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Lieberman voted out by his own party

Connecticut Democrats show little tolerance to the senator, turning against him for his views on Iraq.

By Wire services
Published August 9, 2006

HARTFORD, Conn. - Driven by the party's antiwar activists, Connecticut Democrats on Tuesday voted out longtime Sen. Joe Lieberman, defeating him in a Democratic primary that became a referendum on Lieberman's support for the Iraq war.

Lieberman, seeking a fourth term in the U.S. Senate, was defeated by political novice Ned Lamont, who embraced an antiwar stance.

Lieberman conceded defeat shortly after 11 p.m., but said he will run as an independent in the fall.

In another key race , Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney, the controversial congresswoman who scuffled with a U.S. Capitol police officer earlier this year, lost a runoff for her district's Democratic nomination.

Elsewhere, voters in Colorado, Missouri and Michigan chose candidates for the fall elections.

The Connecticut Senate race dominated the political landscape in recent weeks. Democratic critics targeted Lieberman for his support for the Iraq war and for his ties to President Bush.

Lieberman's Democratic challenger, Lamont, counted on antiwar sentiment among liberal Democrats to drive his campaign.

Lamont is the millionaire owner of a cable television company, but his political career is limited to serving as a town selectman and member of the town tax board.

With 98 percent of the vote counted, Lamont had 52 percent of the vote, or 144,005 votes, to Lieberman's 48 percent, or 134,026 votes.

"Of course I am disappointed by the results, but I am not discouraged," Lieberman said.

"The old politics of partisan polarization won today," Lieberman said. "For the sake of our state, our country and my party, I cannot and will not let that result stand. Tomorrow morning our campaign will file the necessary petitions ... so that we can continue this campaign for a new politics of unity and purpose."

On the final day of the race, Lieberman accused his opponent's supporters of hacking his campaign Web site and e-mail system. Campaign manager Sean Smith said the site began having problems Monday night and crashed for good at 7 a.m., denying voters information about the candidate.

"It is a deliberate attempt to disenfranchise voters," Smith said.

Lamont, campaigning Tuesday afternoon in Bridgeport, said he knew nothing about the accusations. "It's just another scurrilous charge," he said.

A week ago, polls showed Lieberman trailing Lamont by 13 percentage points. The latest polls showed the race tightening, with Lamont holding a slight lead of 51 percent to 45 percent over Lieberman among likely Democratic voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday.

Democratic critics targeted Lieberman for his strong support for the Iraq war and for his ties to President Bush. They played video of the kiss Bush planted on Lieberman's cheek after the 2005 State of the Union address.

In the lead up to Tuesday's primary, 14,000 new Connecticut voters registered as Democrats, while another 14,000 state voters switched their registration from unaffiliated to Democrat to vote in the primary.

Among those who quickly said they would support Lamont, if he won the primary, was Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., who had been the target of criticism by many of the same bloggers who were supporting Lieberman's challenger.

Lieberman, running for re-election just six years after serving as the Democrats' vice presidential nominee, was widely expected to win a fourth term in November.

But his continued support for the war in Iraq and for Bush as commander-in-chief put the 64-year-old senator at odds with many Democrats in his home state. Lamont was propelled ahead of Lieberman by fierce antiwar sentiments among liberal Democrats and influential bloggers on the left.

"I'm completely for Lamont because of the war issue," said William Clement, 57, who voted in Hartford on Tuesday morning.

In Georgia, McKinney, Georgia's first black congresswoman, lost to lawyer Hank Johnson. Johnson won the nomination with 59 percent of the vote, surpassing McKinney by more than 11,000 votes. Johnson declared victory about 11:05 p.m.

McKinney has long been controversial. In her latest brouhaha in March, she struck a Capitol Police officer who did not recognize her and tried to stop her from entering a House office building.

A grand jury in Washington declined to indict her, but she was forced to apologize before the House. She drew less than 50 percent of the vote in last month's primary.

In other primaries around the nation Tuesday:

- In Michigan, Republican Rep. Joe Schwarz, a moderate who supports abortion rights, faces a vigorous challenge from conservative Tim Walberg, a former state lawmaker. The race has drawn more than $1 million from outside groups; Schwarz has received support from President Bush and Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Information from the Associated Press, Hartford Courant, Washington Post, Atlanta Journal-Constituion and McClatchy-Tribune News Service was used in this report.

[Last modified August 9, 2006, 01:19:47]


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