From The Morning Grind
To say the political world has been shaken up in the last 48 hours would be an understatement. Three incumbents go down in defeat to members of their own party. The biggest story, of course, is Sen. Joe Lieberman's (D-Connecticut) loss and his decision to seek an independent bid for re-election, much to his party leadership's chagrin. The most overlooked race was Rep. Joe Schwarz's (R-Michigan) loss to a challenger from his right. Should centrist Republicans be concerned? Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Georgia) loses for the second time in six years, but her defeat was the result of her own doing.
In Connecticut, the national reporters have decamped, but Nutmeg State voters should expect them back. On Tuesday night, no fewer than 19 satellite and microwave television trucks were parked outside of Lieberman's campaign event beaming his declaration to continue on with his re-election campaign to viewers across the country and around the world, CNN's Mike Roselli reports. "That's big time," the veteran of three presidential campaigns, said of the coverage.
Ned Lamont now has the backing of the Democratic establishment and we expect to hear more public endorsements of him today. Still, not everyone is abandoning Lieberman. It only took 11 words for Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) -- who is one of, if not the most conservative Democrat in the Senate -- to make his intentions known. "Joe Lieberman is my friend and I will support his decision," Nelson said in a statement released yesterday. Nelson joins a small list of colleagues including Sens. Tom Carper (D-Delaware), Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas) and Ken Salazar (D-Colorado) who are standing with Lieberman.
But Lieberman is not standing by his campaign team. It didn't take long for him to clean house. Less than 24 hours after he announced plans to launch an independent bid for re-election, the three term senator brought on a new campaign manager and communications director. Sherry Brown, the senator's state director, will now head the campaign. Dan Gerstein, who worked a decade for Lieberman, will be the new chief spokesman. Lieberman is also looking for a new media consultant and pollster.
"I don't blame my staff for my loss on Tuesday," Lieberman said. "I bear that responsibility. But now that we are entering a new and very different phase of the campaign, I wanted to bring in a new team."
Despite calls from the 'netroots' community for the Democratic leadership to strip Lieberman of his committee assignments, a Democratic leadership aide tells the Grind there is no plan to do that now. As for what happens next year if Lieberman wins, the aide said, "We are taking one step at a time."
Despite getting the cold shoulder from party leaders, Lieberman has vowed to remain a Democrat and said he will continue to caucus with Democratic senators. And the Grind believes that if Lieberman does win in November he will retain those seats, specifically his senior post on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. After all, it was Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), who stepped aside to give independent Sen. Jim Jeffords (Vermont) the helm of the Environment and Public Works committee when he abandoned the Republican Party in 2001. As you might remember, the Jeffords switch handed Democrats control of the Senate and made Reid the minority whip.