Well, as everyone has probably heard by now, Joe Lieberman has said that he’s still in the Democratic primary, but if he loses, he’ll run as an independent “petitioning Democrat”. What that means is he’ll run as an independent, but if he wins he’ll join the Democratic caucus.
Whatever. What I’m interested in is not Joe’s jump, which isn’t a huge surprise, but how Schumer in particular, and other Democratic leaders like Reid, Rahm, Dean and Pelosi are going to react to this.
The primary system was opened up to the public, as Stirling notes, after a great long fight. If the Democratic establishment chooses to support Lieberman over Lamont then they would be giving a big finger to the primary system – saying they’ll work with it when they feel like it, but if it threatens their cozy insiders club, they’ll work against it.
Dean won’t support Lieberman as an independent. Having his brother raise money for Lamont was a clear message. Rahm, being on the House side, can shrug out of this, as can Pelosi. Neither should – both should take this opportunity to show that they believe in democracy and in the Democratic party – both by endorsing Lamont, and by fundraising for him. Doing so on Rahm’s part would do a lot to help bury some of the animosity he has earned over the last few months, and on Pelosi’s part would continue her movement towards to the party’s base and the netroots.
Then there are Reid and Schumer. I’m going to say that Reid isn’t going to sign on to this – I could be wrong, but my read on Reid is that he ain’t that happy with Lieberman these days and my guess is that this is the one step beyond where personal loyalty carries Reid – the step where that loyalty has been repaid with betrayal.
Finally we come to Schumer. This is Schumer’s nightmare scenario. He doesn’t believe that anyone even an inch to the left of center is a good candidate pretty much anywhere, and he thinks that the base and the netroots should listen to the experts like himself. I wonder if he’s going to get stubborn on this and decide that this is where he draws the line and teaches the netroots a lesson – that if they want to play hardball, guys like him will play hardball back, and win.
If he does think that he’s letting himself in for a world of hurt. The DSCC will take a big fundraising hit (I’m hearing noises that a number of bigger donors are already considering closing their wallets in disgust with his interference in primaries) and his name, pesonally, will be mud.
And one day soon he may find himself facing a primary challenge. He’s in a safe Democratic seat – it doesn’t need to be held by someone like him – and he made a big mistake when he messed around with Spitzer. A challenger to Schumer may find a powerful local New York political machine all ready to go…
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