Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Lieberman's No Democrat! A Democrat Wouldn't Choose To Run As An Independent Just To Hold On To Power.
Lieberman camp remains mum after Lamont insists he agree to back primary winner
By Don Michak / Journal Inquirer
A former Democratic state chairman's suggestion that U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman run for re-election as an independent should he lose a party primary was portrayed as irrelevant today by a top aide to the three-term incumbent.
Lieberman's campaign spokeswoman, Marion Steinfels, also repeatedly ducked questions about whether the senator was considering collecting the signatures that by state law would allow him to be listed as an independent candidate on the November ballot.
A spokesman for Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said today that she had received no inquiries from any potential candidate about the steps required to become a petitioning candidate for U.S. senator.
The spokesman said the rules require that such a candidate circulate petitions obtained from the secretary of the state's office within any of the state's 169 towns and return them for verification by the town clerks by 4 p.m. Aug. 9, the day after the Democratic primary.
The petitions are then returned to the secretary of the state's office, which must verify the candidate has at least 7,500 signatures.
"The senator has said that he's always been a Democrat and will always be a Democrat, and that all his efforts are focused on winning the Democratic primary," Steinfels, Lieberman's spokeswoman, insisted. "We're completely focused on Aug. 8, and Joe is going to win."
The spokeswoman's comments came as John Droney, a longtime Lieberman ally and former Democratic Party chieftain, urged Lieberman to immediately start collecting signatures in the event that he were to lose the primary to Greenwich cable executive Ned Lamont.
Droney also branded the contest as "ridiculous."
"I don't believe that a small minority of voters should decide whether or not a three-term U.S. senator, whom I consider a patriot, should be returned to office," he said today. "About 150,000 or 160,000 people will vote in that primary, and when we have about 2 million registered voters in Connecticut, that sample is too small and too radical to accurately reflect Connecticut's viewpoint."
Droney said he had not made his suggestion personally to Lieberman or to his campaign staff and that he had "no idea" of the chances that the senator would heed his advice.
"But I hope he does," he added. "What's really going on here is that you have a national coalition of extreme left-wing bloggers attempting to punish a sitting U.S. senator who doesn't agree with them. And they are putting this on a national stage so they can move on and take control of the Democratic Party nationally and statewide. I think it's incumbent on the leaders of the party to tell these people to go home, that they've got no business using Connecticut as a nuclear blog testing ground."
Lamont, a former Greenwich selectman whom Gov. Lowell P. Weicker appointed to head a state panel overseeing the state pension fund, surprised many by winning twice as many votes as he needed at the Democrats' statewide nominating convention last month to force the primary.
His candidacy, propelled by his opposition to the war in Iraq, has attracted considerable national attention as his poll numbers have risen sharply.
Lamont on Monday began airing radio advertisements pointedly challenging Lieberman "to level with voters about his intentions should he lose the Democratic primary."
"I'll pledge to back you 100 percent if you win," Lamont says in the spot. "And for the good of the party, you'll pledge to support me 100 percent if I'm victorious. What do you say, senator? May the best Democrat win."
The Lamont camp today followed up its latest commercials by asking supporters to add their names to an on-line petition asking Lieberman to accept Lamont's challenge.
"Even if he officially abandoned the party long after leaving its principles behind, we will still win in November," Lamont campaign manager Thomas Swan said in an e-mail message. "What the move would do, however, is divide Democrats across the state, putting in peril campaigns for governor and competitive, top-tier House races. That's why it's so important for you to sign the letter to Senator Lieberman and forward the radio ad to your friends."