- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 13, 2006

Democrat Joe Lieberman is picking up endorsements from Republicans across the country, while the National Republican Senatorial Committee appears to be dismissing its own candidate in Connecticut’s Senate race.

Mr. Lieberman is running for a fourth Senate term in the general election as an independent after losing his party’s nomination to Ned Lamont in last week’s primary. The two will face Alan Schlesinger, the former Republican mayor of Derby, in the general election.

Mr. Lieberman is being supported by several Republican Senate candidates — including Rep. Mark Kennedy, who is seeking an open Democratic seat in Minnesota and Safeco insurance executive Mike McGavick, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell in Washington state. He also received an endorsement from New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a Republican who is weighing a possible independent campaign for the presidency.

But in a rare departure from party tradition, the NRSC, whose chairwoman is North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole, said Friday that it wasn’t going to waste its limited resources on Mr. Schlesinger’s nearly hopeless campaign.

“Let me get back to you on that,” NRSC spokesman Dan Ronayne said, when asked whether the party was going to vigorously support its own candidate.

Minutes later, Mr. Ronayne responded by e-mail with this statement: “Connecticut doesn’t appear to be a competitive campaign for our nominee right now, so we are focusing our attention elsewhere on races where we may have a greater impact.”

Connecticut Republican officials, including Gov. M. Jodi Rell, have urged Mr. Schlesinger to drop out of the race and let the party choose a replacement, but he has declined.

Republican candidates have praised Mr. Lieberman’s willingness to reach out across the aisle and his steadfast support for the Iraq war in the face of fierce opposition from liberal anti-war activists and left-wing bloggers, who fueled and helped finance Mr. Lamont’s primary campaign.

“There are many things the senator and I disagree on,” Mr. Kennedy said, “but I have tremendous respect for Senator Lieberman’s courage and his character. In the face of blistering negative attacks, he didn’t waffle, he didn’t back down from what he knew was right.”

Mr. McGavick, who has campaigned on returning civility to Washington politics, said he would support Mr. Lieberman’s re-election both politically and financially because his “message of independence and bipartisanship is right for our country.”

Mr. Bloomberg said last week that he was supporting Mr. Lieberman because the country needs “nonpartisan elected officials who think doing the right thing for the public is more important than supporting some party.”

The Lieberman campaign, now reorganizing itself for the general election, seemed somewhat defensive about the praise it was getting from Republican admirers.

“He’s really not interested in being a political football for Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, just as he’s not going to be a political football for Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi,” Lieberman spokesman Dan Berstein said.

“Since he announced he was running as an independent, he’s received a lot of encouragement from across the political spectrum, Democrats, Republicans and independents. I imagine he will receive more [endorsements] as we go along,” Mr. Berstein said.

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