Sen. Joe Lieberman has not made many friends in the past few years. The retiring Independent has frustrated some Democrats recently by meeting with Republican candidates for his Senate seat, as well as GOP presidential contenders. Because the party holds such a tenuous majority in the chamber, some feel they cant punish him.
Lieberman’s pending departure from Capitol Hill would appear to render useless any punitive measures on the part of Senate Democrats to quell his recent actions. However, the fact that Lieberman is retiring has also diminished the sting of the disappointment many Democrats feel because of the Senator’s behavior. One Democratic strategist described the feeling in the Conference as one of “indifference,” adding: “It’s just Joe being Joe.”
But another Democratic operative said there is palpable discontent within the Conference, particularly over Lieberman’s willingness to meet with and potentially advise Republican Senate candidates vying to replace him.
Still, Democrats concede they can ill afford to chase a Member out of the Conference given the fact that their majority rests on four seats.
“Advising Republican candidates for his own Senate seat is pretty outrageous and runs against what he said he’d do. I think folks are increasingly concerned again,” a Democratic Senate aide said. “But he’s got a year left and we only have 53 votes, so there is frustration, but better to have him inside the tent ... than outside.”