The party Sen. Joe Lieberman created to mount his independent re-election campaign has been seized by one of his critics, and the secretary of state's office said Wednesday that it won't challenge the takeover.

After the senator's Nov. 7 victory under the Connecticut for Lieberman Party banner, John Orman switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Connecticut for Lieberman and voted himself chairman.

Orman, a political science professor who ran briefly against Lieberman last year, said only critics, bloggers and anyone named Lieberman can join the party, which he said would be a watchdog of the senator's actions.

Ted Bromley, a lawyer for the secretary of the state's office, said it won't take a stance on the legitimacy of Orman's leadership. He said the issue could be settled by a judge, but only if it's challenged in court.

Lieberman campaign manager Sherry Brown did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment Wednesday.

Lieberman was defeated in the Democratic primary by Ned Lamont, a multimillionaire in his first run for public office who harshly criticized the incumbent's support for the Iraq war. But state election laws allowed Lieberman to run in the general election as an independent and ultimately win a fourth term.

Orman had bitterly protested Lieberman's creation of the party, saying it was a ploy to secure a better position on the ballot. In Connecticut, minor party candidates are listed on the ballot before unaffiliated party candidates.

Orman said he hopes to keep the Connecticut for Lieberman party active and endorse a Senate candidate in 2010.