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I've found that I have very little left to say about the looming primary between Ned Lamont and Joe Lieberman. In times like these, it's good to go back over the ground we've trod, and see how we ended up here. First of three parts.
It's worth noting that there had been rumblings in Connecticut Democratic circles about a challenge to Lieberman for years. Anti-Lieberman talk had long circulated among progressive activists, as expressed by Daily Kos and the local website Dump Joe.
John Orman, a Fairfield University professor and Lieberman critic, flirted with a run against Lieberman in March of 2005 but dropped the bid by September after raising very little money.
For our purposes, the chronology will start in late 2005, when Lowell Weicker was considering getting into the race.
November 29th, 2005
Joe Lieberman goes to Iraq, lauding the “progress” being made there. Reaction from Democrats is harsh.
Dec. 4th, 2005
At this time, there are strong rumors of Lowell Weicker possibly running against Joe Lieberman as an anti-war candidate. Stories from CLP here and here.
December 6th, 2005
Weicker talks about his potential run in the New Haven Independent. He also says he wouldn’t run if an anti-war Democrat emerged.
A rumor surfaced in the comments section of this post about some guy named Ned Lamont, which was the first I had heard of him. Apparently, he had been discussed by Democrats for some time beforehand.
(Note: Personal rumor mongering, not reflecting personal opinions or any campaigns I am currently working for.)
One email I received which was copied to nearly two dozen people listed two people whose names I have heard before in this context: Ned Lamont and Gary Collins.
Ned Lamont is from Greenwich. I believe he was a major bundler for Kerry and has contributed a lot to the Democratic Party.
Gary Collins 'served as Connecticut counsel to John Kerry for President' and 'was a leading Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress in Connecticut's Second Congressional District'.
I don't know if these are the two people that are reported to have contacted Weicker.
Another rumor that is less substantial but interesting is that Jim Smith, CEO/President of Webster Bank is considering running. This may well be a simple rehashing of the rumor from a month ago that he was going to run for the 5th CD.
Meanwhile, the Draft Weicker movement seems to be picking up steam and I expect we'll be hearing more in the press and in the blogs in the coming days.
2:18 PM, December 06, 2005
No one was impressed.
On rumored Democratic opponents:
Edward Lamont is a long-term contributor to Joe Lieberman - not a big plus in his credibility column. He contributed $500 to Lieberman in each of these years - 2003, 1999, and 1993 - according to Open Secrets. He also played both sides of the fence, donating $500 to Chris Shays in 1998.
As a succesful African-American, Gary Collins would give Joe fits in a Democratic Primary.
His candidacy would also give Dem turn-out a huge boost in the 2006 general.
As such Gary has my vote over the Greenwich guy, who I couldn't Google much up about except that he attended Harvard, and then Yale. (If someone has some real info about Lamont, please share it here.)
It was very difficult to find information about Lamont. We wouldn't know more about him until January.
Dec. 7th, 2005
Someone sets up www.draftlowellweicker.com.
Dec. 8th, 2005
Lieberman is rumored to be replacing Donald Rumsfeld. It didn't turn out that way.
Dec. 9, 2005
Harry Reid says Lieberman is “alone” on the issue of the war.
"I’ve spoken to Joe Lieberman and he knows he’s out there alone. I mean, literally alone. Joe is a fine man, he has strong feelings, but he’s just alone. Even Republicans don’t agree with Joe."
Dec. 13, 2005
Lieberman’s poll numbers slip a little overall, slip a lot among liberals, according to SurveyUSA. The war is to blame.
Dec. 19, 2005
A Rasmussen poll shows Weicker badly trailing Lieberman.
All was quiet until January--at least publicly.
January 4th, 2006
Manchester passes a resolution criticizing Lieberman over the issue of the war.
January 6th, 2006
A big break occurs when Ned Lamont surfaces on Daily Kos as a possible challenger to Lieberman.
Several sources have suggested that "Political Junkie," who posted the report, was in fact a well-known Connecticut reporter. Also, the Hartford Courant was persuing the Lamont story at the time it broke on the blogs (a piece on the story's growth is here). Still it did break on the blogs first, and helped to establish Lamont's relationship with the blogging community.
