Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Shock Wave from Lieberman Race ; Ned Lamont's Victory Impacts Both Parties in the Run-Up to November and Even into 2008

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Shock Wave from Lieberman Race ; Ned Lamont's Victory Impacts Both Parties in the Run-Up to November and Even into 2008

Article excerpt

Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman's defeat in the Democratic Party primary has sent a shock wave across the American political landscape, reverberating beyond this November's midterm elections and into the 2008 race for the presidency.

By the time the returns were in Tuesday night, showing Senator Lieberman losing to antiwar businessman Ned Lamont 52 percent to 48 percent, the sight of the 2000 vice presidential candidate losing his party's nomination for a fourth Senate term did not come as a surprise. Polls had shown Lieberman trailing for weeks. Still, the loss came as a stark reminder to all Washington politicians that the support of the voters back home can never be taken for granted - especially if their position on a central issue, in this case the Iraq war, differs markedly from that of a critical mass in their own party.

"It shows the discontentment among Democrats both at [President] Bush and many of his policies - particularly the war - and their desire that the leaders of the Democratic Party in Washington take a more aggressive stance against the administration than Senator Lieberman did," says Howard Reiter, head of the political science department at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.

As political players across the spectrum spun and analyzed the result, Lieberman himself pressed ahead with an independent candidacy, setting up a three-way general election Nov. 7 that pits him against Mr. Lamont and a weak Republican, Alan Schlesinger, who has faced embarrassing allegations about gambling habits. Polls taken before his primary loss showed Lieberman winning such a three- way contest, pulling majority support among Republicans and independents.

But the postprimary world has changed, and Lieberman's prospects are uncertain. Many of his closest Senate allies are now backing Lamont, and his ability to raise funds and organize as an independent remains an open question. Wednesday morning, state Democrats held a unity event with Lamont on the steps of the state capitol in Hartford.

Republican leaders quickly portrayed the Lieberman loss as an example of the Democrats' "cut and run" approach to Iraq and a desire to purge those who believe in a "strong national defense."

The Lieberman defeat "reflects an unfortunate embrace of isolationism, defeatism, and a 'blame America first' attitude by national Democratic leaders at a time when retreating from the world is particularly dangerous," Republican national chair Ken Mehlman told the City Club of Cleveland Wednesday morning.

Democrats of all stripes fired back. In a conference call with reporters, Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, head of his party's House campaign committee, saw high energy among Connecticut Democrats that will carry through until November. "This should be a flashing red light to the Republican Party," he said, noting the other incumbents, a Republican and a Democrat, defeated in primaries Wednesday. …

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