Lieberman will not run in 2012, adviser says

Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.), the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee who angered the party by backing Republican John McCain for president in 2008, will retire and not seek a fifth term, Democratic officials said Tuesday.
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, January 19, 2011; 12:00 AM

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee who won reelection to the Senate in 2006 as an independent, plans to announce Wednesday that he will retire at the end of his term, according to an aide.

Once a stalwart member of the Democratic caucus and a leader in the party's centrist wing, Lieberman (Conn.) has spent most of the past four years in partial exile - voting with Democrats on organizational matters and some domestic issues while siding with Republicans on key issues of national security.

His estrangement from his party reached its apex when he backed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) over Democrat Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign, siding with a close friend and political soulmate over the nominee of a party that had been his home since he entered politics four decades earlier.

Lieberman, 68, has scheduled an announcement for Wednesday in his home town of Stamford, Conn. There, an aide said, he will cast himself as a politician in the mold of former president John F. Kennedy, who inspired him to enter politics and who, in Lieberman's rendering, was strong on national security, a centrist on economic issues and a liberal on social issues.

"He believes he's been consistent with that legacy since in public life," said Marshall Wittmann, his communications director.

Lieberman achieved an important item on the liberal agenda, the repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" prohibition, which was approved last month.

But even that victory was not enough to win back the full affection of many Democrats, who could not forgive him for his unwavering support of Republican President George W. Bush's Iraq war policies and for his decision to back McCain.

Lieberman faced the prospect of a potentially difficult reelection campaign, including a competitive primary, if he sought the Democratic nomination.

Instead, he decided to retire in two years, with the intention of remaining active in public life. After four terms in the Senate, he decided he wanted to open a new chapter in his life, an aide said.

Lieberman's statement Wednesday will come one day after an announcement by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) that he will retire rather than face what could be a difficult reelection campaign in two years. His seat will become a prime prospect for a Republican takeover.

Connecticut, a perennially Democratic state, may pose a more difficult challenge for Republicans. Last November, the GOP was frustrated in its hopes of picking up the Senate seat of Christopher J. Dodd (D), who retired in the face of a potentially difficult reelection race.

On Tuesday, lawmakers were consuming the news of Lieberman's decision even before it was made official. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), who is considering a 2012 Senate bid, noted that Lieberman had a career with "a lot of twists and turns" but still was "one of the giants" in his state's political history.

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