- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 9, 2006

1:10 p.m.

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Sen. Joe Lieberman filed petitions today — hours after his loss in the Democratic primary — to get on the November ballot as an independent, while national Democrats came out in support of the race’s winner.

Two top Senate Democrats said they “fully support” the Democratic nominee, Ned Lamont.

“The perception was that [Mr. Lieberman] was too close to George Bush, and this was, in many respects, a referendum on the president more than anything else,” said Sens. Harry Reid of Nevada and Charles E. Schumer of New York, the party’s leader and the head of its campaign committee.

Connecticut Democrats gathered for a late-morning rally in Hartford to complete the unity portrait.

Mr. Lieberman had other ideas.

His campaign delivered two boxes of petitions to the secretary of state’s office in Hartford, and aides said the three-term Connecticut senator had more than enough petitions to qualify for a spot on the November ballot.

If approved, that would set up a three-way race for the fall among Mr. Lamont, Mr. Lieberman and Republican Alan Schlesinger, who has trailed far behind both Democrats in the polls.

Final primary returns showed Mr. Lamont defeating Mr. Lieberman 52 percent to 48 percent.

“This race is going to be all about who can get more done and who can be a better representative for Connecticut,” Mr. Lieberman said.

Mr. Reid and Mr. Schumer stopped short of calling for Mr. Lieberman to reconsider, as did two potential presidential candidates for 2008, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Asked today if there were anyone who could get him to change his mind, Mr. Lieberman replied on NBC’s “Today” show: “Respectfully, no. I’m committed to this campaign.”

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman seized on the results in the Connecticut primary to assail the Democrats on national security and called Mr. Lieberman’s defeat a “shame.”

“Joe Lieberman believed in a strong national defense, and for that, he was purged from his party. It is a sobering moment,” Mr. Mehlman said.

Although having both Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Lamont on the ballot could split the Democratic vote, Mr. Schlesinger is not considered a major threat. His campaign stumbled in July after revelations that he used a fake name to gamble at a Connecticut casino and had been sued over gambling debts at two New Jersey casinos. Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell urged him to drop out of the Senate race, but Mr. Schlesinger called the gambling a “nonissue.”

Mr. Lieberman’s loss made him just the fourth incumbent senator to lose a primary since 1980. Just six years ago, he was the Democrats’ choice for vice president.

Two other congressional incumbents also lost their re-election bids yesterday.

In Georgia, Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney, the congresswoman known for her conspiracy theories about the September 11, 2001, attacks and a scuffle this year with a U.S. Capitol police officer, lost a runoff for the Democratic nomination.

In Michigan, moderate Republican Rep. Joe Schwarz lost to Tim Walberg, a former state lawmaker. The race drew more than $1 million from outside groups. Mr. Schwarz had received support from President Bush and Arizona Sen. John McCain.

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