Primary elections were held in several states yesterday. Some of the results yielded big surprises. Incumbents Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Rep. Cynthis McKinney (D-GA), and Joe Schwarz (R-CO) lost their primary election bids. Primary incumbent losses rarely happen.
Those defeats also were due to particular circumstances (anger over the lawmakers’ votes to raise their own pay). But the overall message is that voters are unhappy with the status quo, and the two parties, who went into yesterday’s contests plotting how to spin the results in Connecticut, now find themselves confronting a bigger and potentially more threatening dynamic.
As the majority party, the GOP is more exposed to possible losses in November, though Republicans point to Lieberman’s ouster as a sign that Democratic incumbents must also watch their backs. NBC/Wall Street Journal pollster Peter Hart (D) said yesterday, before the evening’s results came in, that the Connecticut race sent a broader message to incumbents that “if you don’t listen to voters and you’re not in touch with voters, you’re going to pay a price… And it is more than the war. It is a sense of, ‘We are sorry and sad with the status quo and we are unhappy with the institutions.'” Even Lieberman is now trying to turn this sentiment to his advantage, telling NBC’s Matt Lauer that he’s “fed up” with the way things get done in Washington.
Lieberman lost to newcomer Ned Lamont. Lamont announced his candidacy only eight months ago. Senator Lieberman has been one of Connecticut’s Senators for 18 years! (To learn more about the progression of Lamont’s candidacy, click here for a great MSNBC articles that details the Lamont campaign.)
Last night, on MSNBC’s Hardball program, Joe Trippi said that this was an example of grassroots, people-powered politics, and that “something different is happening in our politics.” I agree, Joe. The more I talk with people in my area, whether they be friends, family, or even strangers, the more I hear the voice of dissatisfaction. They are ready for a change, and I believe that yesterday was just the start of the changing tide.
Several members of congress and other prominent public figures have spoken out today regarding Lieberman’s loss.
Joint statement from Senators Harry Reid and Charles Schumer today:
“The Democratic voters of Connecticut have spoken and chosen Ned Lamont as their nominee. Both we and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) fully support Mr. Lamont’s candidacy. Congratulations to Ned on his victory and on a race well run.
“Joe Lieberman has been an effective Democratic Senator for Connecticut and for America. But the perception was that he was too close to George Bush and this election was, in many respects, a referendum on the President more than anything else. The results bode well for Democratic victories in November and our efforts to take the country in a new direction.”
Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY):
Last night’s results in Connecticut should make it clear to everyone in Washington that Americans are tired of an Administration that is contemptuous of Congressional oversight of the Executive Branch. They are tired of an Administration that accuses those who would question it of giving aid and comfort to terrorists. And they are tired of a White House that disregards the checks and balances our nation was built on.
Voters in Connecticut just sent a message that it is time for Congress to stand up to an Administration that does little more than tell us to ‘stay the course.’
The American people want a Congress that will stop acting like a rubber stamp, and start doing its job, a Congress that will start exercising its constitutional authority to check an Administration intent on drastically expanding its powers at the expense of the House and the Senate – and ultimately the American people.
General Wesley Clark:
You see, despite what Joe Lieberman believes, invading Iraq and diverting our attention away from Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden is not being strong on national security. Blind allegiance to George W. Bush and his failed “stay the course” strategy is not being strong on national security. And no, Senator Lieberman, no matter how you demonize your opponents, there is no “antisecurity wing” of the Democratic Party.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel:
… Lieberman’s loss was “a referendum about being a rubber stamp” for the Bush Administration, although he made clear that Lieberman being a rubber stamp is more of a perception than a reality. “Voters are angry about the course we’re on,” he said in a conference call with reporters. “They want change. They want a new direction.” “This shows what blind loyalty to George Bush and being his love child means,”. … “This is not about the war. It’s blind loyalty to Bush.”
Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI):
“I congratulate Ned Lamont on his primary victory and enthusiastically endorse his candidacy. In this primary election, Democrats in Connecticut showed the Washington establishment what Democrats and Progressives all over the country are demanding – elected officials that stand up for the core American values we all share. From fighting for universal health care to demanding an Iraq policy that makes sense and puts our focus back on the terrorist networks that wish to do us harm, the Connecticut primary was about the core issues Americans talk about around their kitchen table every evening.
“… Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Evan Bayh, John Edwards, Barak Obama, Frank Lautenberg, Rahm Emanuel, Barbara Boxer, the DSCC, the DCCC, and Chris Dodd all throwing their support behind Lamont. Even better, Hillary Clinton cut Lamont a $5,000 check from her HILLPAC.”
But, Senator Lieberman is not giving up so easily. He filed as an independent candidate for Connecticut Senator this morning:
His campaign delivered two boxes of petitions to the secretary of state’s office in Hartford, and aides said the three-term Connecticut senator had more than enough petitions to qualify for a spot on the November ballot.
If approved, that would set up a three-way race for the fall among Lamont, Lieberman, and Republican Alan Schlesinger, who has trailed far behind both Democrats in the polls.
And in another interesting twist, is it possible that the GOP will throw support Lieberman’s way?
George Stephanopoulos: Can Karl help Joe?
According to a close Lieberman adviser, the President’s political guru, Karl Rove, has reached out to the Lieberman camp with a message straight from the Oval Office: “The boss wants to help. Whatever we can do, we will do.”
This race isn’t over yet! I can’t wait for November; not only for the Connecticut race, but also for races across the country. I see changes happening; I see the tide turning!