Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee member Myrna Watanabe (as well as a number of democrats) are not very pleased Joe Lieberman's close ties to the Republican party. The Manchester Journal Inquirer reported
on a testy encounter between the two at a recent town hall meeting.
In an extraordinary encounter last week with members of the Democratic State Central Committee, the senator was forced to defend his hawkish record by Myrna Watanabe, Harwinton's town chairwoman.
Watanabe, a professional science writer who took notes on the exchange, told Lieberman that while she appreciated his "very good" voting record, she wanted to know how she could present him for re-election in her town when "our people are pretty pacifistic" and were opposed the war in Iraq "from the beginning," when "our people don't support Rice," and when "they are most unhappy with Gonzales."
She said Lieberman responded that he does what he believes is right, that he didn't want the war to be used as a litmus test, and finally that he didn't have to come to Harwinton.
Watanabe said he later told other questioners that he voted for Gonzales because "like it or not," Bush is in office and "should get the benefit of the doubt" on such appointments. Lieberman also boasted of his 70 percent statewide approval rating, she added.
Watanabe said she was unsatisfied when Lieberman concluded that they had had a "difference of opinion." She subsequently wrote him saying it was more like a "gaping chasm between you and the state party's rank-and-file."
"Your 70 percent approval rating will do you no good in getting the party's nomination if our Democratic town committees refuse to support you," she warned. "You are charming, witty, and intelligent, but that may not be enough to get you our support."
Watanabe later wrote a letter
where she ripped into Lieberman and questioned if he will have the support of local Democrats during the upcomming primary.
Now, let's get back to DTCs. If the state Democratic convention were held right now, Lieberman wouldn't have the votes to get the nomination without doing some very, very, very serious arm twisting--and even then he might not have the votes. Maybe the population still likes Joe Lieberman, but his friends in the Democratic Party are having second or third thoughts about him. To some it's the votes, to others it's the war, to still others it's the Dem-bashing rhetoric, while others are concerned about the spectacle of Lieberman at Bush's elbow when Bush signs some particularly un-Democratic piece of legislation. But even more telling is that his good friends, people who've known him for 20 or 30 years and who came into politics with him or came up in the party with him, don't want to be associated with him. Months and months ago, many of them, independently, contacted Joe or his close associates and made it clear that Joe was doing himself and the party no good by kowtowing to the Bushies and by continuing his strong support of the war.
After I asked my polite question to Lieberman at State Committee last week, I started getting emails and calls from people telling me that they, too, are seriously disturbed about Lieberman's political stances. The day after the State Committee meeting, there was a meeting of 4th C.D. town chairs at which Mitchell Fuchs, the Fairfield DTC chair, lambasted Lieberman for his votes, his coziness with the Bushies, his stance on the war, etc. One town chair sent me the following email: "Tell him he doesn't have to come to XXX either, unless it's to announce he isn't going to run again." Another town chair told me, "We hate him here!" He probably doesn't have many friends on State Committee either. When he responded to my question by saying that he had a 70 percent favorable rating, someone in the back yelled out, "From Republicans!"
I don't know how this will all play out add up when it comes to the primaries but it looks like there are alot of democrats who aren't too pleased with Lieberman at this point.