Connecticut Senate Race: WTF?

I don’t think I’ve blogged about the Connecticut Senate race, which is odd since I usually claim to be from that state. But it will probably not come as a surprise that I’m delighted to see Ned Lamont put up a serious primary challenge to Joe Lieberman. I’ve disliked Lieberman since back in the ’90s when he was condemning video games as agents of moral decay. He’s always struck me as someone who just wants the damn kids off his lawn. But what really made me think it’s time for him to go was last year when he chastised his fellow Democrats for criticizing Bush, appealing to the extremely un-American notion that the commander-in-chief should have unconditional support during wartime. This statement made it clear that Lieberman has forgotten what his job is as a senator, and indeed as a citizen in a democracy.
There are also lots of secondary reasons, like Lieberman’s vote for cloture on Alito, that reinforce my conviction that Lamont would be a much better senator. So I know how I’d be voting if I still lived in the Nutmeg State. However, I am somewhat sympathetic to the one reasonable counterargument, the idea that it might be a bad idea strategically to have this primary fight, because it means that what was a safe Democratic seat is now a possible loss in the general election, especially with Lieberman’s decision to run as an independent in case he loses the primary. There are a couple ways the Dems could lose the seat: either Lieberman could win the general as an independent (with a grudge against the Democratic base), or (less probably) Lieberman and Lamont could split the vote in a way that allows the Republican candidate to win the seat. So far Lieberman has been campaigning in such a completely inept fashion that it’s tempting to imagine he would make an extremely poor showing without backing of the party, but the incumbent advantage is doubtless considerable.
But now the race is getting weird, because there’s a fourth candidate entering: Diana Urban, an anti-war Republican from the state Assembly, is preparing to make a Senate run as an independent. How this changes the strategic considerations I don’t know, but it definitely makes things more interesting.

5 thoughts on “Connecticut Senate Race: WTF?

  1. Justin

    I think the correct term would be tactically, not strategically. In the long-term (i.e. strategic) perspective, there’s no downside to going after Rape Gurney Joe. If the general election ends up with a Republican or Sen. Lieberman (Lieberman-CT — gotta love how he named his new party for himself), that has to be a one-termer. CT from all I know is far too liberal to put up with an explicitly conservative politician for very long. Granted, losing a Senate vote, even one as erratic as Lieberman’s, would be bad for those six years… But it’s not like Lieberman (D-CT) would do anything to stop another authoritarian wingnut getting onto the Supreme Court, anyway.
    Interesting news on Ms. Urban, I hadn’t seen that yet. Though I have to wonder where she’s been her whole life. “I am a Republican in the Lincoln/Teddy Roosevelt ilk. That’s what I am; that’s the party I represent. I don’t know where it is, and if you find it would you please tell me?” When was it that Republicans ceased to be the party of Lincoln and TR? If anyone can argue for a date later than the Eisenhower administration, I’d like to hear it.
    I was amused to see the news that Republicans in CT are now asking about changing party registration to vote for Joementum next month – I feel so sad for them that they missed the deadline two months ago. 😀
    Glenn Greenwald had (as usual) an insightful article on the race a day or two back, arguing that the Lieberman election is not so much liberals vs. conservatives as non-neocons vs. neocons. Lieberman being one of the relatively few Democratic neocons.

  2. shellock

    I actually used to like Liberman then slowly i read more and he did more to make me rethink him. Therefore i will be voting agianst him in the primary. My only concern is that somehow the democrates will lose yet another seat for the next 6 years…

  3. Mason

    Political parties tend to reshape themselves every 30 years or so (empirically, 30 has been about the right number). I wonder if my collaborator’s study will shed some mechanistic light on such reorganization.
    I have to give Lieberman credit for being well-spoken. Not that I agree with him, but he is well-spoken.
    Also, I just checked who he is cosponsoring legislation with (I only checked the 108th Senate, which covers 2003-2004), and he is doing stuff with Democrats. By contrast, in the same Senate, not only is Zell Miller voting with Republicans, but he’s basically cosponsoring stuff exclusively with them and not with Democrats. (Oh yeah… I have access to not just the committee data now but also all the legislation for the past 30 years, so we are analyzing cliques from this data using similar methods — and generalizations thereof — from what we did before. The statement I can make about Zell is actually even stronger than what’s above, but I don’t really want to start explaining technical details at the moment.)

  4. Mason

    Comment by the Fermat approach: I made a nice comment in here and attempted to post it only to see upon looking at the page that it didn’t show up.
    Here’s a shorter version:
    Political parties, by empirical observation, tend to reorganized every 30 or so years. One of my collaborators is attempting to find some of the mechanisms involved, and I’ll be interested to see what he finds.
    Lieberman: I checked the legislation cosponsorship from 2003-2004 — I now have all the legislation cosponsorship data from the past 30 years in matrix form and my collaborators and I are starting to analyze it — and he cosponsored stuff only with Democrats. By contrast, Zell Miller only cosponsored stuff with Republicans. He was basically never collaborating with Democrats. (His cliques of nearest neighbors, next-nearest neighbors, and so on until the very beginning of the graph partitioning are all Republicans. This needs more explanation, but I don’t want to write that much, especially if this thing fails to post again.)

  5. Mason

    Or maybe it did show up? I see it above me now. Errrr… when I went to main and then clicked, it wasn’t there. (I also reloaded the page to see and it still wasn’t there.)

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