Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Local Republicans May Begin to Back Lieberman

Political Wire
Local Republicans May Begin to Back Lieberman

Local Republican committees are starting to follow the lead of their rank and file in Connecticut by abandoning the quixotic Senate candidacy of Republican Alan Schlesinger. On August 11th, the Killingworth Republican Town Committee voted to withdraw its endorsement of Schlesinger.

A dozen more may follow, including at least one town that raises more money than any other for Republican causes around the state, Greenwich. The question for most towns will be whether to include the “L-word” in their resolutions. Some want to endorse Lieberman, who’s drawn significant Republican support since his narrow 1988 upset of disagreeable Republican Lowell P. Weicker, Jr, now an unaffiliated voter.

There are few gatherings more earnest than meetings of the 169 Republican town committees in Connecticut. The decision to bolt formally from a Republican candidate for the United States Senate to a three-term incumbent Democrat turned independent will cause much debate among party activists, who have stood by the parade of no-hopers the party has nominate for the Senate in the past decade.

Greenwich, hometown of Democratic primary victor Ned Lamont, sets the pace for other local Republican organizations in affluent Fairfield County. As in many other realms, there is an element of Greenwich-envy among party workers in other towns. An outright endorsement of Lieberman would be another blow to Schlesinger, currently garnering around 4% in most polls. Schlesinger has made a couple of pilgrimages to the Greenwich town committee, where he has not been enthusiastically received.

Formal endorsements of Lieberman by local Republicans could bolster the army of volunteers that he is trying to build after losing the August 8th Democratic primary to Lamont. Neddites are particularly roiled by the possibility that the state’s 450,000 registered Republicans could provide the margin of victory for Lieberman. Additional signs of the Republican stampede to Lieberman will cause additional agitation between the two camps as the race grows more bitter and personal.

-- Guest contributor Kevin Rennie is a columnist for the Hartford Courant.