The Path Forward for Lieberman

Lieberman is considering running as an independent.  Because of CT election law, it will be very hard for Lieberman to compete in the primary and get on the ballot as an independent.  The likeliest path forward for him is to test his strength at the convention, and based on that decide whether to run as a D or an I.  From his perspective, he probably has a better chance in the general against Lamont than he does in the primary, so dropping out and running as an independent might be the most rational move, though it would be costly.  So watch the convention carefully.

If Lieberman drops out of the primary to run as an independent, it's going to be very strange for a lot of stakeholders.  First of all, the DSCC and Senate Democrats will be thrust into some very awkward positions.  Does Lieberman keep his committee assignments?  Does the DSCC come in on Ned Lamont's behalf?  These are questions they should be considering.

And then there's the CT Democratic Party itself.  They will lose Lieberman's money for the coordinated campaign, and Democrats like Dianne Farrell have already endorsed Joe.  Would they pull the endorsements?  I'm really tired so I haven't thought this through, but I would get ready for some weird political moves.

Watch the convention and Ned's delegate strength.  And realize that for Joe, who is perceived as popular in CT, running as an independent isn't just a last resort; it's actually a pretty rational move.

Update: Riehl World View is encouraging Lieberman to join the Republican Party.

Tags: Connecticut, Joe Lieberman, Ned Lamont (all tags)



Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

And then there's the CT Democratic Party itself.  They will lose Lieberman's money for the coordinated campaign

Would they necessarily? I mean, Lieberman could still give, couldn't he?

by DavidNYC 2006-04-09 07:32PM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

But they'd be turning out a lot of Lamont supporters, so he wouldn't want to the party to be running GOTV on his dime.

by kilb 2006-04-09 07:56PM | 0 recs
It's basically poor sportsmanship
If he can't win playing by the rules, he'll take his ball and go elsewhere.
That is soooo Eric Cartman.
by ChgoSteve 2006-04-09 07:33PM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

If he decides ro run as a Dem & risk losing to Lamont, he has my support still.

If he tries to run as an Independent he is forever dead to me.

by Epitome22 2006-04-09 07:37PM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

It is a rational move, that screws Diane Farrell. Read my post seriously, then call Lamont and tell him to quit.

by Democraticavenger 2006-04-09 07:38PM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

I believe it is worth the risk, for the DSCC and the DCCC will be forced to air advertisements Lieberman as well as the Republican candidates seeking reelection.  Lieberman will have to raise money from independent sources and from his base, while Democratic party organizations will be obligated to support Lamont.  

The real questions fall on the Connecticut Democratic party organization.  Will municipal organizations support Lamont?  Will municipal organizations convince regional leaders to endorse Lamont?  Will the Connecticut Democratic party endorse Lamont?  And will the DC Democrats provide the funds for Lamont to define himself against Lieberman and thereby make all elections within the state a referendum on the war and out of touch politicians?  

I believe it is possible, but the entire campaign will have to be coordinated from precinct leaders to Chuck Schumer.  And establishment Democrats as well as other Democrats in Congress will have to repudiate Lieberman if he switches party identifications.  With the correct managing this could be done.

by illinois062006 2006-04-09 07:52PM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

I have read your post, and I understand your very reasonable fears.  But I don't think they add up to a fair argument for Lamont dropping out of the race, or even for people to stop backing him.  Leiberman has made the unreasonable threat, one that, as you illustrate so clearly, not only puts himself above party symbolically but in very tangible ways, as he will actively hurt several Democratic candidates if he follows through, and by extension the Democratic opportunity to retake the House.  But this type of behavior is exactly why Leiberman has aroused so much animosity among Democrats: he puts personal expediency above political solidarity and even sometimes principle.  To ask people not to support his opponent because he has threatened to hurt the party, well, that's a hard, hard pill to swallow.  

I really think the threat/reward dynamic should work the other way.  If Leiberman stays in the party, works to help other Democrat candidates, and beats Lamont, then so be it, the party should support him in November.  If he leaves the party, sabotaging the Democratic effort to retake the House, then he should become a pariah among Democrats in the Senate.

by antidoto 2006-04-09 08:07PM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

Not to mention that prissy holier-than-thou manner he has, plus his droopy-dog voice.

by beerwulf 2006-04-09 08:15PM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman
The established Dems and DSCC will support Joe even if he goes indy.
He's been in there for so long,t hey will back his play.  Though the most pragmatic thing would be to stay out.
by Sam Loomis 2006-04-09 07:51PM | 0 recs
Not so sure
That would up the ante considerably, infuriate some millions of people, and lead to a day of reckoning.
by MikeB 2006-04-09 08:40PM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

Democrats like Dianne Farrell have already endorsed Joe.  Would they pull the endorsements?

