Tuesday, August 22, 2006
HARTFORD, Conn., Aug. 21 -- Critics of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman's independent run to keep his job attacked on two fronts Monday, with one group asking an elections official to throw him out of the Democratic Party and a former rival calling on state officials to keep his name off the November ballot.
Staffers for the senator from Connecticut, who lost the Aug. 8 Democratic primary to Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont, called both efforts dirty politics. The senator filed as an independent candidate a day after the loss, running under the new Connecticut for Lieberman Party.
A group whose members describe themselves as peace activists asked Sharon Ferrucci, Democratic registrar of voters in New Haven, to remove Lieberman from the party, arguing that he cannot be a Democrat while running under another party's banner.
The request could lead to a hearing in which Lieberman, the Democrats' vice presidential nominee in 2000, would have to argue that he still adheres to the party's principles.
"The law is pretty clear he is no longer a member of the Democratic Party in good standing," said group leader Henry Lowendorf. "There was an open vote, and he was voted out. He joined a different party."
Ferrucci said she would research the request, the first of its kind in her two decades on the job.
Lieberman campaign manager Sherry Brown branded the effort "dirty political tricks at its worst."
"This kind of ridiculous, partisan game-playing is not going to provide anyone in Connecticut with better jobs, better health care or better schools," she said.
Since losing the primary, Lieberman has referred to himself as an "independent Democrat" and said he plans to remain part of the Democratic caucus in Washington, even though several leading Democrats have called for him to give up his independent run.
Lieberman, popular among Republicans and unaffiliated voters, led Lamont by 12 percentage points in a recent statewide poll, with Republican Alan Schlesinger far behind.
John Orman, a Democrat who gave up a challenge to Lieberman last year, argued in complaints filed with the state Monday that the senator should be kept off the Nov. 7 ballot.
Orman, a Fairfield University professor of political science, accused Lieberman of creating "a fake political party" and added: "He's doing anything he can to get his name on the ballot."