With a Democratic primary victory under his belt, Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont said Monday he's hoping to coax some of U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman's union supporters and other groups to switch allegiances and support him in November.
"I'm reaching out to everybody across the state," Lamont said. "That's what you do. It's a general election."
Meanwhile, Lieberman is working to shore up support for his independent run at a time when many state Democratic leaders have announced they're now backing Lamont. Since Tuesday's primary, Lieberman has been working the phones, hoping to persuade various union and political leaders to stay the course and back him as an independent.
On Monday, one top Connecticut Democrat, House Speaker James Amann, D-Milford, announced he'll continue to support Lieberman. Amann said Lieberman called him three times since the primary loss to Lamont, asking for his support.
"There are times when you stand with a friend, no matter what the political costs may be," said Amann, who believes Lieberman is more qualified than Lamont and has a track record of getting things done for Connecticut.
Election Day countdown
With the general election 12 weeks away, both Lieberman and Lamont are working to line up political help as they enter a three-way race with Republican Alan Schlesinger for the U.S. Senate seat.
Both campaigns are hoping a new round of political endorsements will help lock in some much-needed votes.
"He's been making a lot of phone calls, talking to as many labor leaders as he can and not being shy about asking for their support," Lieberman campaign spokesman Dan Gerstein said. As of Monday, Lieberman's campaign had not heard of any unions that supported the three-term senator during the primary jumping to Lamont.
Lamont on Monday met privately with leaders of the Service Employees International Union state council and New England Health Care Workers, District 1199, hoping to garner their endorsement. Both had held off from making an endorsement in the Senate primary. Lamont has met with leaders of other unions as well, according to his campaign.
Lamont, who lost most of the major union endorsements to Lieberman during the primary, said he has no plans to change his message when he returns to seek their support.
"I got into this race talking about bringing our troops home, talking about investing in our country again, talking about fiscal responsibility, talking about the environment," said Lamont, on hand Monday morning at the Hartford Public Library to help honor Chanelle Adams, a local teen who organized neighborhood cleanup efforts. "I don't see any reason to change my message. I've got a broader audience and I'm very pleased for that."
Former North Carolina U.S. Sen. John Edwards, the Democrats' 2004 vice presidential nominee, will be in New Haven on Thursday campaigning for Lamont.
Amann, who has known Lieberman for 25 years, said he expects other Connecticut Democrats will come forward for the centrist Democrat in the coming weeks. Last week, Waterbury Mayor Michael Jarjura, who considers himself a moderate to conservative Democrat, announced he will back Lieberman and his independent campaign.
"There's a lot of people out there who haven't spoken yet," said Amann, adding that he believes some of the state Democrats who appeared last week at a so-called "unity rally" with Lamont will vote for Lieberman once they enter the voting booth this fall.
"If every voter thinks deeply about this, if they appreciate how critical seniority is in Washington, there is only one conclusion," Amann said.