Lamont Still Stumping for the Cause

Posted August 3, 2007 at 6:28pm

Liberal bloggers and New England candidates are hoping millionaire businessmen from Greenwich, Conn., are still all the rage next fall.

Ned Lamont, whose Web-driven insurgency campaign deprived Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) of the Constitution State’s Democratic Senate nomination last year, is still working for Internet-based causes and Democratic candidates.

Lamont spent the past weekend in Chicago attending the YearlyKos convention. He was an example of what the net roots, such as readers of the DailyKos Web site, can do for underdog candidates.

Lamont also spent his time in the Windy City lending the presidential campaign of Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) his blogging credentials.

Lamont has given Dodd $2,300 for his long-shot bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. He also has campaigned on behalf of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee chairman in New Hampshire.

Though Dodd was a “strong supporter” of Lieberman’s in the primary, he sided with Lamont in November when Lieberman was re-elected as an Independent, Lamont said.

This weekend, the clean-cut, low-key cable TV executive will visit Maine to help Chellie Pingree in her effort to secure the Democratic nomination to replace Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine), who is vacating his 1st district seat to challenge Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). He is also helping Allen.

“I’m interested in helping anyone who will challenge the status quo and the war,” Lamont said.

Last month he addressed the blogosphere, which propelled him from political obscurity into the national spotlight, on behalf of ActBlue. The two-year-old organization collects small donations via its Web site and disperses the money to Democratic candidates.

“We try to keep in touch with a lot of candidates and he’s one of them who just did something really phenomenal when he ran,” ActBlue co-founder Matt DeBergalis explained about Lamont’s current appeal.

DeBergalis said ActBlue’s mission can be difficult to explain, so the group wanted candidates who have enjoyed significant success with the site to spread the word.

“We saw it as almost an educational effort,” DeBergalis explained.

A lot of media attention garnered by bloggers and the net roots focuses on how much money those channels can raise for candidates. For example, ActBlue drove $500,000 to Lamont’s primary campaign alone.

Lamont’s missive was meant to go beyond that aspect, DeBergalis said.

“The online community is not an ATM,” he said.

Lamont has a summer home in Maine that makes him a neighbor of Pingree’s.

“We’re really excited to have Ned because he became such a high-profile figure in the last campaign,” Pingree said.

On Aug. 12, Lamont will appear at campaign events in Harpswell and Portland, Maine, with Pingree, who is a former state Senate Majority Leader and one-time president of Common Cause.

“In a Democratic primary, in particular, Ned Lamont to a lot of people is a household name, even though he doesn’t come from Maine,” Pingree said. Lamont supported Pingree in her unsuccessful 2002 Senate campaign as well. Pingree lost to Collins that year.

Lamont, who taught a class earlier this year at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, said he is “keeping myself involved in issues as bet I can.” This fall he will teach a class at Yale University.

That is in addition to helping Allen, Dodd, Pingree and Jim Himes. Himes is the choice of national Democrats to take on Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), the only Republican to survive Democrats Congressional sweep in Connecticut last year.

Lamont said he would consider running for another office, though he tells people he does not know if he will.

“After spending a year and a half of your life to do your utmost to make some improvements in your country” it is hard to just drop out of public view, Lamont said.

“You look around this state and most of these guys stay around forever,” he said about the Nutmeg State. “There are other ways you can serve.”

Lamont said he is starting a policy institute at Central Connecticut University and working with the state Legislature on policy initiatives.