John Olsen, left and James Amann, rightSpeaker of the House James Amann, D-Milford and AFL-CIO President John Olsen defended U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman and asked the media to look hard at his challenger’s record, but when asked what exactly they meant by record, the answer wasn’t exactly clear. Were they talking about where Ned Lamont stands on the issues in the race or were they talking about Lamont’s family history?
Amann said Ned Lamont, who is challenging Lieberman for his U.S. Senate seat, has “no record.” He said Lamont was like Ford’s failed Edsel automobile, which received tons of publicity before it was released, but fell flat once the public saw how conventional it was. Lamont represents the “minority of the minority of our party,” Amann said. He said Lieberman is a “Democrat who represents all democrats,” and unless he’s re-elected, the Democratic party is “not going to get the unity it needs after the primary.” Olsen, a former Greenwich resident himself, said Lamont is a “decent guy”, but he’s too wealthy to understand what it means to bootstrap. Lieberman, on the other hand, came from a modest background and worked his way through life overcoming adversity, Olsen said. “Ned shouldn’t feel guilty about it, but he just hasn’t had the life experience,” he added. Olsen and Amann urged the media Thursday to dig deeper into Lamont’s background and ask “Who is Ned Lamont?“It seems the New York Times beat the rest of the media to it in an article it ran Thursday. The article, “Lieberman Uses Rival’s Wealth As Issue In Race”, seemed to conclude that Lamont may have come from wealth, but became a successful businessman on his own. The New York Times quoted Stephen M. Jenks, a managing partner at Capital Resource Partners of Boston, who also sits on Lamont Digital’s board saying, Lamont is “self-made.” “None of his family members are shareholders, so you have to assume they didn’t put up money,” Jenks told the New York Times. Once the class issue is deflated, Lieberman’s record again becomes the question. Olsen said the U.S. Senate race should not be about the Iraq War. Olsen said he opposed the war too, but it doesn’t mean he’s going to abandon Lieberman, on that one issue. But according to Thursday’s Quinnipiac University poll other likely primary voters have already jumped ship. Lamont pulled ahead of the incumbent by 13 percent. Among Lamont supporters, 65 percent say their vote is mainly against Lieberman, the poll of 890 likely primary voters found. Lieberman’s support for the war in Iraq is the main reason they are voting for the challenger, 44 percent of Lamont voters say, with 50 percent who say the war is one of the reasons. The poll had a 3 percent margin of error. At a bus tour stop in West Hartford Thursday, Lieberman said those statistics were the most “troubling.” He said this is not a referendum on George Bush and the Iraq War. “I’m asking people to come out and cast a positive vote for me,” he said. “Polls don’t vote. Voters vote,” he said. During a random stop in a Bishops Corner strip mall, Lieberman told a customer in a framing shop, “I know I can do more for the state.” He asked all five people in the store for their votes on Tuesday and told them, “I think every vote is going to count.” As far as the petition drive to get on the ballot in November, he said he has “intentionally kept it at a distance.” He said he was confident he was going to win the primary, which would make a third-party run unnecessary. Lieberman reads the book “My Jack” to children at a West Hartford Library. “This could be one of the high points in my day,” he told the children who laughed. “You got it,” he said delighted they had understood the joke.