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Lieberman to run regardless of primary results

From Dana Bash
CNN

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Connecticut Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman says he thinks he'll win his ballot spot in the primary.

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Joe Lieberman
Connecticut
Democratic Party
Senate

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Connecticut, facing a tough challenge in the Democratic primary, is launching a separate petition effort to get on the November ballot as a precaution in case he does not win.

Lieberman campaign manager Sean Smith said Lieberman's priority is to win the Democratic nomination in the August 8 primary for the office he has held since 1989.

But if he loses the primary to Ned Lamont, a Greenwich businessman and former city councilman, Lieberman could still get on the ballot by petition. (Watch senator describe his backup plan to get on the ballot -- 1:40)

Connecticut law requires 7,500 registered voters' signatures by August 9 in order for an independent candidate to have a place on the November ballot -- and running as a petitioning Democrat is an option.

Lieberman denied his 'plan B' candidacy would mean breaking with the Democratic Party.

Lieberman told CNN he expects to win the August vote but added: "Nothing is guaranteed in politics or elections, and so I'm essentially taking out an insurance policy."

"I am very loyal to the Democratic Party, but I have a loyalty higher than that to my party. That is to my state and my country," he said.

Lamont's campaign blasted Lieberman's announcement, accusing the veteran senator of trying to "hedge his bets and game the system."

Lamont campaign chief Tom Swan said in a written statement: "Lieberman has done this because he recognizes the strength of our campaign and the depth of support we have built in less than four months."

Lieberman was on the phone Monday morning informing Senate colleagues, including Minority Leader Harry Reid and fellow Connecticut Democrat Chris Dodd.

A Lieberman adviser said internal polls show him with a slight lead against Lamont.

"This is a tight race," the adviser said. "Who knows how many Democrats are going to turn out on August 8. The entire state has elected him three times, and they should have the chance to do it again."

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