is Bush's favorite Democrat lapdog. I will NOT support any Democrat for president who does not support the majority vote of the Democrat primary voters in Connecticut.

Posted by: IndyDan [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 03:44 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

There are plenty of conservative Democrats who cling to their party affiliation because of people like Joe Lieberman. A Lieberman primary defeat strikes me a virtual invitation for three months worth of "Democrats have just proven their lack of national security spine" ads that will be effective on their target audience.

There is nothing inherently wrong with Lamont's decision to challenge a Benedict Arnold incumbent in a primary. I have supported primary challenges to incumbents like Henry Cuellar and Cynthia McKinney in the past, but this one has national implications and diverts a month's worth of attention (at least) on division within the Democratic party rather than defeating Republicans in November. Democrats will allow the Lieberman primary defeat to be the story of the 2006 cycle and likely miss their opportunity to keep momentum alive for a political earthquake in November. I'm sorry, but I just can't agree with the netroots' logic here.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 04:25 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Sorry, something like 90% of Connecticut voters disapprove of Lieberman's position. Infact, Lieberman is the only one in the race that has the "stay the course" position... Even Republican Alan Schlesinger supports redeployment of troops.

Lieberman has been absolutely nothing but a GOP enabler, from Free Trade agreements to Social Security to the Iraqi War to Censuring the President to the Energy Bill to trashing Democrats on Fox News to being the 2nd most Conservative Democrat (slightly after Carper) that represents a Blue State.

Why wouldn't we want to purge other 'conservative' Democrats like Mark Pryor, Bill Nelson or Ken Salazar? For starters, they're all more progressive than Lieberman. Secondly, they don't appear on Hannity and Colmes and trash the Democrats. Thirdly, they do not repeat Republican talking points about the war and are not given time by the Republican speakers to debate their side.

"There are plenty of conservative Democrats who cling to their party affiliation because of people like Joe Lieberman."

really... name some.

Posted by: KainIIIC [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 04:54 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

David, if we're on the subject, I'm curious to know who in the House and Senate you'd be willing to support a primary challenge against in the 2007-2008 (because you and Markos are the less purge-happy of the four people in charge of the netroots page).

Posted by: DemocraticLuntz [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 04:58 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Lieberman, DiFi, and Herb Kohl are kind of in a tie for second (Tom Carper is in a class by himself for sucking).

Progressive Punch makes Lieberman and Kerry's records look worse than they are by counting absences which were even vaguely close (like 57-43 on something requiring a simple majority is counted as close).

I assume that's what you were quoting.

Anyway, the fact that Tom Carper has no primary challenger (even a weak one) proves that the challenge to Lieberman has more to do with Lieberman not keeping his mouth shut and away from Bush's mouth than with the way he votes.

Posted by: DemocraticLuntz [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 05:02 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Also let's be realistic here. Strategically speaking this is probably the best place to field a primary challenger, whatever the reason. If Lieberman was a Democrat from, oh, say Kansas, I doubt we would be so gung-ho about a primary challenge. I don't see anyone in the blogosphere (except me perhaps) bitching about Chet Edwards's castigation of the DCCC for its web ad that got taken down. Talk about playing right into the republicans hands! But I still would support Chet Edwards because we need him. And yes, he still does not bad-mouth Democrats as much as lieberman. But then again, he's also not a senator and does not have the megaphone that Liberman has.

Posted by: nada [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 06:36 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Mark: Conservative remnant Dixiecrats vote Dem because a liberal, northeastern Jewish Senator says nice things about the President and supports his war full-throatedly? I just don't see it. I don't think Lieberman is the thin thread holding these people to the party. And even if he is, I still feel that he does more damage to the cause of partisan unity than aid he could ever give us by bringing in would-be Republicans.

DL: Haven't thought about it yet. Got any suggestions?

