As Atrios notes, it’s hard to overstate the significance of the staggering blow Ned Lamont dealt to Joe Lieberman yesterday. I’m getting reports fast and furious that Joe is bolting the party, Joe will run as an independent, Joe will take over as the head of state central for the Democratic Party. I doubt anyone really knows at this point, even Joe. But one thing is for certain — it was a grenade tossed in the middle of the Democratic party by the netroots, and it has the potential to ignite a war.
Our good friend Colin McEnroe has this to say in the Hartford Courant today:
There were stories circulating on the floor about Lamont voters who stayed home rather than show up and be squeezed by the rest of their delegations. And several Democratic elected officials admitted to me they were voting for Lieberman in the public forum of a convention while fully determined to vote for Lamont in the privacy of a booth.
I think 33 percent is a pretty bad number for an incumbent senator to give up to a challenger nobody ever heard of. Certainly, the Lamont team members were staggering around like dazed lottery winners. "Pinch me," Lamont campaign manager Tom Swan told a comrade. The Lieberman team was acting like they knew it all along. "Can we count or can we count?" Lieberman manager Sean Smith languidly told a reporter. He was unpersuasive. It may have been a number that tumbled out of their worst-case game theory, but it certainly was not a number they wanted.
The real number is lot worse for Lieberman than 33 percent. I don’t know how big the Lamont vote would get if you could tabulate the no-shows and the sleeper cells of delegates who plan to vote differently in the primary, but I do know it’s a bigger number. And the convention is full of party regulars, usually the easiest people to keep in line. Wisdom of the ages would suggest that the "amateur" voters are potentially much more rebellious.
As Kos has shown before, per the last Rasmussen poll Lieberman stands a better chance winning a three-way race as an independent in November than he does in a Democratic primary against Lamont, and those numbers are old. Ned’s awareness level is going to shoot up as a result of yesterday’s vote. An independent bid would allow Lieberman to run to the right, which is where he feels more comfortable anyway. He needs Republicans to win and he won’t be afraid to court them.
But should Lieberman run as an independent, not only will he have made fools of Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton (who supported him based on his promises that he would run as a Democrat). Reid will most certainly be forced to remove him from his committee appointments, and Chuck Schumer will have to face his worst fear: will he support the Democrat Ned Lamont, or the independent Lieberman? As he told Pach the other day, a lot of that turns on who Lieberman commits to vote for as minority/majority leader. In addition to being "an organization of incumbents," as Schumer says, the DSCC is scared shitless Lieberman will win and caucus with the GOP.
So their choices will be: a) cut a deal with Lieberman to caucus with the Democrats if he wins and stay out of the race, or b) throw everything they’ve got behind Lamont and take a stand for the soul of the Democratic party. Tom Watson is reporting today that big Democratic donors in New York — the ones that constantly shovel all that money toward Schumer and Hillary Clinton — are suddenly starting to take Lamont very, very seriously. It could be a big threat to the DSCC incumbency protection racket.
Astute observers will note that choice a) above depends on Lieberman keeping his word. Hey Harry, how’s that "independent" deal with Lieberman working out for you?
I’ll add one more thing, regarding Digby’s comments today, with which I concur: we backed Ned Lamont with everything we had not because we thought it was going to be easy, or because we thought a win was either likely or even possible. We did it because it was the right thing to do, because we HAD to, because the only other option was to sit back and watch every value we believe in turn to ashes in the wake of opportunistic politicians who care for nothing but stocking their own larders. That we have come so far, and have shaken the complacent elements of the party to their foundations is nothing short of remarkable.
(graphic by NeoJoe)
Note: You can donate to Ned on our ActBlue page here. FDL has now raised over $30,000 for Ned, making us the biggest single blog donor to his campaign.