Friday, August 18, 2006

Democratic Senators on Lamont: The Last Tally

I made a vow when I began hounding Democratic Senators for a firm position on the Lamont-Lieberman race in Connecticut that I would do the legwork for one week to see what level of support there is among these folks for the duly-chosen Democrat Senatorial nominee in the Nutmeg State.

As even the 16 people currently exiled filming the latest version of "Survivor" undoubtedly know, Ned Lamont defeated incumbent Joe Lieberman 52 percent to 48 percent on August 8 to take the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat Lieberman has held for three terms.

So the next move among the other 43 Democrats in the Senate should be a slam dunk, right? Regardless of what deference they showed their longtime colleague, Joe, before the votes were counted, many of us assumed that, if Ned Lamont was chosen by Connecticut Democrats as their standard bearer this year, any self-respecting fellow Democrat would naturally support the party's nominee.

How wrong some of us were and I have the final tally from my week of ongoing contact with the offices of every Democratic Senator.

Let's wrap up the supporters -- no matter how tepid those endorsements may seem right now -- with West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, who finally committed to Lamont yesterday.

"Senator Byrd is supporting the Democratic nominee in Connecticut," was the word we got from Tom Gavin, Byrd's press secretary. "But what the Senator is most focused on right now is his own election."

That makes 27 of 43 Senate Democrats -- not counting Lieberman, of course -- who say they support Lamont in the general election on November 7. And here they are:

Now to the others.

My wife talked me into painting the bathroom tomorrow and I decided to do that rather than spend time calling and writing the undecided Senators again and again. The way I figure it, I'll see more progress watching our new paint dry than I will trying to get an answer out of the remaining six, who have steadfastly offered no comment.

At least Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) took a stand by not taking a stand yesterday.

"He's not taking a position -- he's supporting neither candidate," Bingaman's Communications Director, Jude McCartin told me. "He's believes that this is a race for the people of Connecticut to decide and he's leaving it there. It's in their hands."

As for the undecided six -- Baucus (MT), Conrad (ND), Dorgan (ND), Mikulski (MD), Bill Nelson (FL) and Sarbanes (MD) -- I've decided that three and four attempts at getting a simple answer to what should be an easy question was enough and I've lumped them in with the group that seems to have forgotten their party affiliation.

After all, I wasn't asking them to fix the Middle East crisis or solve global warming -- I was simply asking Democrats if they would support the Democratic nominee for Senate in Connecticut.

Here's the final 10 who found that too vexing to answer:

And finally, here's our Rogue's gallery of the total sell-outs who are on the record as supporting Joe Lieberman -- for whom the Republicans are now giving their support -- over the nominee of their own party:

So our summary is as follows: 27 Senate Democrats for Ned Lamont, six who may have trouble getting a seat on the Senate Subcommittee on Sewage Management in the next Congress and 10 who have a hard time doing the right thing when it's staring them right in the face -- and even after I went through the trouble of writing their press release for them.

So there's 16 of them who are going to have a hard time looking Senator Lamont in the face when he shows up in the halls of Congress in January.

But, if you want to take one more crack at changing some minds, the toll-free number for the Capitol is 888-355-3588. The operators are very nice and connect you very quickly -- take it from me.

You can reach Bob Geiger at