John Orman is more than just a professor at Connecticut's Fairfield University. As of this past weekend, assuming the Connecticut Secretary of State's Office accedes, Orman is also the chairman and sole member of Connecticut for Lieberman, the political party created by Sen. Joe Lieberman for his independent Senate run. But don't expect Orman to be an enthusiastic supporter of his own party.
Orman has long been a vocal opponent of Lieberman's; in 2000, he filed a complaint against the senator, then the Democratic nominee for vice president, charging that Lieberman should not have been allowed to run for vice president and reelection to the Senate at the same time. Last year, he was the first to challenge Lieberman's reelection campaign; after Orman dropped out of the race, Ned Lamont sought his advice and credited him with blazing the trail to Lamont's eventual primary defeat of Lieberman. And when Lieberman filed the papers that marked the birth of Connecticut for Lieberman, Orman was there, once again, to file a complaint with the secretary of state.
We spoke with Orman -- whose new rules for the party include one that states, "If any CFL candidate loses our party's nomination in a primary, that candidate must bolt our party, form a new party and work to defeat our party-endorsed candidate" -- on Monday afternoon.
You previously described the party you now run as fake.
Absolutely. And I got rulings from the state that said no, it's legitimate, Sen. Lieberman is going to start a political party, it's not a party of one, he hasn't broken any rule. So basically, I would like the state to make rulings against me that they don't have the courage to make against Joe. I hope the state will say that my political party is a party of one, you can't have a political party of one person, it's a farce, there's no such entity as Connecticut for Lieberman. So I hope the state officials and the lawyers and the Elections Enforcement Commission make three rulings that they were afraid of or unable to make against Joe.
So your feelings on the party haven't changed at all now that you're its chairman?
No, because the state told me it's real, so I guess I'm the only citizen who bothered to register in this real party which nobody else registered in, and so I guess according to the state it's a real party.
Was it lonely at all at the conference where you were elected chairman?
Yeah. I had to nominate myself, second my own nomination, then send it to a vote. I voted for myself, of course, and I was elected unanimously.
That's good. That made you feel good?
Yeah, but now I'm getting all these e-mails, everyone wants to join my party, and if they do, that kind of defeats the whole purpose, because I'm trying to have a party of one declared not eligible in the state of Connecticut. We'll have to see what happens.
This isn't the first time you've opposed Lieberman. What is it about him that bothers you?
Well, I'm a progressive Democrat, and I think Joe is sitting on the fence, and he is a strong supporter of President Bush, supports the war in Iraq. For three weeks before the election, he said nobody in Connecticut wanted to bring the troops home more than Joe Lieberman did, and then the first Sunday after winning the election he was on Tim Russert's [show] and he said he might want to look into the proposal to send more troops to Iraq. He's got about a 90 percent Democratic voting record. I have no problem with those votes. I just disagree with his position on the war in Iraq, his strong support of President Bush.