Everybody starts getting excited. A flurry of research turns up very little on Lamont.
January 11th, 2006
Lieberman is still doing well in polls, Quinnipiac reports.
Lamont is interviewed on WTIC and makes a pretty good impression. He is still rough around the edges at this point.
Lieberman suggests, for the first time, that he may run as an independent should he lose the primary.
January 13th, 2006
Lamont interviewed on My Left Nutmeg. This is the first time Lamont was interviewed by a blogger.
January 17th, 2006
Lamont appears at La Paloma in Hartford to talk with possible supporters.
Lamont answers six questions for this site. He has already been interviewed on MLN, WTIC and the Hartford Courant. An often-quoted passage from Lamont:
I believe that we as the Democratic party should and I as a senator would push back against some terrible policies, starting with the wrong headed invasion of Iraq and ill-advised tax cuts, and stand up forcefully for a Democratic agenda, which includes healthcare reform, education reform, and energy conservation. The Senator can speak for himself; I would oppose the nomination of Judge Alito since he jeopardizes a woman’s right to choose, I would oppose education vouchers since they undermine our commitment to our public school system, I would have strongly opposed federal intervention in the Terri Shiavo case, I would have pushed for energy conservation and bio fuels as a better alternative than the liquefied natural gas plant in LI Sound; I would oppose diverting social security taxes into private accounts, and I would replace American troops on the front lines in Iraq with Iraqi troops as the first step towards bringing our troops home.
January 18th, 2006
The live Q&A with Lamont on this site draws plenty of interest. Aldon Hynes writes a summary of the conversation.
Lamont, at this point, is still being cagey about whether he’ll run.
Several opinion pieces come out over the next week suggesting that Lieberman may be in trouble (here and here). Lamont is touring the state gauging support at this time.
January 28th, 2006
Lowell Weicker comes out in support of Lamont, but doesn’t rule out running himself if Lamont loses. This is, for all intents and purposes, the end of Weicker's candidacy.
Lamont stops at the New Haven Public Library and is greeted by an enthusiastic crowd.
January 30th, 2006
Lieberman votes to end debate over the confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Democrats aren't happy.
However, the New Haven Register notes that Lieberman is tacking left, possibly in response to a Lamont challenge.
February 2nd, 2006
Windsor Democrats censure Lieberman over the war.
February 6th, 2006
Tom Swan leaves CCAG to work on the Lamont campaign.
February 7th, 2006
Lamont had been saying throughout January that he would run if 1,000 volunteers from Connecticut signed up to work for him. He gets 1,000 on the 7th. National support is also strong. A Netroots fundraising page on ActBlue is set up on the 9th.
He then forms a campaign committee. Rumors say he'll announce in mid-March.
February 16th, 2006
A Quinnipiac Poll shows Lamont behind Lieberman 68% to 13%. This is the first poll in which Lamont's name is mentioned, but 93% of voters have no idea who he is.
February 18th, 2006
A Rasmussen Poll shows an independent Lieberman ahead of Lamont and a generic Republican in a three-way race. However, Lieberman's lead in this situation among voting Democrats is only about 11%.
February 22nd, 2006
Lamont asserts that he'll be announcing his candidacy in March in an interview on WTNH.
February 23rd, 2006
Chris Dodd backs Lieberman and calls a potential primary challenge "harmful."
Big-name Connecticut Democrats and labor unions express support for Lieberman at a rally in Hartford.
February 28th, 2006
Chris Shays says the GOP is considering endorsing Lieberman. Shays also says that he will vote for Lieberman himself.
Over the next week Lamont is busy heading around the state, to Torrington, Danbury, Yale and many other locations.
March 9th, 2006
Lieberman finally answers six questions that I put to him in January. Jerk.
March 13th, 2006
Lamont announces his candidacy at the Old State House in Hartford. The Lieberman campaign puts out a press release calling Lamont "negative and angry" and the announcement a "predictable but dishonorable" attack on Lieberman's character. In fact, the announcement was pretty mild, and barely mentioned Lieberman at all.
Thus the tone is set, and two campaigns--one remarkable and one an absolute disaster--get underway.
I will post the next part of this chronology, which will take us up to the convention, later.
Update: Part 2 is here.