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 08:09 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The only way I can see a Lieberman primary defeat being anything less than a months-long PR bloodbath for the Democrats is if the netroots somehow manages to control the post-primary debate rather than the mainstream media, who will be like sharks in a feeding frenzy if Lieberman loses. Every Sunday morning for the past month, Bob Schieffer and Tim Russert have accosted the Democratic Senator guest of the week with the "Who are you supporting in the primary?" inquiry. After August 8, if Lamont wins, that question will become even more omnipresent and will continue to haunt us right up until November.

Every Sunday morning interview will have Russert, Schieffer and Stephanopolous bombarding Howard Dean, Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid with questions about Lieberman vs. Lamont. Rather than hearing about their aggressive push to take back Congress from Republicans, two-thirds of the shows will be dedicated to watching them squirm in their seats trying to maneuver around the loaded question of "Lieberman or Lamont"? Some prominent Democrats who back Lieberman could very well spout off publicly about "the 'Nutroots' and their man Lamont" not representing what the Democratic Party stand for, further motivating the media and the opposition into a frenzy of joy. The Lamont backers, which are likely to be most high-profile Democrats if he wins the primary, will spend every Sunday morning responding to "why they refuse to support a man who has voted with them more than 90% of the time in his 18 years in the Senate" (whether an accurate depiction or not, this WILL be the media narrative unless the Netroots really thinks it can control it).

Meanwhile, Republicans in battleground Senate races will run ads against their opponent using Lieberman as their bloody T-shirt right through September and October. "How can Claire McCaskill be an 'independent voice' in the Senate like she claims when her party just voted out their former Vice-Presidential candidate because he only voted with them 90% of the time instead of 100%"? Likewise, every Senate debate in Missouri, Montana, Ohio, and Tennessee will feature local media darlings, eager to seize on what will assuredly be a story of national prominence, asking McCaskill, Tester, Brown and Ford whether they support Lieberman or Lamont, and if so, why?

Perhaps I'm overstating the significance of this Connecticut contest, but the early indication is that will the 2006 equivalent to the Hillary Clinton New York Senate race of 2000. At best, this primary will be only a monthlong distraction from the effort to take back Congress from the Republican Party. At worst, it will completely cannibalize the midterm election storyline of "Republicans in deep doo-doo". Either way, I wish the best of luck to the netroots in trying to control the media narrative regarding a Lieberman primary defeat. They'll need it.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 08:13 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Mark: All the more reason that Lieberman's decision to run as an independent is a slap in the face to the party that he claims to be such a proud member of.

Posted by: nada [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 08:36 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Mark, whatever happens as a result of Lieberman's decision to run as an independent is entirely Lieberman's fault. It's ludicrous to claim that it's out of the question or somehow unhinged for Democrats to have a primary. It's a perfectly ordinary thing, much like what's happening in Rhode Island.

In any case, I don't see how the Sunday morning shows will find much interesting to talk about in Democrats supporting the Democratic nominee. Is that news? If any Democrat is idiotic enough to talk about the "nutroots", that's surely the fault of the idiot in question, not the netroots.

Posted by: KCinDC [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 10:05 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Let's suppose Mark's scenario is correct. If you believe (as many of us do) that Lieberman's continued service as a Senator does everyday damage to party unity, then you can still believe that even in the doomsday scenario Mark outlines, we're still better off.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 10:10 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I have no affinity for Lieberman and would be more than happy to see him defeated if I didn't foresee national consequences. As high of profile as Arlen Specter is in the GOP, the Specter-Toomey primary of '04 didn't have Tim Russert putting Ken Mehlman, John McCain, et.al. on the spot each week by making them choose sides the way he and his colleagues are in the Lieberman vs. Lamont race. I concur that Lieberman is doing himself no favors with his actions and I'm now fairly confident that he'll be defeated in the primary, but still prevail in the general with the support of two-thirds of CT Republicans and independents and one-third of CT Democrats. Then again, I've underestimated Lamont thus far and perhaps am underselling his ability to win statewide in a three-way race. Nationally, however, the face-off creates a wedge for the media to obsess about and creates a perfect culture war narrative to exploit in red states where Lieberman-esque candidates like Harold Ford are trying to win.