Of course they would.  They endorsed a nominal Democrat; when he betrays the party, he voids the endorsements.

by carlmanaster 2006-04-09 07:53PM | 0 recs
The hidden subtext

If you read Lieberman's comment on this you'll notice that he wistfully talks about how he hopes there won't be a primary.

But Lamont has already announced. So what the hell is Lieberman talking about?

It's simple: Lieberman wanst Lamont to drop out and he wants the Democratic party to do whatever it can to pressure Lamont to do just that. By openly threatening to leave the party Joe is putting the party on notice that they either give him the nomination by acclamation or he's going to stab them in the back.

I disagee that this is a rational move on Lieberman's part. It is actually a sign of desperation and weakness. Incumbents often ask their parties for and often get a free path to the nomination. But the maneuvers to make such a thing possible (offering favors, making threats) are usually done behind closed doors.

The fact that Lieberman is so publicly calling out his own party suggests that Joe doesn't have the power behind the scenes to make Lamont a non-entity. He has already pulled in all his chits to get all the local Democrats in Connecticut endorse him. But even that didn't force Lamont out.

Lieberman has no tricks left to play behind the scenes, so he is publicly threatening the party to do what needs to be done to give him what he, Lieberman, thinks he, Lieberman, deserves.

Lieberman is weak and he knows it.

by Chris Andersen 2006-04-09 08:44PM | 0 recs
Makes sense for Joe

Matt's right: it's a very rational decision for Joe to make. It's all in what you think is more important: the party or the man. I know the obvious would be to say the former, but it's not as easy a question to answer as you may think.

Insofar as the party promotes progressive policies, then the party's more important. If the party's not promoting those policies, but a candidate is, then the candidate takes precedence. Most of the time, the two dovetail, so the question's rendered moot, but not always.

Let's think about a hypothetical: let's assume that Lieberman gets 75%-90% of the vote at the State convention in May; should Lamont continue on to the primary? Or should he run as an independent?

Before you all start retorting that, of course Lamont's gonna get more votes than that at the convention, bear in mind that we only have anecdotal evidence that Lamont's doing well. The folks casting votes at the convention are, quite likely, your activist folks in the party--exactly the folks that should be flocking to Lamont, if Lieberman has in fact alienated folks back home that much. If Lamont does badly there, in a situation where a vote for Holy Joe would likely be met with great opprobrium, how's he going to do better in a situation where folks voting will be the only ones knowing which way they went?

Moreover, people in house parties and town meetings are notorious for giving you lots of attaboys and then doing either little or nothing to help you achieve your goals. So, to me, the anecdotal evidence that I've seen people use to justify their claims that Lamont's going gangbusters is a bit suspect.

Full disclosure: I'm not entirely familiar with how the "caucus" nominating process works in CT. If there's a mechanism for finding out how many delegates each candidate has, I've not been aware of it.

by Arkhangel 2006-04-09 09:03PM | 0 recs
Lieberman's true colors are showing.

"If I'm challenged I'll take the party down."

Why do some "Democrats" have so little belief in democracy? Why are they so against allowing voters a meaningful choice?

The answer is that they are not and never were "small d" democrats.

I say call holier-than-thou Joe and tell HIM to quit the race -- or go ahead and run as a Republican since he's one of them anyway.

by Sitkah 2006-04-09 09:08PM | 0 recs
What hidden subtext?

Chris: Just having an opponent in a primary doesn't make you weak. Lots of established candidates have primary opposition, and it doesn't denote weakness.

I've worked for insurgent candidates before, and I'm working for one now. But their mere presence doesn't indicate anything, except that the system allowed them to file for candidacy.

Yeah, Lamont's making waves, people in the blogosphere are getting hyped. So? That's happened before, and there's precious little to show for all the hyping.

You want to know what will make my ears perk up? Winning the state convention. If Lamont can do that, then he'll have a shot. If you're going to strike at the king, and not kill him, you have to at least give him pause. That's what we had to do in the last insurgent campaign I worked for (Mike Miles, CO, 2004). And we still lost the primary, 73-27.

