Save Lieberman!

Several prominent Democratic senators are working to save the divisive Connecticut senator's committee chairmanship.

Published November 12, 2008 9:55PM (EST)

You can't get rid of ol' Joe that easily. Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman may have openly campaigned for John McCain, but that doesn't mean Senate Democrats are going to do anything about it.

Politico reports Wednesday that a number of prominent Senate Democrats are working behind the scenes to help Lieberman keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Senate Democrats will vote by secret ballot next week to determine whether Lieberman will keep the position. Chris Dodd -- the other senator from Connecticut -- is one of those Democrats named as fighting most strongly on Lieberman's behalf, along with Colorado's Ken Salazar, Indiana's Evan Bayh, Delaware's Tom Carper and Florida's Bill Nelson.

Politico quotes an anonymous Senate Democratic aide who said of Lieberman, "He's got momentum, and we need to keep him in the caucus, and this fits into Barack Obama's message of change and moving forward. The message here is that we don't want to start off a new era with retribution."

Tuesday, on Keith Olbermann's show, reporter Howard Fineman said that assistant majority leader and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin is now also moving over to Lieberman's side.  Though he had been upset by Lieberman's support of McCain, Durbin apparently has been influenced by Obama's desire to overcome political divisiveness.

On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Obama told Talking Points Memo that the president-elect doesn't "hold any grudges" against Lieberman. Asked about Lieberman's chairmanship status, the spokeswoman replied, "We aren’t going to referee decisions about who should or should not be a committee chair."

Last week, Lieberman met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and told Reid that if he lost his chairmanship, he'd leave the Democratic caucus.

By Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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