Lieberman Draws Mixed Reaction
HARTFORD, Conn. — Some voters asked U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman where they could sign a petition that would let him run for a fourth term in November as an independent, but a few others heckled him, calling him a traitor to the Democratic Party.
The mixed reaction at Willimantic’s annual July 4th Boom Box Parade, a traditional campaign stop for statewide candidates, came one day after Lieberman announced he would collect signatures for a potential run as an unaffiliated candidate in case he loses the Aug. 8 Democratic primary.
Lieberman acknowledged the mixed response, saying his opponent, Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont, has gained a lot of support in eastern Connecticut.
“This is all about democracy, which is what we’re here to celebrate,” Lieberman said.
Lieberman, the party’s 2000 vice presidential nominee and a 2004 presidential candidate, has fallen into disfavor from some Democrats for his support of the Iraq war and his perceived closeness to President Bush.
Lamont, who has little political experience, has called Lieberman a Republican lapdog and accused him of straying from his Democratic roots. Liberal blogs have given a boost to Lamont and call the race a chance to send a message to the Democratic establishment.
One parade float, organized by Lamont supporters, had a sign calling Lieberman a “RAT” _ Republican Apologist and Turncoat.
Kerri Smith of West Hartford, who was marching in the parade, said she doesn’t have a problem with Lieberman petitioning his way onto the ballot.
“It’s his backup plan. It’s important to cover all bases,” she said.
But Dennis Thorton of Willimantic said he’s frustrated with Lieberman and other politicians.
“He’s worried. Yes, he’s right to be worried. He’s been uncompromising on the issue of Iraq,” Thorton said. “I’m expecting a big (voter) turnout since our representatives don’t listen to us anymore.”
A June poll by Quinnipiac University predicts Lieberman winning with 56 percent of the vote if he runs as an unaffiliated candidate, compared to 18 percent for Lamont and 8 percent for Republican Alan Schlesinger.
Lieberman said he was “surprised and thrilled” that people asked him Tuesday where they can sign petitions. He said his campaign officials will decide when to begin collecting the 7,500 signatures needed to get on the ballot.
“I have one goal, to win the primary,” Lieberman said. “I’m going to be there on Nov. 7 one way or the other.”