Chairman Lieberman?

Will Democrats allow the opponent of their party's candidate to take over a key committee if they win back the Senate in November?

Published August 16, 2006 6:04PM (EDT)

The Hill offers a depressing reminder for progressives hoping that Democrats will take the Senate in November and then launch serious investigations into the doings of the Bush administration: The senior Democrat on the Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is none other than Joe Lieberman.

In the normal course of things, that would mean that Lieberman would become the chairman of the committee if the Democrats win back the Senate in November. But there's nothing particularly normal about the Lieberman situation right now. With the three-term senator running against his party's nominee in Connecticut, the Hill says that Senate Democrats could decide to strip Lieberman of his seniority -- and with it, his presumptive entitlement to the chairmanship -- if he and they both prevail in November.

"At this point Lieberman cannot expect to just keep his seniority," an unidentified senior Democratic aide tells the Hill. "He can't run against a Democrat and expect to waltz back to the caucus with the same seniority as before. It would give the view that the Senate is a country club rather than representative of a political party and political movement."

Not that there's anything wrong with country clubs, mind you. According to the tabs-keeping Bob Geiger, only 25 of the 44 Democrats in the Senate are on board so far in support of the Democratic Party's nominee in Connecticut.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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