Connecticut is about to see what it is when most party leaders are friends with an independent candidate who wants only to rejoin them and there is no Republican threat.
Yes, 40 years ago it would have been unthinkable in Connecticut for someone holding any special position in a party to support an independent candidate. But Connecticut's parties have disintegrated a lot since then. (Powell)
The entire piece is well worth a read (some nice history about former Speaker Richard Balducci, who was from my old hometown of Newington, Lowell Weicker and Tom Dodd), but the upshot, that party endorsements really don’t help at all in an age of party disintegration, is pretty accurate.
Which means that the endorsement of Bill Clinton, which didn’t help Lieberman at all, probably won’t help Lamont either. It also means that the endorsement of Jim Amann, who I guarantee you a majority of Connecticut voters have never even heard of, will mean nothing as well.
Politics today seems to be more about individual loyalty instead of party loyalty. And why not? What good are the parties? The Democratic Party in Connecticut is an aging, creaking conglomeration of competing interests, haphazardly cobbled together into a body that is impressively large, but ultimately non-functional. The state Republican Party is a mere rump of its former glory, without even the strength to rid itself of a stubborn and doomed Senate candidate.
Neither has anything approaching the unity or discipline seen regularly in the days of Henry Roraback or John Bailey. This is also true on the national level, although the Republicans are a little more unified than the Democrats. Really, though, personal loyalty seems very able to trump party, especially where Joe Lieberman is concerned. That's why the Republicans aren't pushing for Schlesinger's removal. That's why Karl Rove can call the Lieberman campaign with offers of support, despite the fact that he's a Democrat. There's loyalty there. Same thing with Amann.
Which makes efforts like this and this pretty interesting. The Democratic Party's membership, or at least a small (but, following Lamont's win, newly powerful) part of it, is trying to enforce a discipline that hasn't existed for decades--if it ever existed at all--on the leadership. To them, partisanship is not an obstacle, but something to be strived for, as they persue a return to power for their party and an effective block against the Bush Administration.
The bonds of individual loyalty are still very strong, though. It's likely that Jim Amann won't change his mind, and that he won't suffer any consequences for his endorsement of Lieberman.
At least for now.
Powell, Chris. "Democrats' party loyalty show for Lamont was a charade." Journal-Inquirer 14 August, 2006.