Well, the dust has settled on Connecticut and the three way race for US Senate is beginning to look like … well, a two man race.
Ned Lamont, a wealthy first timer at national office, stunned the establishment by upsetting incumbent US Senator Joe Lieberman in last week's primary. The established democrats have swung their support away from Sen. Joe and endorsed Lamont. Few national Democrats want to show that they are willing to buck the party's vote on August 8th.
High ranking GOP officials, including Vice President Cheney and presidential advisor Karl Rove took time to comment and even called the defeated incumbent offering the support and encouragement. The White House refused to endorse GOP nominee, Alan Schlesinger. Independent fundraising operatives with strong ties to Republicans are refusing to get involved which leaves a huge opportunity for an independent firm and candidate to attempt to get the traditional GOP money.
Tony Snow, Press Secretary for the President, said that the state party in Connecticut has asked the White House "stand down" on the Senate race. When pushed about that request, Snow said it was not unusual for a state party to ask the White House not to participate in a race. However, Snow ignored a request for an example. Actually the dialog went like this:
Snow: No, actually, there have been races in the past where candidates didn't meet the expectations of the local parties and Presidents have stayed out, Democrats and Republicans, in the past.
Reporter: I'd like to see a list.
My question would be that if a candidate "didn't meet the expectations of the local parties", why did the local parties allow the person to receive the nominations? Only the most naive of observers would think that the party leaders couldn't affect the outcome of a convention or primary race. They do all of the time.
But the fact about this race is that Sen. Joe said he would still caucus with the Democrats if re-elected. And actually, his voting record since the election of Bush in 2000 shows that rarely is Joe and the President in lock step. One of the few issues where Joe has agreed with W is the one issue Lamont used to his benefit, the war in Iraq.
Would it benefit the Republicans if Lieberman wins re-election? Other than support for the war, probably not. But you can bet that Lamont is not going to be one of the 14 members to agree to be in the middle of a Senate confirmation hearing for judicial appointments.
So, what will be the outcome in November and beyond? I still think that Sen. Joe will win the general election and I plan on going to Conneticut to see the race for myself.
After Joe's re-election, the party bosses and fellow Democrats in the Senate will rally around Joe and say everything but "really, we were with you all the way." The White House will quietly congratulate the winner and make sure that he knows that they helped make the general election a two man race.
But one thing is for sure, there will be paybacks. You can count on that. There always are.