Joe Lieberman Files to Run as a Petitioning Candidate

If Lieberman runs as a petitioning candidate in November, at least he won’t be without a party. He started his own so he can be placed higher on the ballot than if he ran without a party affiliation:

HARTFORD, Conn. — Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman filed paperwork Monday that will allow him to collect signatures to petition his way onto the November ballot if he loses an August primary.

Lieberman’s campaign announced the move in an e-mail to reporters.

The three-term senator faces a tough Aug. 8 primary challenge from Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont. Lieberman, who has been criticized by fellow Democrats for his support of the war in Iraq and a perceived closeness with President Bush, is popular among many unaffiliated and Republican voters in Connecticut.

Lieberman also filed papers with the secretary of the state’s office Monday to create a new party called Connecticut for Lieberman.

Marion Steinfels, Lieberman’s campaign spokeswoman, said the 25 people who signed on to help Lieberman form the Connecticut for Lieberman party will oversee the petition drive.

“This group of people that formed this committee will be the ones handling this,” she said. “The volunteers who are working for the campaign are continuing to work on the Aug. 8 primary. This will not in any way detract from winning that.”

Ned Lamont, Lieberman’s opponent in the Democratic primary says the move to petition will hurt the Democratic party. No, the move will hurt Ned Lamont. According to the June 8 Quinnipiac University poll, if Lieberman runs as an independent candidate, he defeats Lamont 56% – 18%.

Update: Ed Morrissey says Lieberman will regret creating a party in his own name should he have to run as a petitioning candidate in November.

Quite frankly, this is one of the dumbest political decisions I have seen in quite a while. What does Lieberman gain in this move? Four spaces up the ballot in a race where everyone already knows who he is. I mean, if Lieberman has to worry about ballot placement in order to get votes, then he’s practically conceding the race already.

More importantly, what does Lieberman lose? His independent run, which had the cachet of a man standing for his principles, suddenly looks a lot like a vanity project. He claims that he remains true to his Democratic affiliation, but suddenly he will have to register as a Lieberman Party member if he wants to run in November against Ned Lamont. In one fell swoop, he has underscored every criticism leveled at him by the netroots of selfishness and egotism. After all, who was the last candidate to run for national office for a party named after himself? Even Ross Perot created the Reform Party, not the Perot Party.

I understand Ed’s arguments. He may be right that Lieberman’s creating his own party so as to garner a higher ballot placement is an indication that Lieberman is not that confident in this race. However, there is quite a difference between Ross Perot’s party and Joe Lieberman’s. Perot wanted his Reform Party to be a national political party long after his candidacy. The Connecticut for Lieberman party was created, from what I understand, for Lieberman’s Senate race only. Additionally, he doesn’t lose his independent run. Instead, this move reinforces his independence. The Connecticut for Lieberman party represents Lieberman’s principles and no one else’s. He’s his own man with his own principles independent of the Democrats and the Republicans. I’m not sure I buy the argument that Lieberman has to run without any party affiliation in order to prove his independence.

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