- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman’s defeat by anti-war Democrats pushed his party further to the left on national-security issues that could hurt its prospects in the 2006 and 2008 elections, analysts said yesterday.

Mr. Lieberman’s repudiation at the hands of challenger Ned Lamont in Tuesday’s primary was a dramatic demonstration of the growing political strength of the party’s left wing, which demands the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq.

“What we saw in Connecticut was evidence of the division within the Democratic Party, and Democrats may have to choose sides in that Lieberman-Lamont battle that could well promote an internal argument in the party in 2006, 2008 and beyond,” said elections analyst Stuart Rothenberg.

Strategists at the Democratic Leadership Council — or DLC, a group which crafted a strong national-security plank for their party in 1992 that helped elect Bill Clinton president — expressed concern yesterday that the rise of the anti-war left threatened to divide and undermine the party just as it was entering the critical midterm- and presidential-campaign cycles.

“Had it not been for the involvement of the Democratic left, the party would be fairly united going into the midterm elections. The Lamont campaign can be potentially devastating to the party,” DLC analyst Marshall Wittmann told the Los Angeles Times.

Republicans seized on Democrats’ infighting yesterday, questioning whether the divided party was capable of fighting the war on terrorism and protecting the country — issues on which Republicans lead Democrats in most polls.

Mr. Lamont’s victory “reflects an unfortunate embrace of isolationism, defeatism and a ‘blame America first’ attitude by national Democratic leaders at a time when retreating from the world is particularly dangerous,” Ken Mehlman, the Republican National Committee chairman, said in an address to the City Club of Cleveland.

“What happened in Connecticut’s primary clearly demonstrates that the angry left fringe of the Democrat Party is in charge, and party leaders have already lined up to support their cause,” said Brian Walton, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Tuesday’s primary upset will also affect the Democratic presidential primary lineup in 2008 and could complicate New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s expected candidacy for the nomination, Democrats said yesterday.

“These results do guarantee that there will be a strong anti-war candidate or candidates in ‘08,” said DLC strategist William A. Galston, who was Mr. Clinton’s White House domestic-policy adviser.

Like Mr. Lieberman, Mrs. Clinton voted for the resolution supporting the invasion of Iraq and was opposed to setting troop-withdrawal deadlines, but Mr. Galston among other Democrats said this could cause problems for her with the party’s anti-war bloc.

“No question that the lack of a consensus on Iraq has made life more complicated for her,” he said. “But I think she has succeeded in making Iraq a more manageable political issue than Senator Lieberman did.”

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