Skip to comments.Shays Endorsing Lieberman
Posted on 03/01/2006 8:21:05 AM PST by West Coast Conservative
It's been the subject of whispered conversations among top Republican officials for the past month. Now, U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, R-4th District, has let slip the secret: GOP officials have discussed cross-endorsing Democratic Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman this fall.
In an interview today with the editorial board of The Advocate of Stamford, Shays said he intends to vote for Lieberman and is encouraging a Republican endorsement of the three-term senator.
The remark was not immediately reported by The Advocate, but it set off a flurry of calls among Republicans who have been gauging support for the idea among GOP candidates, including Gov. M. Jodi Rell and U.S. Reps. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District, and Nancy L. Johnson, R-5th District.
One GOP operative who was aware of the discussions said premature public disclosure of the possible cross-endorsement probably would kill the idea. That seems to be case.
By Tuesday evening, spokesmen for top Republicans publicly distanced themselves from the possibility of backing Lieberman, who faces a Democratic primary over his support of President Bush and the war in Iraq.
And a spokeswoman for Lieberman, who previously had refused to rule out appearing on any but the Democratic line on the November ballot, said he would not accept a cross-endorsement.
"Would he accept the endorsement of the Republican Party? No, he is seeking the Democratic Party nomination," said Casey Aden-Wansbury, his communication director. She said no one representing Lieberman has discussed a cross-endorsement with Republicans.
Lieberman accepted a cross-endorsement in 1994, while seeking his second term. He ran with the endorsement of the Democratic Party and A Connecticut Party, the banner under which Lowell P. Weicker Jr. was elected governor in 1990.
Weicker is no fan of Lieberman, but the endorsement was offered to help Eunice Groark, who was A Connecticut Party nominee for governor in 1994. Analysts in both parties say running on the same ballot line with Lieberman this year could help Shays and Simmons, two Republicans who supported the invasion of Iraq and the continued U.S. presence in the country. Shays has hinted previously that he might support Lieberman, who remains one of the state's most popular politicians.
"Their position on the war can't be closer," said Michael Sohn, who is Shays' campaign manager. "They both voted to go into Iraq, and they both support staying until the job is done."
Shays and Simmons are facing tough re-election campaigns from their Democratic opponents, Diane Farrell and Joseph Courtney, respectively. Farrell, who also ran two years ago, has used the war as a cudgel against Shays, although she is supporting Lieberman.
While Simmons could benefit by running on the same ballot line with Lieberman, the congressman's campaign manager, Chris Healy, all but ruled out Simmons' signing off on such a gambit -- even though Republicans are unsure if they can convince a serious candidate to oppose Lieberman.
"Congressman Simmons is a proud Republican and, while he enjoys a solid working relationship with Sen. Joe Lieberman, we look forward to a Republican candidate to run in the fall and expect to support the Republican ticket from top to bottom," Healy said.
Shays initiated the round of discussions about Lieberman among Republicans more than a month ago, said Republicans who wished to remain anonymous because the talks were supposed to remain confidential. He phoned Rell and asked her to consider a GOP endorsement of Lieberman. One Republican described the governor as "nonplussed" by the idea, while another said Rell was non-committal.
Rell's chief of staff, M. Lisa Moody, dismissed the possibility, saying, "There have been no serious discussions, to my knowledge."
Lieberman faces opposition within his party from Ned Lamont, a Greenwich businessman opposed to the war who has created a campaign committee and is expected to formally announce his candidacy this month. He's viewed as a long shot to win the nomination, but a core group of disaffected Democrats is strongly supportive of his effort.
"We're not surprised that there are people within the Republican Party that would think about endorsing Joe. He clearly is George Bush's favorite Democrat," said Tom Swan, Lamont's campaign manager.
Swan also said Lieberman's disavowal of any interest in a GOP endorsement was expected. "I don't know how someone who has tried to make his entire career be based upon principles could turn around and switch parties overnight," Swan said.
It was unclear Tuesday why Shays told The Advocate he hoped Republicans would consider endorsing Lieberman. His campaign manager, Michael Sohn, said he believed Shays mentioned the idea when asked about Farrell's endorsement of Lieberman, despite their differences on the war.
"It is something Chris has been thinking about for a long time," Sohn said. "I think part of it did come from the flow of conversation. Chris is a person who says what he believes. When asked a question, he is not going to lie, not going to beat around the bush." Lieberman did not return the favor Tuesday.
"I thank Chris Shays for his support," Lieberman said, according to his staff. "But of course I am enthusiastically supporting my fellow Democrat Diane Farrell in this congressional race, as I did two years ago."
A centrist democrat is better than a liberal.
Hell, Joe Lieberman is more of a Republican than Chris Shays.
"A centrist democrat is better than a liberal."
A centrist democrat is better than a liberal Republican too.
I would take Lieberman over the Rino Chafee anyday
Amen to that - and remember, W.F. Buckley and National Review supported Lieberman's Senate run (albeit the alternative was Lowell "Gasbag" Wieker)
Not in my book. A socialist is not better than a communist. Both philosophies are evil.
Shays, the House equivalent of McLame.
Did Blockhead Shays poll his constituents before doing this? I read where he did poll them before voting on the impeachment of Billy Clintoooooooooon!
"A centrist democrat is better than a liberal."
So true. Now try this one.
A centrist Republican is better than a liberal.
(Every day it is shouted that people will not vote for centrist Republicans. McCain, Arnold, Guiliani, etc.)