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July 19, 2006
Will Israel Rescue Joe Lieberman?

The ongoing battle in Connecticut's primary has taken a back seat to the war erupting between Israel and Hezbollah. However, the conflict may have its own impact on the Ned Lamont - Joe Lieberman race, as the AP reports, while the New York Times notes that Lamont has struggled to find more issues than just the war to attract voters:

Pro-Israel groups, afraid of losing one of their staunchest supporters in Congress, are pouring money into beleaguered Sen. Joe Lieberman's campaign as he tries to fend off a tougher-than-expected primary challenge. ...

Pro-Israel political action committees have donated to the Connecticut senator's campaign and have urged their national membership to give generously now and later, if Lieberman is forced to run as an unaffiliated candidate.

"Joe Lieberman, without exception, no conditions ... is the No. 1 pro-Israel advocate and leader in Congress," said Mark Vogel, chairman of the National Action Committee, a pro-Israel political action committee. "There is nobody who does more on behalf of Israel than Joe Lieberman. That is why he is incredibly important to the pro-Israel community."

With Israel under fire, Lieberman's presence might be seen as critical to the pro-Israeli voting bloc. That may re-energize Lieberman's campaign, which has operating on the defensive ever since Lieberman announced that he would run as an independent if he lost the primary to Lamont. The war gives him another justification for doing so; he could certainly argue that as an Orthodox Jew, he intends on maintaining a strong voice for Israel in Congress.

At any rate, it certainly will motivate contributors who appreciate his strong support of Israel during any circumstances. It may also motivate others who oppose Israel to complain about a "Jewish conspiracy" in Connecticut. We can certainly look forward to some fireworks if the election plays out along the analysis by Susan Haigh.

Lamont, meanwhile, has a different kind of problem -- he's looking to break out of the single-issue mold:

Ned Lamont has become a political sensation in Connecticut by being a multimillionaire who wants the troops out of Iraq. But he would love, love to get people talking about other things than his wealth or the war.

Mr. Lamont breezed past Iraq the other night at a fund-raiser in Stamford for his campaign against Senator Joseph I. Lieberman. Instead he delved into Israel, jobs, Terri Schiavo, and his beef with Don Imus, the radio talk show host, who recently called Mr. Lamont a “bug-eyed pencil neck geek.”

“Imus is incredibly popular here in Fairfield County, so I have to deal with that,” Mr. Lamont said in an interview afterward. “People need to know the real me, not just the war and the money, if I’m going to pull this off.”

He doesn't have much more time to make the case. The primary election is less than three weeks from now, and if Lamont hasn't made an impact on any other issues, he will have to do it immediately. One problem for Lamont is that Lieberman's Senate record puts him in the center of his party caucus. The Minority Leader, Harry Reid, has a more conservative record than Lieberman, as does Joe Biden, although barely.

In order to woo voters, he either has to show himself as radically more liberal than Lieberman -- perhaps in the Barbara Boxer realm -- or cast himself as a Lieberman opposed to the war. The latter option pigeonholes him as a single-issue candidate, however. The former has its challenges, too -- since Barbara Boxer is presently campaigning for Joe Lieberman.

I think Lieberman will win the primary, although it may be closer than he would like. I thought that before Hezbollah attacked Israel, but with that event now erupting, I think it plays to Lieberman's benefit, both in the American affection for Israel and the desire to rely on the proven in times of crisis. I also think we won't have seen the last of Ned Lamont.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 19, 2006 8:06 PM

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» Hezbollah To Lieberman's Aid? from It Shines For All
"Pro-Israel groups, afraid of losing one of their staunchest supporters in Congress, are pouring money into beleaguered Senator Lieberman's campaign as he tries to fend off a tougher-than-expected primary challenge," the AP reports. "Joe Lieberman, wit... [Read More]

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» Senator Joe Lieberman Watch: Will Israel - Hezbollah War Sink Ned Lamont? from FullosseousFlap's Dental Blog
Sen. Joe Lieberman , D-Conn., speaks with reporters during an interview with The Associated Press in Hartford, Conn., Friday, July 14, 2006. Lieberman, facing a strong Democratic primary challenge, said Friday he has nearly $4.3 million cash on hand f... [Read More]

Tracked on July 20, 2006 7:00 AM


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