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John Conyers on the Lieberman Rejection Election: The People Have Spoken

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Message John Conyers
It is the day after a hotly contested primary in Connecticut. I did not endorse either candidate in that primary. As a general matter and with few exceptions, I don't get involved in primaries because I view them as a means for the Democrats in that state to determine their preference.

A lot of post-hoc analysis is going on today. Was this an anti-war vote? Was this a vote against an out-of-touch incumbent? Was it a vote against the President or those who ally too closely with him? And what does it mean for November.

I don't know the answers to those questions, but there is one thing about which we can be certain. Two Democrats squared off in an election and the voters spoke. Period.

This was not a low turnout non-event on a hot August day. It was a primary in which the Democratic electorate turned out in numbers far exceeding expectations for a primary. A substantial number of voters who supported and opposed the incumbent wanted to have their voices heard.

In the end, it was a decisive and historic victory. Ned Lamont won and Joe Lieberman lost.

I am already concerned that Senator Lieberman's independent bid seems destined to divide Democrats in the most insidious ways. His supporters have called Ned Lamont an "Al Sharpton Democrat" and this morning Lieberman stated on the Today Show that he was committed "to bringing the Democratic Party back from the extreme, back from Ned Lamont and Maxine Waters." It is not lost on me that both of these appeals seem designed to peel off support for Mr. Lamont by highlighting his support from prominent African Americans. This type of rhetoric degrades the political process and should not be tolerated.

Losing a campaign is tough. But for one who has carried the banner of the Democratic Party for thirty years, has been awarded the party's nomination to the Senate three times, and has been chosen to fill a Presidential ticket, now it is time to abide the wishes of his electorate and show the same support that the party has shown him over the full course of his career. Senator Lieberman should reject the bitterness of losing and the politics of division and bring the party together for November.

When primaries are over and Democrats in a state have made their choice, all Democratic elected officials, everywhere, have an obligation to coalesce around that choice. Now, the choice is Senator Lieberman's: will he do the right thing and respect the choice of his party or tarnish a respected career in public service?

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Representative John Conyers, Jr., a Detroit Democrat, was re-elected to the 14th Congressional District in November 2004, to his 20 term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
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