There are many conclusions to be drawn from Joe Lieberman's decision to launch a cut-and-run campaign, but the one drawn by The Hill this morning isn't one of them:
A Lamont victory in the Aug. 8 primary could present another hurdle for Democrats Diane Farrell, Joe Courtney and Chris Murphy who are vying to oust GOP Reps. Christopher Shays, Rob Simmons and Nancy Johnson, respectively, in a state where Democrats have dominated in recent national elections.
"Democrats have a much better chance of winning if Joe Lieberman is at top of the ticket," said Bill Andresen, Lieberman's longtime chief of staff-turned-Dutko Worldwide lobbyist. "General elections are determined by moderates and centrists, not liberals. This kind of split hurts those House candidates."
That's just bunk. I went to a barbecue here in Connecticut last on the 4th with many of those same candidates, local Democrats, Ned Lamont and others. NOBODY was talking about the need for Joe's leadership at the top of the ticket; just the opposite. Joe's support of the war has them all tongue-tied over the issue because their Republican opponents keep using it against them -- they've either got to keep quiet about it or they're forced to run against Joe, and he's holding the state party purse strings. No, the hurdle they were deeply worried about was Lieberman continuing in the race after August 8 as an independent, and about that prospect they were quite furious.
There are three tight races for congressional seats here in Connecticut, and the concerns of those involved in all levels could not have been clearer. If the Democrats resolve their ticket in August and move forward with a consolidated party effort toward November, the races are tough -- particularly Diane Farrell's -- but winable. If Joe defies and divides the party, sucks all the oxygen out of the race, hijacks all the money, media time, volunteers and resources to this specific contest it's going to be tough going in November.
Make no mistake about it -- Joe Lieberman's decision to run as an independent could throw three Congressional seats to the GOP, and destroy Democratic hopes to take control of the House in the fall.
I think it's great that Hillary Clinton has stepped out and said she'll support the Democratic candidate in the fall, let's hope more will follow her lead. But I think people should be thinking about the larger implications as well. Especially if they were toying with the idea of showing up here in Connecticut and campaigning for Joe, who is simply taking his campaign to damage the party in order to further himself to a whole new level.
(Joe already showed he could give a hang about local Democrats earlier in the year when he marched in a parade with GOP Congressional candidate Nancy Johnson at the Memorial Day Parade in Waterbury, above.)
I realize local candidates are afraid to speak out against Lieberman because he has threatened to suck up all the state party's money in order to promote himself if need be and cut them all off, but it would be nice to see some leadership from people like Chris Dodd who should be looking out for the good of the state party, period, and get out of the Joe Lieberman protection racket. Joe has turned local Democrats against each other in an ugly battle -- it was the Blue and the Gray over potato salad yesterday, with lifelong friends turning their backs on each other as Joe forces everyone to choose sides. If Dodd is hoping to make a 2008 Presidential bid, right about now would be a good time to stop running for cover and do the right thing.