Lieberman’s Challenge from the Right

Posted: October 17, 2006 in 2006 Elections

Last night, I mentioned how Alan Schlesinger had emerged as the winner of the first Connecticut Senate debate and how his performance could bolster his support among state conservatives to the detriment of Joe Lieberman’s independent candidacy.

It looks like Schlesinger’s challenge from the right has rattled Lieberman’s cage enough that he endorsed John Bolton’s re-nomination to be confirmed as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Lieberman’s position would put him at odds with the other senator from Connecticut, Chris Dodd, who has been one of Bolton’s fiercest critics in the Senate and on the Foreign Relations Committee. This would also put him at odds with the other New England moderate centrist in a tight race this year, Lincoln Chafee, who voted against Bolton earlier this year. It seems to me that both Lieberman and Chafee appear to have taken their divergent positions on Bolton purely out of their own political self-interest in an election year.

Given the unfavorable political narrative shaping up for Republicans before the election, particularly with an increasingly competitive effort to maintain control of the Senate (check out these articles from Time, the New York Times, and the Associated Press from the past few days), Republicans may wind up hedging their bets and pulling out resources from Connecticut to focus on maintaining control of Senate seats held by endangered Republicans like George Allen, Mike DeWine, and Jim Talent. If that happens, Lieberman will truly be on his own, getting attacked from the left and the right during the final weeks of the campaign, with little or no money or ground operation to rally his voters on Election Day.

Update: Following up on the Bolton issue, a visit to the Senate voting record shows that Lieberman voted to uphold a filibuster against the Bolton nomination on two separate occasions. Chafee voted in favor of ending the filibuster on the same two motions.


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