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It seems there are a whole lot of people peeved at Chuck Schumer these days. As chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, he broke with tradition to endorse candidates in the primary, alienating some prominent DNC fundraisers. I’m not sure I agree with that policy, I understand the motivation—Sen. Schumer, like all of us, wants to see a Democratic Senate next year and wants to make sure that nominations go to candidates most likely to win in the general.

But he’s gone a step too far this time. At a Wednesday press briefing, Schumer was asked if he would support Joe Lieberman’s (D-Conn) reelection bid if he ran as an independent, and Schumer pointedly refused rule out supporting the conservative senator in a general election against Ned Lamont and Alan Schlesinger.

I don’t care for Joe Lieberman; I disagree with most of his political views, and in my mind, he’s basically Bush Lite. I don’t see him as much of a Democrat.

But he is an incumbent, and if I were voting in the Connecticut primary, I’d cast my ballot for Lieberman, for the sole reason that I think he’s the candidate most likely to ensure that his Senate seat remains Democratic.

Polling has shown Lamont gaining on Lieberman in the primary, now down only 15%, 55-40, in numbers from last week. My money is on Lieberman (literally—we’ve got a little pool going at the All America office), but Lamont’s gains have been impressive considering Lieberman’s name recognition. Adam informs me that Connecticut law would require Lieberman to declare his intention to run as an independent before the primary if he wants to appear on the ballot, meaning that if Lieberman and his pollsters suspect he has a chance at losing to Lamont, then it would behoove him to run as an independent. Polling on the race is interesting:

If Lieberman runs as the Democratic nominee against Republican challenger Alan Schlesinger, Lieberman takes the race 68-14.
In a two-way race with Lamont winning the Dem primary, he defeats Schlesinger 37-20, but with 34 percent still undecided (meaning the seat is far from a lock, despite the Connecticut's overwhelming blueness).
But in a three way race between Lamont, Schlesinger, and Lieberman running as an independent, Lieberman wins with 56% against both candidates.

Lieberman’s camp says that he has yet to make a decision, but he is reportedly said to be seriously considering a run for reelection as an independent.

But back to Schumer. Now, I understand Schumer’s desire to support a colleague, especially such a prominent one. But the man is chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Anyone in such a prominent position of power has an obligation to endorse the party’s nominee, no matter who it is. While Schumer’s endorsement of Lieberman would hinge on a guarantee to caucus with the Dems and vote for Harry Reid for majority leader, such an endorsement is still unacceptable. If Lamont gets the support of the majority of Connecticut’s Democrats, then he deserves the support of the party as well.

It’s this kind of action that causes disenchantment with the national party. The cogs and machinery of the party cannot operate so separately from the people they claim to represent. I know Sen. Schumer wants to win; so do I. We’ve just made a different calculation about what victory means—the ends don’t always justify the means. Even if Lamont seems likely to lose, if he is the choice of the people, then the DNC and its leadership are bound to support him. That's what democracy is all about, even intraparty elections.

Democrats should call on Schumer to support the party’s nominee, whoever that may be.