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No Ground Game For Joe

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So many people were focused on watching the New York Times tee up Ned Lamont last weekend on behalf of Joe Lieberman (as they indulged once again their favorite obsession, sniffing the panty drawer of The Clenis) that an article pointing out that Lieberman has no ground game was largely overlooked:

Since his defeat in the Aug. 8 Democratic primary, Mr. Lieberman has been seeking Democrats while appealing to Republicans with tough talk about terrorism that is similar to President Bush’s. He is mulling creating nonpartisan “citizen town committees” because he must build a new voter-turnout operation from scratch. And he is calibrating his language to try to appeal across party lines without seeming inconsistent or awkward — though, at times, he does.

No longer the Democratic nominee, he has lost a handful of union endorsements, and his allies in the A.F.L.-C.I.O. may stay neutral. His campaign must replace and train hundreds of field workers that the state party usually deploys to help turn out voters. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, usually on his side, is now providing fund-raising and strategy help to Mr. Lamont. And there is no party organization that can quickly gather its members for the large campaign rallies that can be a shot in the arm.

Independent candidacies are rare, because party affiliation provides so many advantages: Fund-raising aid, battle-tested organizers, policy and strategy assistance, volunteers and an apparatus that can attack the candidate’s opponent without the candidate appearing negative.

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Mr. Lieberman has managed to hire one prominent Democratic media consultant, Josh Isay, who demonstrated partisan flexibility by working for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg last year. (He already has a Republican pollster, who also works for Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.) Yet other Democrats have left his campaign, leaving Mr. Lieberman’s staff of loyalists to shoulder many new tasks — in particular, building its own get-out-the-vote operation without relying on state and town Democratic organizations that can move voters to the polls.

Sherry Brown, who took over as Mr. Lieberman’s campaign manager last month, said her team needed new ways to identify and mobilize voters beyond using the traditional lists of registered voters that the parties use to plan turnout strategy. The citizen committees are one idea; she also said the senator would rely more than usual on assistance from unions, environmentalists and other groups that have endorsed him, such as the Chamber of Commerce.

Vets for Freedom, a group with ties to top Republican strategists, is also planning to rally Republicans to vote for Mr. Lieberman, using commercials and other organizing tools.

With labor turning overwhelmingly toward Lamont and local Connecticut organizers working steadily within the campaign, Joe is getting killed on the ground. And this week the College Democrats of Connecticut are getting into the act on Ned’s behalf for GOTV efforts.

Joe’s raising tons of money but doesn’t seem to be spending much right now. I’m sure we can look forward to the next 54 days filled with paeans to Republican talking points, his glorious history of sanctimonious finger wagging and of course himself.   Sandwiched in between will no doubt be a passel of partisan smearmongering that rails against partisan smearmongering and veiled threats to caucus with his Republican buddies if the Dems aren’t nice to him.

Oh and did we mention overpay?  It’s hard to tell what Joe is hemorrhaging faster, money or sense. But you know all the people taking him for that long, last ride have got to be sporting the Big Happy. 

(graphic by NeoJoe

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. 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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