Senator Robert Byrd, my state Senator, has announced his support for Ned Lamont (h/t Bob Geiger), the Democratic nominee for Senate from the great state of Connecticut. Why is this big news, you ask? Because he is the only member of the "Gang of Fourteen" to do so thus far.
Sen. Byrd has been my state Senator for my entire lifetime. He’s an old lion of the Senate, and quite good at maneuvering through the political ins and outs. He recently lost his wife of sixty years, so it’s been a tough summer for him, as he’s working on his re-election campaign. He did not need to step out and endorse Ned Lamont — it’s not a race that is on many radar screens here in West Virginia — but he has always been a big proponent of both Senate rules and decorum, and strong party allegiance to the Democratic Party.
Byrd’s endorsement now gives the other wavering neutrals and iffy Lieberman supporters steady cover for heading over to the Lamont camp. (As if they needed it, but several ninnies have been hiding out in the "neutral" position on this, and that’s simply unacceptable.)
This is very well timed. And I can’t help wondering what Sen. Byrd has worked out in the background on this with some of the other Gang of Fourteen members — and whether we’ll see a few more of them stepping out to support Lamont in the days ahead.
One thing that Sen. Byrd has prized through the years is Democratic loyalty. Joe Lieberman taking his campaign cues from Dick Cheney and Karl Rove had to have pissed Byrd off the last few days. If anything had to do with him taking a stand on this particular issue — other than my repeated calls to his office, of course (*g*) — it was de facto Republican nominee Joe Lieberman’s own piss poor behavior.
No one likes a turncoat, Joe.
As Bob says, Sen. Byrd’s press secretary characterized the endorsement as follows:
"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."
Sen. Byrd is facing a well-funded, hand-picked by Karl Rove, multi-millionaire GOP opponent in this fall’s election. It is a big deal that he publicly stood up for Ned Lamont, and I would appreciate it if everyone would consider sending him a thank you. You can do so here. (And, if you are so inclined, you can make a campaign contribution to Sen. Byrd here, although do browse through his issue positions — he’s not the typical progressive candidate, and I don’t want everyone to think that they are getting a "Blue America" kind of vote by donating to Sen. Byrd. I wouldn’t want you to donate if some of his positions do not sit comfortably with you. He’s certainly more conservative than I am on a number of social issues, but he has steadfastly stood up for WV’s residents through the years [and gave me a college scholarship], so his re-election has some real meaning for me and for folks in my state.)
Bob Geiger has put together the full list of Senators who have gone on the record on a Connecticut endorsement — if your Senator has endorsed Ned, please remember to thank them. If your Senator has not, or hasn’t gone on the record at all, please continue to call the office and voice your feelings on that issue as well. You can call toll free at 1-888-355-3588 to the Capitol switchboard.
This is a fundamental issue of principle: the Democratic voters of Connecticut have spoken. Either you are for democracy or for incumbant cronyism and back-stabbing party disloyalty. I am proud to say that both my West Virginia Senators stand firmly on the side of democracy. Where do yours stand?