Lieberman Splits With His Party on War Votes

By Chris Cillizza
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, June 23, 2006

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) further inflamed his party's liberal base yesterday by opposing two Senate measures seeking to limit the scope of the war in Iraq.

In doing so, Lieberman may have further jeopardized his chances of defeating businessman Ned Lamont in the state's Aug. 8 primary. Lamont, a political unknown until a few months ago, has drawn national attention and rising poll numbers at home in recent weeks -- especially after he drew support from a third of the delegates at a recent state party convention.

"This is further evidence of why a lot of people call Joe Lieberman 'George Bush's favorite Democrat,' " said Lamont spokeswoman Liz Dupont-Diehl.

Lieberman was one of six Democrats to vote against both resolutions offered by his Senate colleagues. Of that group, Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Bill Nelson (Fla.) are the only ones other than Lieberman standing for reelection this fall. Both Nelsons represent states that were carried by President Bush in 2004.

Connecticut, by contrast, went strongly for Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), the Democrats' 2004 presidential nominee, and polling done since then has shown rising opposition to the war in Iraq, especially among Democratic voters.

Kerry yesterday introduced the resolution calling for the withdrawal of most U.S. troops within a year.

Lieberman spokeswoman Marion Steinfels acknowledged that Iraq is an "emotional" issue, but she dismissed any impact of the senator's votes yesterday on the primary contest.

"There are a lot of other things the voters of Connecticut are worried about," she said.

As evidence, she pointed to a Quinnipiac University poll in May that showed 12 percent of Democrats said they would vote against a candidate solely because they disagreed with his position on the war.

Quinnipiac polling conducted earlier this month, however, showed Lieberman ahead of Lamont by 15 points among likely Democratic primary voters, a somewhat slim margin, given that the challenger was virtually unknown statewide and Lieberman has a long tenure in elective office.

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