Monday, July 31, 2006

Lieberman – Lamont

The primary endorsements are out. Jonathan Alter (Newsweek) notes that throwing Joe-mentum under the bus is the last thing that the Democrats need.

The nightmare scenario for the Democrats is that Lamont wins the primary, and then Lieberman wins the general election as an independent. (Of course, if Lamont wins the primary, there will be all kinds of pressure exerted on Lieberman to drop out of the general election.)

The risks:

A Lamont primary victory will be trumpeted, rightly or wrongly. by many as a victory for the netroot / Kossak wing of the party. Since they have been beating this drum for months, they will step up efforts to assume a stronger role in the party via fundraising, organizing, etc. This is likely to tug the national party further to the left in the run up to November, potentially harming the national effort, at least to the extent that it is perceived as being run by the far left.

Democratic leaders will be pressed to go to Connecticut to campaign for Lamont, and help with fundraising. Lieberman will have to raise his own cash and run a focused, no frills campaign. If Lieberman wins in November, it won’t be surprising if he carries a grudge. He’ll also be freed from any sort of internal party discipline.

As a result, if the Democrats pull off a major victory in the Senate, and come out 50 – 49 – 1 in the senate, and the one is Lieberman, it may take a whale of a deal to persuade him to vote for Harry Reid as Majority Leader. Likewise, if the Republicans retain the majority, but by a smaller margin, a reduction in Lieberman’s vote from 90% democratic to 70% democratic could be significant.

I don’t expect Joe to turn into the next Zell Miller, but my guess is that if he wins as an independent, there’s going to be a whole lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth on the part of the Left.

There's something very odd about wanting to virtually expel someone from your party who was the candidate for Vice President only 6 years ago... Not like there's been any scandal or corruption issue with Joe, just a guy who takes protecting the country seriously.