It's a rational move for Lieberman because he's popular across the spectrum, and most folks like him a lot. Whether we like it or not, we're not representative of most voters; we're very much the exception. Lieberman's a member of a party that doesn't exist; he's not a Democrat, but he's not a Republican, either. If anything, he's a mod. And before you start retorting by saying, "Iraq! Iraq!", bear in mind that that's not a party-identifying issue--there are Republicans who oppose the war in Iraq (it's true!) and Democrats (Holy Joe, of course, but Biden and Clinton, too) who support it.

by Arkhangel 2006-04-09 09:17PM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

Thank you for reading the post. The point is not that this good behavior, but in fact there is nothing we can actually do to stop Lieberman from running as an independent. We can't be actively trying to boot him from the party and at the same time, insisting it is  disloyal for to bolt. He is just like someone on a sinking ship, getting into a life boat. Politicians taking their seats very seriously and will do anything to get re-elected. Make no mistake if, he runs as an indepedent he will win. So why if you were him would you let 100,000-150,000 decide your career?Just because you love the Democratic Party?

by Democraticavenger 2006-04-09 10:19PM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

I agree with you, there's no way to force him to do anything.  But neither do I think it's fair to ask Lamont to drop out because Leiberman threatens to do something that would hurt Democrats.

by antidoto 2006-04-09 11:03PM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

Democrats can kick him out of party committees and ruin his seniority in the Senate.  Unless the Republicans allow him to caucus with them, that's a lot of lost time.

by Matt Stoller 2006-04-10 05:07AM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

Why wouldn't they?  It's an easy way for the Republican Party to say "the Democrats are too extreme, and bad on national security.  Why, look, they even booted out Good Ol' Joe!"

by Adam B 2006-04-10 05:44AM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

It might also put Joe into a position where the Party he decides to join has the majority in the Senate.  If, in our wildest dreams the Dems win in RI, OH, KY, MO, MT and even VA (with Webb), then Holy Joe (assuming he wins) gets to decide whether the Senate is 50-50 with Cheney the deciding vote or 51-49 with Reid as Majority Leader.   If Reid has not backed Holy Joe, which side will he jump to?

by Mimikatz 2006-04-10 08:20AM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

Why would he "certainly" win as an independent? It would a three-way, right? Don't underestimate the difference in the public perception between a threat and actually abandoning ship. Barring the GOP filing no candidate for themselves and endorsing Lieberman, you'll have a very unpredictable three-way.

Which might as well mean Lieberman will en up retiring right away, to avoid the disgrace of losing.

by PoliticGeek Pro 2006-04-11 03:22AM | 0 recs
When will Lieberman retire?

How old is he? I can't wait until this farce is over.

by Populism2008 2006-04-09 11:08PM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

The question is if he runs and wins as an independent- who does he caucus with? Thats the question reporters should start asking NOW. If he says he would caucus with the Democrats I could probably care less, if he plans on caucusing with the Republicans- well that puts us in one hell of a bind.

by js noble 2006-04-10 12:46AM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

This is the only question that matters.

by Professor Foland 2006-04-10 03:15AM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

Is this the type of Democrat we want representing us in Congress? Challenge me and I'll take my money and leave the party.

Now that's a good Democrat?

by michael in chicago 2006-04-10 03:49AM | 0 recs
It's a Red Herring

Lieberman does these things: take , for example, his run for the presidency in 2004.

He never had a chance, but his supporters - wanted him to be a voice for the Israeli lobby.

What he's doing now, is attempting to turn away the hounds from his own trail. His declaration of independence is a red herring.

He won't do it. Call his bluff.

by turnerbroadcasting 2006-04-10 03:59AM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

This would be a bad move for Lieberman.  Is he actually speculating on this publically?

First, Lieberman is more likely to win the primary than Lamont.  Its very difficult to defeat incumbents in general elections, and primaries are even worse than that regard.  Also, Lamont's campaign goes against the grain of the state political tradition, which is to elect relatively conservative Democrats and relatively liberal Republicans.

Second, this reinforces the whole "Lieberman is not really a Democrat" idea, which is Lamont's strongest argument.

And why would the DSCC endorse an independent over a nominated Democratic candidate who supports the party platform and who has a good chance of winning in the general election?  Lamont is a more reliable vote for Durbin and Reid than Lieberman.  Even at the county and town party level, its not like Lieberman is some sort of northeastern Huey Long, who controls the party machine.

by Michels 2006-04-10 04:16AM | 0 recs
I'm voting for Lamont

I'm a delegate to the convention and I'm voting for Lamont. The State Party keeps telling us we have to support Joe, but every town Democratic Committee I talk to is voting Lamont.

The convention will be a HUGE slap in the face to Joe Lieberman.

by JJonMyDD 2006-04-10 04:54AM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

What if Joe Lieberman wins reelection as an independent, and then doesn't caucus with the Senate Democrats?  What if that keeps Democrats from having the majority in the house?  Will all of your slavering and baying at the moon have been worth it then?

by SeanBroom 2006-04-10 06:16AM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

Mind you, I don't live in Connecticut, so make what you will of my opinion.

