Lieberman Wins Nomination, But Lamont Forces Primary!

Lieberman Wins Nomination, But Lamont Forces Primary! is the headline of a story in the Hartford Courant describing the rather unusual events of last evening.

U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman was nominated for a fourth term by state Democrats Friday night, but his anti-war challenger garnered enough delegates to force a primary in August. Backers of Ned Lamont, a Greenwich businessman who has sharply criticized the moderate senator for his support of the war in Iraq, shouted with delight after learning their candidate will be the first to challenge Lieberman to a primary. Lieberman won 1,004 of the 1,509 votes cast at the state convention, while Lamont won 505. Lamont captured 33 percent of the delegates, well more than the 15 percent he needed to force the primary.


Lamont said he believes the level of support he received at the convention will send a message to Washington that people are fed up with the war. “They are saying this war was a mistake and bring the troops home,” he said. “I think 33 percent of the people in the convention are telling people in Connecticut and Washington they want a change.”


The bitterness toward Lieberman and his support of the war was evident Friday night. About 60 peace activists protested outside the Expo Center. And some Lamont supporters loudly chanted “Go Home Joe” when U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., nominated Lieberman. Dodd acknowledged the discontent, saying he appreciates people who speak up about issues.

That one can simultaneously be the party nominee and yet face a party primary down the road is a bizarre concept. Either you’re the nominee or you ain’t.

Even more surreal is the idea that Lamont’s spectacular defeat is a victory. Yet, his supporters actually seem to think that.

Matt Stoler proclaims, “Ned Lamont is CRUSHING Joe Lieberman.” Even better, he is excited that, “Lieberman has $5 million of a smear and slime campaign coming. This is a big win. Time to saddle up.”

His Lamont’sown blog touts this notion:

Joe Lieberman was severely rebuked tonight by the grassroots and the insiders of his own party. Ned Lamont exceeded even Joe’s inflated expectation of 30%. There are many more who would have voted for him if they would have been allowed to vote their conscience.

Tonight was a stunning victory for Ned Lamont. The mood at the convention center is elation and celebration for Lamont supporters. The campaign is psyched. Lieberman supporters are walking away completely dejected.

So, despite getting 1004 of 1509 votes among hard core Democrats, Lieberman was “severely rebuked” and “a stunning victory for Ned Lamont”? Huh?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. John Burgess says:

    Any sort of straw looks graspable when you’re drowning. I do wish all the rebukes I’ve ever received were so petty.

  2. Elmo says:
  3. Stevely says:

    I’m sure those creepy ads with Kos helped the Cause.

  4. Brian says:

    Putting personal politics aside for a moment, (I’m a liberal who wishes Lamont would just shut up and go home. Why risk a safe seat?) I have to believe this is a moral victory for Lamont. Sure, he did not actually win the delegate count, but for a three-term entrenched incumbent to only receive 2/3 is not very good. Ultimately, I think Lieberman wins the primary, but it will be very interesting.

  5. Legal lady says:

    How anyone could consider that a “crushing” victory is beyond me! Maybe they need a refresher course on their math skills.

  6. Kent says:

    How anyone could consider that a â??crushingâ?? victory is beyond me! Maybe they need a refresher course on their math skills.

    Yeah, it would be interesting to hear Lamont’s views on education and the NEA.

  7. John Burgess says:

    Except in places like the former Iraq and Sierra Leone, a 2/3-majority win (even for an incumbent) is actually pretty good. If Lieberman had scraped through with 51%, then there might be a story here…

  8. lily says:

    Connecticut is a “machine” state and the Lamont campaign never expected more than 5%. Their plan all along has been to run as a write-in on the assumption that they wouldn’t get enough delegates to force a primary. So, with that in mind, it is a victory. I’m thrilled since I’m one of the people who sent Lamont money.
    Iraq isn’t the only issue. In fact, for me, it isn’t an important issue at all. I’m far more offended by Leiberman’s constant presence on Faux, repeating Republican talking points against the party he purports to part of, his votes on bankruptcy and other issues, and his wingnut statement about rape victims just trotting off to another hospital if they can’t get help from a Catholic facility. As far as I’m concerned, he isn’t a Democrat.

  9. Dave Schuler says:

    Yes, indeedy. In the netroots world defeat is victory. Also, war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength.

  10. G A Phillips says:

    Lily, as if not being a Donkocrat is a bad thing, you got one smart dude in your whole worthless party and you disown him, lol, lol.

  11. Roger says:

    Well stated, Lily. For those interested in learning, you do a good job of explaining why Lamont’s results can be viewed as a victory for him and his supporters. Your explanation of Lieberman’s offensiveness to most Dems nationally goes without saying.

  12. Tano says:

    Excuse me?

    A political unknown runs against a sitting three term senator, former VP nominee, one of the most well-known pols in America, and gets a third of the vote from the guy’s own party faithful, and that is not a remarkable story? Especially given the sense that everyone has about where the momentum in this race is going?

  13. Let’s see, how does that old sports aphorism go? Oh yes, statistics are for losers. And Kos and his friends are geekier than SABREmetricians.

  14. thirdparty says:

    Your link to LamontBlog describes it as “His Lamont�sown blog” (sic).

    But at the very top of the page is this disclaimer in big, bold letters:

    (This website is unauthorized and unfunded by any campaign or campaign committee.)

    I’m very interested in why right-wing blogs care so much about taking Lieberman’s side in what is a closed Democratic primary.

  15. baric says:

    If Lieberman had scraped through with 51%, then there might be a story here�

    Right… 51% is close enough to be a story, while 52% is a “mandate”

    I think this main issue here is that Lamont was a political unknown just 4 months ago and now he has drawn 1/3 of the Democratic delegates in the CT Senate race.

    If this were the primary, it would be a crushing defeat for Lamont. But the primary is 4 months away, and going from “unknown” to 33% in just 4 months certainly has the Lieberman worried about what is going to happen in August.

  16. fester says:

    I’m a Democratic partisan who has done a tiny, tiny bit of work for the Lamont campaign, and have sent money. I need to disclaim that before I go further.

    This was a victory for the Lamont campaign for the reasons Lily noted above — and it is also likely going to be in a losing cause if the definition of winning is seeing Senator Ned next January. However, one of the main pushes behind the Lamont run is to start installing progressive incentives into the calculations of Democratic politicians in much the same way that the Club for Growth has installed strong anti-tax incentives for Republican politicians. The Club for Growth has power and policy sway within the GOP despite the fact that its primary challengers to GOP incumbents very, very rarely win. However the threat of a serious, credible and well run primary challenge is often enough to make an incumbent to backdown, and even after they survive it, they don’t want to face a double campaign every cycle and toe the line better (See Arlen Specter after he beat Toomey.) If Lamont can approximate Toomey’s performance and the end result is a weakened Lieberman who is less inclined to play political arbitage against the rest of the Democratic Party for his own personal gain, than that is a net win for progressives.

    Yes, of course, the best case scenario for the netroots is Senator Ned next January, but there are wins of various degrees.

  17. Perhaps the bit about Lieberman being the nominee is just them “getting out ahead of the news cycle”.

  18. rachelrachel says:

    Ned Lamont exceeded even Joe�s inflated expectation of 30%

    If Lamont exceeded 30%, then the expectation wasn’t inflated, was it?