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Friday, April 14, 2006

Stamford Advocate: Lieberman best stick with party

The Stamford Advocate weighs in on Lieberman's threat to leave the Democratic party and offers a piece of good advice to the three time senator.
Speaking to reporters in Hartford on Monday, Mr. Lieberman said "I am not foreclosing the option" if Democrats choose Greenwich's Ned Lamont as their candidate, The Hartford Courant reported.

Mr. Lieberman said that's because he believes he's the best man for the job regardless of affiliation. An independent run would give voters a chance to determine that for themselves.

But it must worry some Democrats who fear he would be putting the seat at risk for a second time. With no threatening Republicans on the horizon this year -- Republican Party insiders even discussed endorsing Mr. Lieberman at one point -- the only thing Democrats really have to fear is the prospect of two of their own canceling each other out.

It also might say something about how Mr. Lieberman views the threat posed by Mr. Lamont. That the three-term senator is even considering an independent run, publicly no less, indicates he is troubled by the challenge. That is despite a February Quinnipiac University poll that gave Mr. Lieberman a 68 percent chance of winning the nomination compared to 13 percent for Mr. Lamont. Perhaps Mr. Lieberman is worried about how his ardent support for the Iraq war -- and growing reputation (deserved or not) as President Bush's inside man among the Democrats -- will play out in voting booths.


At a time when Democrats feel control of Congress is within their grasp, Mr. Lieberman's wait-and-see attitude could also hurt other candidates who are relying on him. They include former Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell, who is making a second run at U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays and who's taken some heat for backing Mr. Lieberman over Mr. Lamont.

He could be hurting himself as well. Mr. Lieberman might consider that a firm, Democrat-or-nothing declaration could be the best strategy for keeping his job. The Democratic primary is on Aug. 8. To qualify as an independent candidate, Mr. Lieberman would have to produce 7,500 voter signatures the next day. News that Mr. Lieberman is out collecting names between now and the primary would not sit well with many registered Democrats, and it could nudge some of them toward Mr. Lamont.

If he really is worried about the challenger from Greenwich, Mr. Lieberman should think very carefully about that.