If Lieberman is selfish enough to do it, then it's fine by me.  I doubt he'll vote differently than he does now--I mean, he's representing a blue state, has acceptable positions on SS, abortion, the environment, etc. and I can't see why he would change them and endanger his ability to get elected, or reelected if he is successful this year.

However, he will lose the support of the Democratic apparatus, and will completely jettison any national ambitions (if he hasn't already!).  We also have a chance (albeit slim) to have a real progressive elected from a blue state.  As far as I'm concerned, Joe's threat says all that needs to be said--he isn't really a Democrat at all, just an opportunist.  Let him do what he will--the loss of this sort of "Democrat" doesn't really hurt the party at all.  

by paul minot 2006-04-10 06:23AM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

He would be another Jeffords--for the GOP.  He could be able to decide which party in in the majority.

I'm not saying this dictates what to do; I'm just saying that people should make decisions on the clearest possible vision of the playing field.  No decisions need to be made until after the convention.  The GOP won't take advantage of any weakness on Joe's part, because they need him.

by Mimikatz 2006-04-10 08:25AM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

Still he has to answer to the electorate in Connecticut.  So I don't think he would swing over to the right and vote pro-life, anti-Social Security, anti-environment, etc.  Let's face it--he's not a reliable Democratic vote in the Senate anyway, so why would he sacrifice his moderate positioning to a Republican party in apparent decline?

We really have nothing to lose if Joe jumps ship.  He, on the other hand, will lose his standing within the Democratic Party forever.  So if he can be defeated this time, he is gone for good.  And if Connecticut by chance elects a Republican, we can be pretty sure it will be a Shay/Pell style moderate who will be disinclined to stand with the wingnuts in a pinch.  Especially in the environment we are likely to have after the November elections, where there will likely be a lot of close votes, a lot of scrutiny, and escalating Republican disunity.    

by paul minot 2006-04-10 09:10AM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

I don't like what Armando did with his response to Matt on My Left Wing. He made it seem like Matt was endorsing Joe jettisoning the Democratic Party. In reality he's making a cold analysis of political options for a selfish politician - not supporting Lieberman's potential tactical move.

I don't think Lieberman will prevail if he runs as an independent either. It will be interesting however to see how the DSCC responds.

by Intrepid Liberal Journal 2006-04-10 09:54AM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

Link to Armando's Diary

I agree that the national and state party establishment need to respond to this. I think they should make it quite clear that he will lose all Democratic perks (committee positions, DNC support, DSCC support) if he begins collecting signatures for an independent run. If he leaves the party then we need to look at this a top-tier senate pick-up.

I disagree with calling out Stoller for not bringing all of this up when Armando doesn't even suggest anything, but anger and non-acceptance by the party.

by Jawis 2006-04-10 10:50AM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

Ditto. Armando's critique of Matt was pretty unhinged.

by Quarterbackjoe 2006-04-10 12:13PM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

I agree with everything you said. The Dem's do have to respond and Armando was wrong to accuse Stoller of endorsing Lieberman's tactics. How the Dem's respond will be very revealing I think.

by Intrepid Liberal Journal 2006-04-10 08:20PM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

Arkhangel: Just having an opponent in a primary doesn't make you weak. Lots of established candidates have primary opposition, and it doesn't denote weakness.

I didn't say having a primary opponent makes Lieberman weak. I said that Lieberman's public threat to the party that they better get Lamont out of the race or he is quitting the party is a sign of Lieberman being weak. If he was strong he (1) wouldn't have to make that kind of threat and (2) wouldn't have to make it publicly.

by Chris Andersen 2006-04-10 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

I guess he has us there. Hard to argue with that sort of thinking...

all right. all right. I'll vote for that stinking sack of pus.

boy he sure knows how to sweet talk, ol man Joe does. filthy crapular fungul infection that he is.

I remember a kid who did something like this in third grade. His friends deserted him and the bullies still gave him daily wedgies on the playground. and nobody cared. Even the teacher hated him.

by shermandem 2006-04-10 10:34AM | 0 recs
Re: The Path Forward for Lieberman

"Lieberman is weak and he knows it."

What would be fairer to say is that Lieberman recognizes that he is weaker within his own party than among the general electorate.  In fact, he suspects he's pretty strong among the broad mass of voters, and can take votes from both sides.

I suspect there's going to be a lot more of this in the years to come.  If party allegiance doesn't get you anything but people calling you names (see above), then why not be a free agent?  Parties are breaking up like the studio system in Hollywood in the 50s.

by Mgmax 2006-04-10 10:48AM | 0 recs


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