- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Sen. Joe Lieberman received a warm welcome yesterday as he returned to the Senate for the first time since losing his Democratic primary in Connecticut to anti-war candidate Ned Lamont.

For much of the day, the three-term incumbent was trailed by reporters eager to see how he would be treated by his Democratic colleagues, the vast majority of whom have pledged support for their party’s new nominee, Mr. Lamont. Between votes yesterday, Mr. Lieberman told reporters outside the chamber that his fellow Democrats have been cordial and many had spoken kind words to him on the Senate floor.

“My colleagues were as warm and collegial as you’d expect,” he said. Some Democrats told him they were “sorry it didn’t come out better.”

Perhaps coincidentally, Mr. Lamont was also in town meeting with Senate leaders and speaking to a gathering of reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

One of those meeting with Mr. Lamont was Sen. Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat who is among his party’s top leaders. Yesterday, he called Mr. Lieberman a “friend.”

But that doesn’t change political reality, said Mr. Schumer, the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee that is charged with helping defeat Mr. Lieberman in the general election.

“Politically, he lost the primary,” Mr. Schumer said.

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, said lawmakers know that in politics, sometimes these things happen. He said nothing changes friendships with a colleague like Mr. Lieberman after spending 18 years working together. At the same time, he said, “people respect the decision by voters.”

A smiling Mr. Lieberman was met with a bevy of clicking cameras as he exited the elevators on his way to the Senate.

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