Lieberman secures berth on ballot as independent
HARTFORD, Conn., Aug 23 (Reuters) US Senate Joseph Lieberman, fighting for political survival, has gathered enough voter signatures to be included on the November ballot as an independent, a Connecticut state official said today.
The 2000 vice-presidential candidate lost the Democratic primary vote in Connecticut to an anti-war rival this month, but is now running for re-election as an independent in a contest that has exposed deep divisions over the Iraq war.
Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz said her office had verified 8,215 voter signatures, more than the 7,500 needed to secure a berth on the ballot in a new party.
She told a news conference that Lieberman's campaign had gathered thousands more signatures that were not counted because the three-term senator had more than met the criteria for November's election.
Lieberman will run with the Connecticut for Lieberman party against Democrat Ned Lamont, a businessman and political novice who beat him in the primary, and Republican Alan Schlesinger, a former state legislator who is seen as little threat.
The White House has taken the rare step of declining tob back the Republican nominee, leading critics to accuse Lieberman of becoming the de-facto candidate for President George W. Bush.
Lieberman, who according to a poll released last week now leads the Senate race in the Democratic-leaning state, said on Sunday that he was ''devoted'' to his party and would remain in its congressional caucus if elected.
The race has attracted national attention for its emphasis on the war and Democratic anger at Bush. Lamont cast the race as a referendum on the war and urged voters to send a message to Bush and the Democratic establishment that was slow to embrace calls for a quick pullout of troops.
Lieberman has fought back, emphasizing his Democratic credentials and calling himself a reliable opponent of Bush's domestic agenda.
REUTERS MS PC2312