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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Senate Democrats upset with Lieberman

Seems like Joe's in a tough spot.
A group of Senate Democrats is growing increasingly angry about Sen. Joe Lieberman's (D-Conn.) campaign tactics since he lost the Democratic primary last week.

If he continues to alienate his colleagues, Lieberman could be stripped of his seniority within the Democratic caucus should he defeat Democrat Ned Lamont in the general election this November, according to some senior Democratic aides.

In recent days, Lieberman has rankled Democrats in the upper chamber by suggesting that those who support bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq by a certain date would bolster terrorists’ planning attacks against the U.S. and its allies. He also sparked resentment by saying last week on NBC's Today show that the Democratic Party was out of the political mainstream.

Democrats are worried that Lieberman may be giving Republicans a golden opportunity to undermine their message.

"I think there’s a lot of concern," said a senior Democratic aide who has discussed the subject with colleagues. "I think the first step is if the Lieberman thing turns into a side show and hurts our message and ability to take back the Senate, and the White House and the [National Republican Senatorial Committee] manipulate him, there are going to be a lot of unhappy people in our caucus."


Allowing Lieberman to retain his seniority could put the senator now running as an independent in charge of the Senate’s chief investigative committee. If Democrats took control of either chamber they would likely launch investigations of the White House’s handling of the war in Iraq and homeland security.

"Lieberman’s tone and message has shocked a lot of people," said a second senior Democratic aide who has discussed the issue with other Senate Democrats. "He's way off message for us and right in line with the White House."

"At this point Lieberman cannot expect to just keep his seniority,” said the aide. "He can't run against a Democrat and expect to waltz back to the caucus with the same seniority as before. It would give the view that the Senate is a country club rather than representative of a political party and political movement."