Facing a challenge from the Democratic left, the first commercial of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman's re-election campaign casts him as a fighter of "big-oil Republicans."
The ad is the first in a series that is expected to emphasize Lieberman's progressive credentials and his battles with the GOP, a departure for a Democratic senator who has prided himself as a leading bipartisan voice in Congress.(Pazniokas)
The Lamont campaign dismissed the ad and suggested that its very existence is good news for them:
"It's clear to me that Sen. Lieberman is trying to inoculate himself for voting in favor of Dick Cheney's energy bill," said Lamont's campaign manager, Tom Swann. "It also shows that he is worried that we're for real." (Pazniokas)
At this point I don't think anyone is disputing that Ned Lamont is for real. He seems on pace to win the required 15% at the upcoming Democratic convention to be on the primary ballot in August.
I sat down today with Sean Smith, Joe Lieberman's campaign manager, to talk with him about the race.
The Lamont campaign seems to be gaining in momentum, and is attracting Democrats who are very angry with Senator Lieberman. When asked about the cause of this anger, Smith said that he believes that the cause lies not with Lieberman himself, but with Democratic anger towards the Bush Administration.
"They can't beat Joe Lieberman in a primary; but they can beat George Bush," he said, referring to the claim that Lieberman is too close to the Administration. The association with Bush that Lamont and others have drawn is one the campaign is hoping to turn around.
Smith also believes that the recent favorable media attention Lamont has recieved will not last.
"This is a time when any challenger enjoys something like a honeymoon period as they arrive on the political scene," Smith said. "He's been able to generate the coverage that he should at this stage."
But Smith believes that honeymoon period will soon end.
"Lamont is having his best days now," he said.
Pazniokas, Mark. "Senator Starts On-Air Campaign." Hartford Courant 29 March, 2006.