Joe Lieberman left with limited 2012 options

November 24, 2010

By MOLLY BALL, Politico

Joe Lieberman essentially has two options for 2012: Retire or become a Republican.

The Connecticut senator and Democratic exile hasn’t made up his mind whether to seek a fifth term, Lieberman and those close to him say. But if he does, the GOP ticket appears to offer his best shot at reelection.

“That’s his only hope,” said John Olsen, president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO and a former state Democratic chairman.

Even that, Olsen and others involved in Connecticut politics say, looks like a long shot. But no other avenue appears to be open to the 68-year-old Lieberman, who won a three-way contest in 2006 after losing the Democratic primary to a challenger from the left, Ned Lamont.

One reason is that the ballot line for the Connecticut for Lieberman party, the vehicle he used in 2006, is no longer available to him.

After the 2006 election, a group of anti-Lieberman activists took over the party with the hope of embarrassing the senator by running a candidate against him in 2012. But its candidate for Senate this year failed to garner the 1 percent of the vote needed to keep the party’s automatic ballot access next cycle.

To run as a third-party candidate again, “He would have to form a new party with some other name,” the party’s chairman and failed Senate nominee, John Mertens, said. “And it could not use the word ‘Connecticut’ or ‘Lieberman’ in the name,” under the state’s election regulations.

Mertens, who was surprised and dismayed by his poor showing on Nov. 2, said the fact that he got just six-tenths of 1 percent of the vote ought to tell you just how few fans Lieberman — who’s listed by the Senate as an “independent Democrat” — has left in his home state.

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