Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Lieberman, McKinney and Schwartz fight for political survival
From The Morning Grind

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- For Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut) it is Iraq. Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Georgia) is battling personal controversy and Rep. Joe Schwarz (R-Michigan) is accused of being out of step with his own party.

All three of these lawmakers are fighting for their political lives today, as they each seek to beat back challenges from within their own parties.

It is primary day in Colorado, Connecticut, Michigan and Missouri as voters choose candidates to send into November's general election. In Georgia, McKinney is in a run-off election with Hank Johnson. There is no common thread that ties the Lieberman, McKinney and Schwarz races together, but the outcomes in Connecticut and Michigan could serve as individual barometers for the November elections and beyond.

The highest profile contest of the day is in Connecticut where Lieberman is seeking a fourth term. Just six years ago, the Democratic senator was his party's vice presidential nominee, but his support for the Iraq war has energized anti-war Democrats who are backing businessman Ned Lamont in his bid to topple the incumbent. Several of Lieberman's colleagues including Vice President Al Gore refused to endorse him in the primary, although others such as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York), former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) are backing him. Sen. Clinton has already said she will endorse the winner of the primary and it remains to be seen how many of Lieberman's colleagues will continue to support him if he decides -- as he has vowed -- to run an independent bid for re-election.

Lieberman trailed Lamont by double digits in a Quinnipiac University poll last week but he has closed the gap, according to the university's latest survey. Still, if Lieberman loses, early polling shows he would win the general election if he chose to run an independent campaign.

But a Lieberman loss could provide a glimpse of how Iraq might be an issue in the November elections.

In Georgia, McKinney is seeking to save her seat after failing to win 50 percent of the vote last month. She was involved in a much publicized altercation earlier this year when she allegedly struck a U.S. Capitol Police officer, who attempted to stop her from bypassing a medal detector in a House office building. While McKinney apologized for the incident, a grand jury declined to indict her. Still, the incident has helped fuel Johnson's bid to oust his fellow Democrat. The outcome of the McKinney race has no real national implications because it is largely about the incumbent's own conduct.

One of the most overlooked primary battles of the year is freshman Rep. Joe Schwarz's (R-Michigan) struggle to overcome a challenge from his right for a second term. Republican challenger Tim Walberg has been greatly aided in his bid to topple Schwarz by the Club for Growth, an organization that backs candidates who support limited government and less taxes. A win by Walberg would send a chilling message to centrist Republicans that they are vulnerable to challenges from the conservative faction of their own party. It would also set up the Club's next challenge of trying to defeat Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-Rhode Island) in the September 12th GOP primary.

In Colorado, there is a crowded Republican primary in the race to replace retiring Rep. Joe Hefley (R), while Democrats will field Jay Fawcett as their nominee. Meanwhile, Ed Perlmutter and Peggy Lamm battle for the Democratic nomination in the race to replace retiring Rep. Bob Beauprez (R). Rick O'Donnell will be the GOP nominee in that race. Beauprez will officially receive his party's gubernatorial nomination, while Bill Ritter will get the Democratic Party's nod for governor.

In addition to the Lieberman primary, Connecticut Democrats will choose John DeStefano or Dan Malloy to challenge Gov. Jodi Rell (R) in November. And two Republicans are running for the right to challenge Rep. John Larson (D) in the general election.

Michigan Republicans will choose either Michael Bouchard or Keith Butler as their nominee to challenge Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), while the GOP will officially pick Dick DeVos to oppose Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) in November. There are also several House primaries in Michigan and Missouri. Also, Sen. Jim Talent (R-Missouri) will officially receive his party's nomination today as will Democrat Claire McCaskill (D), who is challenging him for his Senate seat.
Posted By Mark Preston, CNN Political Unit: 8/08/2006 12:06:00 PM ET | Permalink
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