Friday, August 11, 2006

Democrats are right to "abandon" Lieberman

A banner headline across the top of the Nation/World section in yesterday's Herald-Times declares "Democrats abandon Lieberman". Democratic leaders in the Senate, including Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Chuck Schumer are now backing Lamont against an independent Lieberman candidacy.

This is what I expected they would do, and what they should do. Lieberman is now running against a Democratic candidate, not running as a Democrat in the party primary. What message would it have sent if Clinton, Kerry and Schumer were supporting an independent candidate over their party's nominee and ignoring the choice made by the majority of Democratic primary voters in Connecticut?

Well before Tuesday's election, Lieberman was talking about running as an independent of he lost the primary. I am sure this arrogance cost him quite a few votes with Democrats. If he wanted to run as an independent candidate in the general election, he should have filed as an independent instead of running as a Democrat. Now, Lieberman looks like a sore loser who thinks he has a divine right to his seat in the Senate. Lieberman needs to recognize that the voters of his party chose someone else, let go of his ego and step aside gracefully.

This would not be happening in Indiana, because we have a "sore loser" law that prohibits a defeated primary candidate from running in the general as an independent. This is a good law, and the Connecticut legislature should consider passing one as well. A sore loser should not be allowed to throw a monkey wrench into the general election because he did not get his way in the primary.

There is a lot of talk now about the political implications of Lieberman's defeat by an upstart challenger from his left. I do not think these results are indicative of anything other than the dynamics of primary elections, where the party's "true believers" are more common than moderates. The "true believers" were not satisfied with Lieberman's support for President Bush, just as the "true believers" in Pennsylvania were not happy with Arlen Specter's voting record in 2004.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in November. Lieberman's candidacy could allow a Republican to win with a plurality, handing what has been a "safe seat" for Democrats to the GOP. Lieberman, while he has a history of dominating his Senate races, may have trouble even coming in second, which would be a serious blow to whatever political influence he has left.