Monday, October 16, 2006

Bump in the Road for Lieberman

Polls have shown Joe Lieberman with a healthy lead in his race for re-election as an Independent in Connecticut. In the recent debate between Lieberman, Ned Lamont, and the Republican candidate Alan Schlesinger, a potential threat to Lieberman's re-election has emerged. That threat is Alan Schlesinger:

The ghost of Crazy Eddie was channeled Monday by a man who would be Connecticut's next senator -- and whose name is neither Lieberman nor Lamont.

This candidate's name is Alan Schlesinger. He is the official candidate nominated by the Republican Party to replace Joe Lieberman in the U.S. Senate. He trails both Lieberman -- who's now running as a "Connecticut for Lieberman" candidate -- and Democrat Ned Lamont by far in this fall's Senate race; Republicans are overwhelmingly backing Lieberman instead. Schlesinger has been drowned out by all the attention on the other two candidates.

So Schlesinger came out swinging -- literally, with his hands at times -- when he finally got to debate his two opponents in a televised debate. He injected a new factor into the race. Lieberman sought to focus attention, and criticism, on Lamont, his closest rival. But Schlesinger pounced on them both throughout the debate, and sought to establish himself as the conservative alternative to two "liberal Democrats."

He made his pitch to conservative and moderate voters on issues ranging such as flag-burning (only he supports a constutional amendment against it). “Don’t listen to Joe’s rhetoric," Schlesinger declared. "Watch his voting record.”

The 1-2 p.m. debate, the first of three scheduled over the next week in this home stretch of the too-close-to-call race, took place at the Stamford Marriott Hotel. It was sponsored by the Business Council of Fairfield County. Channels 12 and 30 carried the debate live.

...Schlesinger arrived pumped, too... During the debate he raised his voice, cracked up the audience with exhortations like, "Look out Ned and Joe, here I come baby!"...

Schlesinger set himself apart from both Lieberman and Lamont on issues like immigration. "Joe favors amnesty… Ned Lamont he actually wants to give them scholarships," Schlesinger said. "Alan Schlesigner is the only one on this stage who has a tough policy. I want to build the walls. I want to make sure there is no road to residency. I am the son of a legal immigrant. There are people today who attempted to come here as legal immigrants and died. Now we’ve got people flooding into this nation for no other reason than they want a better life for themselves. … We have to secure the borders… “We have to use drones.“

Similarly, while Lamont and Lieberman bickered about whether Lieberman is weak on preventing privatization of social security, Schlesinger called for investing some of the social security trust fund in home mortgages.

“Both of these gentlemen stand for social security and medicare bankruptcy," Schlesinger said. "I call the United States Senate the ostrich club… It [social security] is the greatest iceberg this nation is facing. Social security is so underfunded they make the national debt look like a litle walk in the park...”

Schlesinger's chance of winning is nearly zero. But Lieberman is depending on a substantial portion of the Republican vote to win. A recent Hartford Courant poll showed Lieberman with an 8 point lead over Lamont, and Schlesinger with just 4%. And surely Schlesinger's support comes almost entirely from Lieberman. If Schlesinger were to increase his support to just 10 or 15 percent, Liberman would probably have no chance.

With the New York Times and others set to toss dirt on Lamont's grave, his tactic becomes clear: he has to help Schlesinger win GOP votes. Note the compliments for Schlesinger from Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake:

...why has the GOP been allowed by those who call themselves "true conservatives" to abandon the candidate who supposedly represents their values? And why has the media so slavishly accepted all the narratives coming out of the Lieberman4Lieberman campaign, to the complete exclusion of the guy who legitimately won the GOP nomination?...

Alan Schlessinger kicked Lieberman's ass for the GOP vote he so critically needs to win, and Lamont gave him no quarter on the Democratic side (and looked very senatorial in the process). While there are many good things to say about both Lamont and Schlessinger in the debate today, the loser was clearly — Joe Loserman.

Expect to see more Schlesinger cheerleading from the Lamont camp. And it will be interesting to see if Schlesinger is raising money from that camp. The most recent campaign filing I see on the FEC website shows Schlesinger having raised a total of $113K. I wonder if the next report will show more donations from those who want to build Schlesinger up in order to tear Lieberman down.

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