If the good guys come out of this fight better off than they would have been if it hadn't happened, I would very surprised.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 11:08 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

You know, the only reason why guys like Tim Russert force the question is that Democratic politicians, for the most part, have been far too coy and avoidant in dealing with the issue. They're trying to hide under the table until August 8th--well, the ones that aren't openly backing Lieberman, that is.

Eventually Russert would stop asking if every Democrat had one clear, simple, consistent response: "I'll support the Democratic nominee. The rest is up to the voters of Connecticut to decide." And then your doomsday scenario will be averted to a great extent.

Posted by: James L. [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 11:28 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment


Jerry Costello, Dan Lipinski, David Scott, Albert Wynn, and of course Cuellar.

Nobody in the Senate, though.

Posted by: DemocraticLuntz [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 11:51 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Exactly right, James. Schumer should have just said that right away, perhaps adding "and I expect Joe Lieberman to be the nominee" if he wanted to. Instead he let it blow up into a controversy. It's mindboggling that the head of the DSCC should have to spend even a second dithering about whether his organization should support the Democratic nominee (barring bizarre circumstances involving serious kookiness, racism, or criminality, which clearly has nothing to do with what's happening here).

Posted by: KCinDC [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 20, 2006 11:57 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Mark and other naysayers:

I will let others argue the merits b/c there always some left leaning policy wonk who feels the need to argue with your type. I will argue the emotions: fear is not a strategy for winning. I believe some Democrat outside of CT is actually going to turn Republican over this about as much as I still believe in Santa Clause. Again, I repeat, fear is not a strategy. So pump as many of your fears into the conversation as you wish. I just wish others were like me- tired of indulging the fearful in the party. Risk has to become part of the party's vocabulary if it wants to get out of the minority status. 30 years of fear is quite enough.

Posted by: bruhrabbit [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 21, 2006 12:18 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

DL: You should start writing some diaries at DKos about Dems we should primary in 2008. We got started WAY too late to be of enough use to Ciro, and the Lamont challenge would probably have been wise to start earlier as well.

If we can get a jumpstart early enough in 2007, we can actually make some serious improvements to some of the serious dead weight in our caucus. And if Lamont wins, I think ossified Dems will start taking this possibility a lot more seriously.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 21, 2006 12:43 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

You know, you'd think that from a strong Primary Challenger, that Lieberman would start trying to adopt different positions more in the mainstream with his constituency and start to use Democratic language and, well, move to the left.

This is exactly what happened to Jane Harman, who before Winograd was a relatively cozy blue-dog in a blue district. However, after Winograd, she has become one of the biggest critics of the wiretapping program and, very little criticism has come to her as of late.

A similar thing happened to Arlen Specter in 2004.

However... Lieberman seems to be doing the exact opposite and is trying to slime his opponent using Rovian-esque ads and Republican talking points. It's disgusting.

Posted by: KainIIIC [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 21, 2006 01:32 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

KainIIIC, that is worrisome. My original hope for Lamont's challenge was that it would simply scare some sense into Lieberman, but as you say he's not reacting that way. I fear that if Lieberman survives, far from being chastened, he'll be further emboldened in his destructive behavior and start doing even more damage to the party.

Al Wynn does have a challenger, Donna Edwards, who's been getting a fair amount of netroots attention, though nothing like Lamont's, of course.

Posted by: KCinDC [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 21, 2006 09:39 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I'll have a diary ready for November 10th (we'll need at least two days to calm down from whatever happens on election day).

Posted by: DemocraticLuntz [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 21, 2006 12:22 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I don't think netroots pundits can identify districts where there should be a primary challenge to an entrenched Democrat (or Republican, for that matter). We can certainly identify conservative or lacklustre incumbents, but a credible insurgency has to start with a willing and qualified insurgent challenger inside the district.

We can all resolve to watch for such possibilities earlier in the cycle next time, and get the word out about them, but we can't make them out of whole cloth.

Posted by: Christopher Walker [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 24, 2006 11:29 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment