updated 11/10/2006 11:40:18 AM ET 2006-11-10T16:40:18

Sen. Joe Lieberman, who won re-election as an independent, has a message for his Senate colleagues in the next Congress: Call me a Democrat.

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The three-term Connecticut lawmaker defied party leaders when he launched his independent bid after losing to Democrat Ned Lamont in the August primary. During the campaign, he vowed to be an "independent-minded Democrat" if he were re-elected. In Tuesday's election, Lieberman won strong GOP support and given the closely divided Senate, Republicans are expected to court him.

So will he count as a Democrat or an independent who caucuses with the majority Democrats? In an e-mail message late Thursday, Lieberman spokesman Dan Gerstein said the senator will begin his new term as a Democrat.

With the Democratic takeover of the Senate, Lieberman is in line to become chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

In a post-election news conference, Lieberman said he was reassured by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid that he would retain his seniority when the new Senate convenes.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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