When Ned Lamont announced his official campaign against U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman in March, no one thought the Greenwich businessman would pose such a threat. Now, six months later, and with a significant win in the Democratic primary, Lamont is hoping to bring a senatorial change in Connecticut.
The Democratic primary, held Aug. 8, declared a victory for Lamont, who received 52 percent of the votes from registered Democrats, defeating Lieberman’s 48 percent of votes.
“Lieberman was polling strongly until March. It was a quick turn around,” said Sean Duffy, associate professor of political science, about Lieberman’s defeat.
Duffy explains it was just like “the perfect storm.” Lamont was just the right candidate with the right events at the right time. Lamont, who unsuccessfully ran for the Senate in 1990, gave many Democrats the chance to voice their growing opposition to Lieberman.
Lamont’s appeal to Democrats may stem from his blatant disapproval of the Iraq war, but his strong campaign focus on state affairs, such as education and city aid seems to be exactly what many Connecticut Democrats want.
“Lamont’s major criticism is Lieberman’s lack of response to Connecticut voters,” Duffy said.
Lieberman, a three-term incumbent, refused to accept the primary results as the final answer, especially since voter turnout was relatively low. He quickly petitioned enough signatures to remain in race in the general election as a third-party candidate, calling it “the Connecticut for Lieberman” campaign.
Lieberman’s choice to run as an independent candidate elicited a number of reactions among voters.
Robert Guerrera, a senior broadcast journalism major, said: “To see [Lieberman] running as an independent is a joke. He was a Democrat for all those years and now all of a sudden he’s an independent? I was happy to see him lose [the primary].”
Jennifer Bowen, a senior nursing major, reacted similarly to Guerrera, saying: “I know that even though [Lieberman] changes his label doesn’t mean he changes his views, but in a way he did. He built his whole career on being a Democrat.”
Nonetheless, Duffy is not surprised by Lieberman’s switch from the Democratic party to becoming unaffiliated.
“It is definitely consistent with his past history. Lieberman never really saw himself with a party label,” Duffy said, adding that the senator always did have some Republican support.
Moreover, it is because of Republican support that Lieberman has been able to stay ahead in the polls. In fact, the QU Republican organization is backing the incumbent candidate.
As of Aug. 17, a Quinnipiac poll found that Lieberman, running as an independent, had support from 53 percent of likely voters, while Lamont took in 41 percent, and Republican nominee Alan Schlesinger had four percent.
Connecticut voter Blair Donahue is among many people who approve of Lieberman. The Quinnipiac graduate student in the MAT program, said: “So far, I think Lieberman has done a good job as senator.”
Lieberman, who served as the Connecticut Attorney General from 1982 to 1988, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1988. He also ran for Vice President of the United States under Al Gore in 2000.
Lamont founded Lamont Digital Systems, making the progressive Democrat a very affluent Fairfield County resident. He has served two terms as selectman in Greenwich, and he currently runs a business-training program for students at a public high school in Bridgeport.
Other candidates campaigning for the U.S. Senate seat are Green Party nominee Ralph Ferrucci and Concerned Citizens Party nominee Timothy Knibbs.