Connecticut Senate: Lieberman Faces Serious Test From Lamont

June 27, 2006 · 12:01 AM EDT

National Democratic insiders aren’t pulling many punches when it comes to Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (D-CT) primary in Connecticut against businessman Ned Lamont. They are saying that Lieberman could lose.

The senator is having considerable problems with older white men, and his allies are counting on strong support in the minority community and from women to squeeze out a victory over the anti-war challenger.

But Republicans did Lieberman no favor this week with recent floor votes on Iraq, and the senator stayed true to his principles by voting against both Democratic resolutions. That undoubtedly gave Lamont and the anti-Lieberman crowd more ammunition to make their “he’s out of touch with us” argument.

Lieberman’s refusal to say that he will abide by the results of the primary and rule out an Independent bid is also giving Lamont’s folks just what they want — evidence that Lieberman isn’t a “real” Democrat.

In fact, many observers believe that Lieberman could win a three-way general election more easily than a two-way Democratic primary, and the senator apparently is trying to keep his options open. Given the uncertainty of the primary, that’s a wise course, even if it also hurts him in the Democratic race, since his ultimate goal is winning another six-year term to represent Connecticut in the Senate.

As in many contests, turnout will be critical. Nobody is certain whether the timing of the primary, August 8, when many people are on vacation and out of the state, will help one candidate or the other.

Many insiders seem to believe that allies of Lieberman will begin a petition drive to get him on the ballot as an Independent sooner rather than later, just in case that’s the only way for him to appear on the ballot in the fall. So even though the Democratic left could score a victory in the primary in August, Lieberman might still have the last laugh in November.

This item first appeared on Political Wire on June 23, 2006.