- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Lightning rod

Some voters asked Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, where they could sign a petition that would let him run for a fourth term in November as an independent, but a few others heckled him, calling him a traitor to the Democratic Party.

The mixed reaction at Willimantic’s annual Fourth of July Boom Box Parade, a traditional campaign stop for statewide candidates, came one day after Mr. Lieberman announced that he would collect signatures for a potential run as an unaffiliated candidate in case he loses the Aug. 8 Democratic primary.

Mr. Lieberman acknowledged the mixed response, saying his opponent, Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont, has gained a lot of support in eastern Connecticut, the Associated Press reports.

“This is all about democracy, which is what we’re here to celebrate,” Mr. Lieberman said.

Mr. Lieberman, the party’s 2000 vice presidential nominee and a 2004 presidential candidate, has fallen into disfavor with some Democrats for his support of the Iraq war and his perceived closeness to President Bush.

One parade float, organized by Lamont supporters, had a sign calling Lieberman a “RAT” — Republican Apologist and Turncoat.

Mind of a party

Joe Lieberman’s announcement Monday that he’ll run as an independent if he loses the Democratic nomination is a remarkable commentary on the mind of the Democratic Party these days. A three-term senator who was on his party’s national ticket in 2000 is in danger of being drummed out of respectable Democratic company,” the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.

“Mr. Lieberman may still win his Aug. 8 Connecticut primary against millionaire and antiwar Democrat Ned Lamont. But the senator feels unsure enough that he has taken the political risk of saying he will begin to collect the 7,500 signatures he’d need to file as an independent if he loses. A political neophyte, Mr. Lamont has nonetheless been adopted by antiwar Democrats, who see the contest as a way to purge national security hawks from party ranks and are pouring money into the contest.”

The newspaper added: “Connecticut’s Senate race may turn out to be the most important election of the year. If Democrats drive Mr. Lieberman from their ranks, they will be sending Americans a message that George Soros and MoveOn.org dominate their party. This is all the more reason to applaud Mr. Lieberman for declaring that he won’t easily be pushed from the Senate, whatever party banner he has to wave.”

No accident

President Bush now faces simultaneous saber-rattling from the last two members of the ‘Axis of Evil’ — North Korea and Iran — and analysts say that’s no accident,” the New York Post’s Deborah Orin writes.

“North Korea, which is seeking nuclear weapons, chose to test-fire a flight of missiles just as Iran was stonewalling on demands that it stop seeking nuclear weapons,” Miss Orin said.

“‘The North Koreans are trading nuclear technology with Iran and these things are tied,’ said former Pentagon official Dan Goure, now with the Lexington Institute.

“‘Essentially, they’re trying to time this so the United States has to negotiate two tough situations simultaneously.’

“But Goure said the provocative launches also buttress Bush’s argument that there can be no deal with the two repressive regimes.

“‘He can say, I’ve been telling you that these are the Axis of Evil and now you see why. There can be no compromise with these people.’”

‘War’ in Georgia

With less than two weeks before Georgia’s July 18 primary, a battle is raging between the rival Republican candidates for lieutenant governor, Ralph Reed and state Sen. Casey Cagle.

The TV “air war” went nuclear this week when Mr. Cagle broadcast an ad linking Mr. Reed to the Jack Abramoff scandal, an issue that Georgia pollster Matt Towery called the “hydrogen bomb” of the increasingly bitter campaign.

Both sides have powerful arsenals, Mr. Towery said.

“The one thing Cagle has going for him is that he has the support of virtually every Republican state senator,” he said.

Mr. Reed is best-known for his mastery of the “ground war” of grass-roots organizing, and can rely on the support of allies such as Sadie Fields, longtime leader of the Christian Coalition of Georgia.

When asked about the primary battle that seems to violate what late President Ronald Reagan called the 11th commandment — “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican” — Mrs. Fields was not troubled.

“I never agreed with that,” she said Tuesday at a Republican Party event in Marietta. “There’s only 10 Commandments.”

Nebraska challenge

Tom Osborne lost the Republican primary for governor of Nebraska, but his supporters aren’t giving up. They asked the state Supreme Court yesterday to overturn a state law so they can run a write-in campaign for him in November.

Mr. Osborne, a congressman and former University of Nebraska football coach, got 44 percent of the vote in the May primary, losing to Gov. Dave Heineman, who got 50 percent.

Nebraska law prohibits a candidate who lost in a primary from creating a write-in campaign, but the Supreme Court complaint that Mr. Osborne’s supporters filed supporters questions its legality, noting that the state Constitution says: “All elections shall be free and there shall be no hindrance or impediment to the right of a qualified voter to exercise the elective franchise.”

Mr. Osborne did not sanction or endorse the write-in effort, the backers said.

The group is led by Johnny Rodgers, who won the 1972 Heisman Trophy at Nebraska a year before Mr. Osborne was elevated to head coach, and Doak Ostergard, associate head trainer for the team, the Associated Press reports.

Candidate drops out

A Republican long shot vying to challenge Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, quit the race yesterday, leaving two front-runners to battle over the party’s nomination.

William Brenner, a tax attorney, said collecting the 15,000 signatures needed to make the Sept. 12 primary ballot was too expensive and daunting, given his business responsibilities.

“However, we have two good Republican candidates,” Mr. Brenner said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Polls have shown a tight race developing between former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer and Reagan-era Pentagon official Kathleen Troia “KT” McFarland. Mrs. Clinton is far ahead of either potential competitor in those polls.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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