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What It All Comes Down To


The new Rasmussen poll is out today, showing Lamont ahead of Lieberman 51-41 in the primary and tied 40-40 in a three way.

We got us a horse race.

There is a very interesting dynamic shaping up here in Connecticut.  It looks like it may come down to the African American vote, which is why Lieberman and Lamont are vying for it so heavily at the moment.  

As I wrote to Steve Gilliard and CTBlogger last night, Lieberman is running a machine politics race, hoping to pull out traditional Democratic voters like labor and African Americans in the largest districts — Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport.  He’s also brought in out-of-state help to do polling and canvassing in the ring suburbs.  But with the state’s rather small African American population concentrated in these three areas (37.3% of New Haven, 30% of Bridgeport and 38% of Hartford as of 2000) it is going to be a big factor in the race.

Joe’s already got labor endorsements, but it’s hard to know how motivated the rank-and-file are going to be to turn out for him in an August primary — he’s got obvious problems on that front and he suffered a big blow when most refused to endorse him past August 8.  He’s been going around to African American churches of late and with his political tin ear hoping to get them riled about Ned’s Halliburton stock (YouTube above), but Joe has several liabilities within that community which are going to be hard to overcome.

To begin with, Joe was chair of the committee that approved Michael Brown to be the head of FEMA in 42 minutes, and he also famously said that George Bush had the right to appoint anyone he wanted to.  He gave cover to the cracker coalition in the mid-nineties by saying affirmative action was wrong, and then tried to pander to the Congressional Black Caucus during the 2000 race by saying he’d always been for it. 

This morning I was in Hartford, where former Mayor Thurman Milner said Joe hadn’t been to their part of town in 18 years.  He rather scoffingly told me that Lieberman’s people claimed he’d been there, just "quietly."  He also laughed at Lieberman’s assertions that he saved the Groton sub base, and said he was taking credit for what many members of congress had worked hard to achieve.  There was no love there.

I spent the morning with Maxine Waters, an enthusiastic Lamont supporter who has bucked the party to turn out for him.  I’m sure there are no shortage of reasons Lieberman wants Bill Clinton to show up for him (word has it Hillary is quite worried about the threat to the stand for nothing centrists of the party from the netroots and has dispatched Big Dog to be the defender of the faith, despite Holy Joe’s sanctimonious scolding in the past.  

Gilliard had this to say about whose presence will mean more:

There is an all too sad assumption that the cable boxes black people get are CNN free. I can assure you they are not. People know Lieberman’s record, and dragging out Clinton won’t help him much.

Look, black people like Clinton, but there are limits to that. Bill Clinton hasn’t been any great advocate of black issues after he left the White House, like the recent Cracker Caucus opposing the Voting Rights Act.

What isn’t obvious is that Waters is a hero in much of black America. Her support of Lamont means a lot more than Clinton’s support of Lieberman. In fact, it was Waters who stood by Clinton when he was impeached, and Lieberman who wanted to sink a knife in his back. She is someone people listen to. Sharpton and Jackson get a lot of attention and respect, but people can listen to them or not as circumstances require.

Waters, otoh, gained a lot of credibility when she dragged John Deutsch down to Watts to deal with issue of the CIA selling crack in LA. Even though the evidence was scant, people admired her sticking her neck out on this issue.

So when she campaigns for Lamont, that tells people he can be trusted to not dick over black people. A power Bill Clinton does not have and cannot transfer.

I’m off again to go follow Waters (one of my political heros — Maxine knows how to fight) as she campaigns for Lamont.  I have to say that I was a bit surprised that not more was made of her willingness to come and stand up for Lamont.  She’s the head of the Out of Iraq caucus, she’s standing up for what she believes in (as she always has) and you know she took no small amount of shit from the party for doing so. 

The members of the CBC have called bullshit for years on things like impeachment and election theft and I’m constantly surprised that they do not get more credit for it.  You want fight?  They know how to fight.  And having watched Maxine put on her tennis shoes and fearlessly stroll out into the worst neighborhoods in New Haven, stick her hand out and talk with the poorest of the poor face to face — the people Joe Lieberman has ignored to his peril for 18 years — let me tell you, I am taking notes.  She is fearless. And I am extremely happy she’s on Ned’s side.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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