Lamont increases lead over Lieberman
By Mark Preston
Sen. Joe Lieberman has been heavily criticized by liberals for his support for the Iraq war.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Embattled Sen. Joe Lieberman is trailing businessman Ned Lamont by double digits in the race for the Connecticut Democratic Senate nomination, a new poll released this morning shows.
The Quinnipiac University poll gives Lamont a 54 percent to 41 percent lead among likely Democratic primary voters and is the latest indication that the three-term incumbent is in serious danger of losing the Democratic primary next Tuesday. A poll released by the university on July 20 indicated that Lamont held a 51 percent to 47 percent advantage over Lieberman.
"Sen. Lieberman's campaign bus seems to be stuck in reverse," Quinnipiac University Polling Director Douglas Schwartz said in statement accompanying the poll's release. "Despite visits from former President Bill Clinton and other big name Democrats, Lieberman has not been able to stem the tide to Lamont."
But Schwartz added that with five days remaining, Lieberman still has time to turn things around.
What was once considered an easy re-election for Lieberman has turned into his toughest campaign since he defeated incumbent Sen. Lowell Weicker (R) in 1988. This year, Lamont has built his challenge against Lieberman on the Senator's support for the Iraq war. Lamont has been aided in his bid to defeat Lieberman by the Democratic "net roots," an increasingly influential liberal wing of the Democratic Party that interacts over the Internet.
While both camps took note of today's poll, spokeswomen for each candidate said they are focused on Tuesday.
"The only vote that counts, is the one on August 8," Liz Dupont-Diehl, Lamont's spokeswoman, said in an interview with the Grind. "We do hope this energizes our base and shows them this is possible."
Marion Steinfels, Lieberman's spokeswoman, said despite this latest poll, Tuesday's outcome is still up in the air.
"This race is very fluid and when it comes down to it, no one can predict what is going to happen next Tuesday," Steinfels told the Grind. "That's why we are working night and day and fighting our hearts out to make sure that Joe Lieberman wins on Primary Day."
Even if he doesn't win the primary, Lieberman has vowed to soldier on into the November general election -- running an independent campaign for re-election. But should Lieberman lose, it is unclear how much support he would receive from Democratic Party leaders or even his colleagues. Already, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York) has said she would support the winner of the August 8 primary. For now, Sen. Clinton has publicly endorsed Lieberman in the primary and her husband, former President Bill Clinton recently campaigned on his behalf. Others such as Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) and former Vice President Al Gore -- who chose Lieberman as his running mate in the 2000 presidential contest -- have refused to back Lieberman in the primary.
As of now, it looks like Lieberman would win re-election in a three way general election contest if he launched an independent bid. Former Derby Mayor Alan Schlesinger is running for the GOP Senate nomination, although there is a move by some party leaders to recruit a stronger Republican challenger into the race.
The mud slinging ends in Tennessee
A brutal primary battle for the Republican Senate nomination comes to an end today in Tennessee, as voters head to the polls to choose their candidates for November. Two former congressmen and a former Chattanooga mayor are competing for the GOP Senate nomination to take on the likely Democratic nominee, Rep. Harold Ford, Jr.
The race to replace Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee), who is retiring and considering a run for president, has taken on national implications as Democrats would need to win this seat and five others to wrest control of the Senate from Republican hands.
"To take control of the Senate (Democrats) have to run the table which includes picking up this Republican leaning open state," said Amy Walter, senior editor of the non-partisan Cook Political Report. "If we think about the ability of the Democrats to take control of the Senate they can't do that just by beating a couple of incumbents."
For Republicans, there are concerns that this bruising Republican primary could leave the winner weakened heading into the general election. Each of the candidates aired negative ads and former Reps. Ed Bryant and Van Hilleary have questioned former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker's conservative credentials. Corker is the favorite to win the nomination, but as is in any campaign turnout is the key and Van Hilleary or Bryant could emerge as the winner at the end of the day.
So far, more than $5 million has been spent by the three Republicans and Ford on television advertisements, with Corker accounting for them than $3.2 million. Bryant has spent about $700,000, Van Hilleary about $600,000 and Ford a little more than $800,000.
Evan Tracey of TNSMI/Campaign Media Analysis Group, CNN's consultant on television advertising spending, suggested that Corker's advertising dollars have been well spent.
"Corker's spending advantage is paying off in the polls," Tracey said. "If he wins, however, he'll have some repair work to do because Van Hilleary and Ed Bryant have spent the last 30 days attacking Coker's character and record on core conservative issues like immigration and abortion. Ford has had a free run thus far and has spent wisely of issue in the news like energy prices and port security."
Ford's decision to run for Senate has created very crowded Democratic and Republican contests to fill this Memphis based House seat.
All this week there has been a high stakes, behind the scenes battle between Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) as they hunt for a few crucial votes on the last big vote of the summer, CNN's Dana Bash reports.
The question is whether the GOP gamble to link minimum wage with the estate tax will pay off.
Last time the estate tax cut came before the Senate, Republicans were just three votes shy of the 60 they needed to pass the bill. In order to get those votes this time, Bash tells us that Republicans have added some sweeteners beyond just a minimum wage hike. They are putting specific provisions into the bill that are designed to make it hard for some Democrats to vote against it.
To lure Sen. Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia), the GOP has added a provision to help clean up coal mines and pay for health care for miners. Byrd, who is running for re-election, could be in a tough spot.
Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas) said that he really is torn over what to do. Republicans put a rural bonds provision in the bill to target him.
For Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), Republicans added a tax break on lumber. A Democratic source tells Bash she is leaning towards voting against the measure, but she too is up for re-election.
It is going to go down to the wire. The vote was planned for Friday, but with the smell of jet fumes lingering in the Senate hallways, a vote could happen later today. The betting now is that it won't pass, but it is still too close to call to make a definitive prediction.
The Rumsfeld grilling
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is testifying this morning on Capitol Hill about the war in Iraq, after initially refusing to appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Tune in to CNN throughout the day to for updates to this developing story.
DAYAHEAD/Events making news today
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