March with Joerus, please
Lieberman marches alone as former allies surround Lamont
By STEPHANIE REITZ
Associated Press Writer
September 4, 2006, 4:16 PM EDT
HARTFORD, Conn. -- U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman continues to go it alone..
While prominent Connecticut Democrats surrounded U.S. Senate candidate Ned Lamont at an annual Labor Day parade Monday in Newtown, the three-term incumbent marched several blocks behind with a group of campaign volunteers, a gap that symbolized his split with the party stalwarts who once supported him.
Lieberman, the Democrats' nominee for vice president just six years ago, has launched an independent campaign in an attempt to save his Senate seat after losing to Lamont in last month's primary.
"I'm not about partisan politics," Lieberman said. "I have experience, I have seniority. Lamont is inexperienced. He's partisan."
But Lamont was the Democratic candidate officially invited to march in the Newtown parade, one of the state's biggest traditional campaign season kickoff events.
Parade organizers inadvertently invited Lieberman to march with the town's Democrats when they sent out form letters to sitting Democratic office holders and candidates. Party members there, learning of the mistake, later rescinded the offer in favor of Lamont.
There were no boos from the crowd for either Lieberman and Lamont Monday, and supporters for each cheered lustily as their candidate passed. There was a minor scuffle between a Lieberman supporter and a Lamont backer and police were called in, but no charges were filed.
Lieberman said the crowd was "warm and enthusiastic," and was "probably trying to make me feel welcome" after the flap over the rescinded invitation.
Even Republican U.S. Senate candidate Alan Schlesinger, with voter support ratings in the single digits, ended up with more prominent spot in the parade lineup than Lieberman.
Lamont, who beat Lieberman by about 10,000 votes in the primary, said his campaign focuses as much on shortcomings in the Bush Administration as in Lieberman's record. Lieberman's perceived closeness to the Republican president, along with his support of the Iraq war, angered many of the Democrats who helped propel Lamont to victory in the primary.
"He always talked about his career in politics, but that's only one type of experience. I bring a different type of experience," Lamont said Monday.
Lamont is backed by many prominent Connecticut Democrats, including former Lieberman allies U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd and U.S. Reps. John Larson and Rosa DeLauro.
Larson has compared Lieberman to former Boston Red Sox player Johnny Damon, whose switch to the rival New York Yankees upset Boston fans. But just as Red Sox fans stayed loyal to their team, true Democrats stayed loyal to their party despite Lieberman's absence, Larson said.
Some Democrats who are friendly with both Lieberman and Lamont said Monday that they were not uncomfortable over the circumstances of the parade, although they walked with Lamont.
"I know both of them, I like both of them, and it's a beautiful day," state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said
posted by Steve @ 12:39:00 AM