Lieberman Hires Republican Pollster
Joe Lieberman’s transformation into the quasi-Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate is nearly complete, now that he’s hired the top Republican polling firm.
Sen. Joe Lieberman continued retooling his campaign staff Friday, hiring a nationally known pollster and media consultant to assist in his independent re-election bid. Lieberman hired Democratic consultant Josh Isay, who has worked for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Republican pollster Neil Newhouse, who lists popular Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell among his clients.
“They are not just among the best in their respective businesses, but they bring a deep knowledge of Connecticut from across the political spectrum, which will be essential to our effort to build a broad coalition of Democrats, Republicans, and independents,” Lieberman said in a release.
Those of you who have followed my full disclosure notices are aware that my wife is a VP at POS; those who haven’t are now.
Hotline’s Chuck Todd adds,
The more curious hiring, of course, is Newhouse, a partner in one of the most prestigious Republican polling firms in the country, Public Opinion Strategies. On the merits, Newhouse is a great hire as he and his firm have one of the best reputations in the business, both with their clients and with the media, including us. But what makes the hiring curious is that Newhouse is a Republican and has a slew of clients who will likely raise the ire of Democrats, particularly activist Democrats.
This cycle, Newhouse’s most notable client is PA Sen. Rick Santorum. (Subscribers, click here of The Hotline’s consultant scorecard.) The Lieberman release, of course, makes no mention of Santorum, but does note Newhouse’s client relationship with the very popular GOP CT Gov. Jodi Rell. Newhouse is also the chief pollster for one of the Democrats’ top House targets, CT 02 GOP Rep. Rob Simmons.
In ’04, the firm worked for the biggest Dem killer of the cycle, John Thune, who knocked off Tom Daschle. And in ’02, the firm’s biggest name client? None other than a Bush, Jeb Bush, that is, in FL.
It’s a surprising move, to be sure. POS has a varied public policy clientele but, as far as I know, has been exclusively Republican in its political clients through its fifteen year history. Then again, President Bush and RNC Chair Ken Mellman have all but endorsed Lieberman’s candidacy. Presumably, they’ve made the calculation that they’re not going to lose clients over this one.
With this and Santorum, they’ve easily got the two most high profile races this season. It’ll make for an interesting three months.
UPDATE: Looking through my old posts to see what I’ve written about Lieberman in the past (160-odd posts mention him, probably putting him behind only 2004 nominee John Kerry among active Senators) I came across this from December 2003:
I feel sorry for Lieberman and think he’s probably the Democrat currently in the race who is both most suited to govern and who would be the most appealing in the general election.* But he sold his soul to be Al Gore’s running mate, sacrificing much of his main selling point–integrity–in doing so. And he got nothing in return. The Democrat faithful still don’t like him all that much and even Gore isn’t grateful. Indeed, for a man who got elected to the Senate in part because of the active endorsement of National Review and the support of conservatives tired of Lowell Wiecker, it is somewhat ironic that he’s come full circle: the only people who support him now are Republicans.
That seems more true now than then. For example, SSP’s James L. is positively apoplectic in a post entitled “CT-Sen: Lieberman Hires Democrat Slayer” (Note to self: See if Neil already has this t-shirt.):
The most troubling bit about the news may rest in the fact that Newhouse’s other Connecticut client is Rep. Rob Simmons, who is a top target of the DCCC and Joe Courtney. Lieberman is now essentially using Republican tools, Republican capital, and Republican consultants to mobilize the same Republican voters that Courtney and the other Democratic challengers need to de-energize in order to win. The pure gall of this move is disgusting, and it paints a sharp picture that Lieberman is for himself and himself only. He doesn’t care about electing three new Democrats to the House–he’s more than willing to toss them overboard if it means he can work the Republican field and win.
I wonder how Lieberman’s Senate Democratic colleagues feel now that they know that Lieberman is paying the same guy who ended the political careers of Tom Daschle and Max Cleland. I wonder if they feel as good about letting Lieberman keep his seniority and committee assignments.
Or, maybe the Democrats should have re-nominated the 2000 VP candidate who helped make Florida a toss-up and who votes with the caucus 90% of the time?
UPDATE: Some discussion over at Crosstabs, although nothing yet from POS’ Rob Autry. Former POS’er Bob Moran is laughing hysterically–or as much as one can in text form, anyway.