Lamont, left, beat Lieberman by four percentage points.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Six years after receiving the Democratic vice presidential nomination, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut) failed Tuesday to win his party's nod for a fourth term to the Senate. He immediately turned to Plan B, announcing his intentions to launch an independent bid for re-election.
But Lieberman will have to do it without the backing of the Democratic establishment. Senate Democratic leaders pledged their support this morning to businessman Ned Lamont, who defeated Lieberman in the Democratic primary. Later this morning, Lamont will join Connecticut Democrats at a unity news conference in Hartford.
"The Democratic voters of Connecticut have spoken and chosen Ned Lamont as their nominee," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Chuck Schumer (New York) said in a joint statement. "Both we and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) fully support Mr. Lamont's candidacy. Congratulations to Ned on his victory and on a race well run."
The race was framed by Lieberman's support for the Iraq war, which Lamont vigorously opposed. Lamont's message was spread nationally by anti-war bloggers who called for Lieberman's defeat. That message boomeranged back into Connecticut as support for the war continues to slip, according to a new CNN poll
released this morning.
In their statement, Reid and Schumer said that even though Lieberman "has been an effective Democratic Senator for Connecticut and for America ... the perception was that he was too close to George Bush and this election was, in many respects, a referendum on the President more than anything else. The results bode well for Democratic victories in November and our efforts to take the country in a new direction."
In addition to losing the support of the Democratic leaders in Washington and Connecticut, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California), who recently campaigned on Lieberman's behalf, said she would support Lamont, as did Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Indiana). Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), who did not make an endorsement in the primary, will, if asked, campaign for Lamont and help him financially, a Kerry spokesman tells the Grind.
In an interview this morning on CNN, Lieberman said he would reject any calls from his fellow Democrats to abandon an independent campaign for re-election. (Full transcript
"I will respectfully say, 'No, no, no,'" Lieberman said on CNN's American Morning. "I am in this race to the end. For me, it is a cause, and it is a cause not to let this Democratic Party that I joined with the inspiration of President Kennedy in 1960 to be taken over by people who are so far from the mainstream of American life that I fear we will not elect Democrats in the numbers that we should in the future."
A Democrat with close ties to Lieberman told the Grind this morning, "I take the Senator at his word, that he is concerned about the future of his party."
Lieberman was one of three incumbents to lose on Tuesday. Georgia Democratic Rep. Cynthia McKinney lost a run-off election to former DeKalb County Commissioner Hank Johnson, while Michigan Republican Rep. Joe Schwarz was defeated in a primary by former state Rep. Tim Walberg.