Joe Lieberman Qualifies for November Ballot With New Party

U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman has gathered more than the 7,500 signatures needed to secure a spot on the November ballot with a new party, the secretary of the state said Wednesday.

The certification means that Lieberman, the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2000 and a presidential candidate in 2004, will run for re-election as part of the Connecticut for Lieberman party against Democrat Ned Lamont and Republican Alan Schlesinger.

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said her office validated 8,215 signatures before employees stopped counting. The campaign collected more than 18,500 signatures, but Bysiewicz's office did not validate them all because they were not needed.

"We are happy to have cleared this hurdle, so we can focus on bringing people together in Connecticut for a new politics of unity and purpose," said Dan Gerstein, Lieberman's campaign spokesman.

Lieberman lost the Aug. 8 primary to Lamont, a Greenwich businessman who criticized Lieberman for supporting the Iraq war and for being too close to Republicans and President Bush. Lamont's 10,000-vote victory was seen as a referendum on an unpopular war and political pundits say it could have national implications.

The day after the primary, Lieberman submitted petitions to create his own political party and appear on the ballot. All of the signatures had to be verified with clerks in the cities and towns where they were gathered.

"Connecticut's rules are different than most states," said Tom Swan, Lamont's campaign manager. "Joe can and has asked for a do-over. We're confident that our message of change will trump his stay-the-course message in November."

Creating a new party allows Lieberman to secure a position higher on the ballot than running as an independent, but he says he would still vote with Democrats if re-elected.

An American Research Group poll Tuesday showed Lieberman and Lamont about even among likely voters, with Lieberman receiving 44 percent of the vote, Lamont 42 percent and Schlesinger 3 percent. Last week's Quinnipiac University poll showed Lieberman leading Lamont by 12 percentage points among likely voters.