In a telephone interview Thursday with The Politico website, Senator Joe Lieberman said that he has “no desire to change parties.” The possibility had been swirling around the senator, a Democrat-turned-Independent after being defeated in the Democratic primaries who went on to win his Senate race in 2006. It had been suggested, after being kicked out by his own party that he would start to caucus with Republicans.
This is not the case, according to Lieberman. But his decision isn’t carved in stone. Lieberman, one of President Bush’s strongest supporters of the war in Iraq, says he has “no desire to change parties. If that ever happens,” he continued, “it is because I feel the majority of Democrats have gone in a direction that I don’t feel comfortable with.”
One of the triggers, Lieberman admitted, was the possibility that Democrats may attempt to shut down funding for the war. “We will see how that plays out in the coming months,” he said, but that a showdown over funds could push him to the Republican side of the aisle in the Senate chamber.
Although a switch to the GOP seems remote, it is something Republicans have sought since the Democratic primaries, and an eventuality that Lieberman himself has refused to rule out the possibility. As far back as November, less than two weeks after the 2006 elections, Lieberman was asked about it on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”
“I’m not ruling it out but I hope I don’t get to that point,” he said. “And I must say – and with all respect to the Republicans who supported me in Connecticut – nobody ever said, ‘We’re doing this because we want you to switch over. We want you to do what you thyink is right and good for our state and country,’ and I appreciate that.”
Time magazine also has a similar story coming out. In it, Lieberman is again quoted as saying that he feels a party change is remote, but it is definitely something Democrats fear. When Lieberman stopped attending the weekly Democratic lunch because he felt uncomfortable discussing Iraq three, Senator Harry Ried offered to hold those discussions at a different time, and Democratic Senator Dick Durbin says his side “still counts on him (Lieberman),” although the relationship is “a little painful and awkward.”
Understandably so, considering the power Lieberman holds, and the desire each major party has to have the Independent from Connecticut on their side.
In the 2006 election, Democrats took home a wide majority in the House of Representatives, but currently hold a slim 51-49 edge, when Lieberman caucuses with the Democrats. Should he break from his old party and move to the GOP, the Senate would be a virtual deadlock, and any ties would be decided by a vote from the normally non-voting Republican Vice President Dick Cheney.