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Joe Lieberman Quips: When Regis Retires, I Retire

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) (Don Emmert/AFP/Getty)

Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut confirmed on Wednesday that he will not seek another term. When he addressed a crowd of supporters and press at a Marriott hotel in Stamford, the politician said his wife Hadassa once asked him how long he was going to stay in the Senate and he came up with this response:

“I promise you, that when Regis leaves television, I’ll leave the Senate," he quipped. “And here we are.”

Lieberman first became a Senator in 1988. Al Gore picked him as his running mate in 2000, and since then, Lieberman's relationship with the Democratic party has been a little rocky. TV personality Regis Philbin announced his retirement from his long-running daytime show on Tuesday.

“I have not always fit comfortably into conventional political boxes,” he said Wednesday. “Maybe you’ve noticed that.”

During his last reelection campaign, Lieberman’s support for the Iraq war became a controversial issue, and he was defeated in the Democratic primary. But he went on to win a fourth term, running as an independent. He caused more headaches for Democrats in 2008, when he chose to support Republican John McCain in the presidential election over Barack Obama. He even spoke at the Republican National Convention.

Lieberman also became a central figure in keeping a public option out of the health care overhaul law, sparking some protests in his home state.

More recently, Lieberman got back in the good graces of some Democrats by introducing the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Lieberman will be missed by Connecticut’s defense industry. He’s used his position as the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee and seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee to help bring business to the state’s submarine and aircraft manufacturers.

John Olson is the president of the CT AFL-CIO. He said Lieberman’s announcement is tough for the state, particularly coming just after longtime Democratic Senator Chris Dodd’s retirement this year.

“One could agree or disagree with the senator,” Olson said moments before the announcement. “But for sure the Senate that operates with seniority being important, we’ve lost two senior senators and we’ve got a lot of work to do to catch up.”

The race to succeed Lieberman is already underway. On Tuesday, Connecticut’s former Secretary of the State, Susan Bysiewicz announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination. And two Democratic Congressmen, Chris Murphy and Joe Courtney, have said they’re interested. On the Republican side, Linda McMahon, the former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment who lost a race for Chris Dodd’s seat in 2010, has said she may run. 

As for Lieberman, he's still a senator until January of 2013.

“Having made this decision not to run enables me to spend the next two years in the Senate devoting the full measure of my energy and attention to getting things done for Connecticut and our country,” he said Wednesday.

An advisor to the senator said he’s now freed up to work without the political pressure of running again, and he has a lot he wants to achieve. Lieberman said that among his top priorities are winning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, improving the economy and addressing climate change. 

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