Three members of Congress were denied renomination in their primaries Tuesday. Democrat Cynthia McKinney lost 59 to 41 percent in the Georgia Fourth District: The prosperous black voters of the DeKalb County suburbs evidently have had enough of her shenanigans.
Republican Joe Schwarz lost in the Michigan Seventh to a more conservative candidate; McCain backer Schwarz had won with a plurality against five more conservative opponents in the 2004 primary. But, of course, the nation's eyes (or the eyes of the nation's political junkies) were not on these interesting races but on the result in Connecticut, where Democrat Joe Lieberman lost 52 to 48 percent to Iraq withdrawal advocate Ned Lamont. Some observations:
- It's not at all obvious that Lieberman will leave the Senate. He's running as an "independent Democrat," and all but one poll matching him against Lamont and the Republican nominee, a man named Alan Schlesinger who appears to be a very weak candidate, show him with big leads. Those leads may not stand up in subsequent weeks. Lamont is getting endorsed by just about all Democratic politicians, starting with Lieberman's 18-year Connecticut colleague Christopher Dodd, and that may cost him some support-although I think voters tend to discount such endorsements, on the grounds that it's just about obligatory for politicians of any party to endorse the party's primary winner. In any case, races with serious and well-known independent candidates can be volatile, since voters are not tied down by partisan allegiances. My guess is that most self-identified Republicans will vote for Lieberman (on Fox News last night former Bush White House staffer Mary Matalin came close to endorsing him) and that many self-identified Democrats will as well. Lamont carried most of the small towns in the state, and by wide margins in the kind of Litchfield County towns where most registered Democrats are New York-oriented writers and artists; but turnout there was very small, and these left-wing voters may be swamped by their more centrist neighbors-the storekeepers and handymen who serve them-in November. Overall, Lieberman has a long record that's usually in sync with most Connecticut voters and is widely admired for his strong character and good humor. If I had to bet, I'd put my money on Lieberman.