Blumenthal endorsed Lamont, but stayed on Lieberman’s good side

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal was careful not to alienate Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) in 2006 when many Democrats turned their back on the senior lawmaker after he lost in the Democratic primary.

Lieberman’s endorsement is up for grabs in the 2010 Connecticut Senate race. As an independent with supporters in the Democratic and Republican parties, Lieberman’s support could prove crucial in this year’s general election.

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Blumenthal announced his intention to run for the seat of retiring Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) at a press conference Tuesday.

The relationship between Lieberman and Dodd grew icy during the 2006 race when Dodd campaigned for Ned Lamont after he defeated Lieberman in a hard-fought Democratic primary. But they later put their differences aside, with Lieberman endorsing Dodd in his now aborted re-election bid.

While Blumenthal endorsed Lamont in 2006, he kept the Democratic primary winner at arm’s distance and made clear his continued affection for Lieberman. Blumenthal had supported Lieberman in the Democratic primary.

Blumenthal hugged Lieberman when they bumped into each other at an event celebrating the first anniversary of the saving of the Groton submarine base, an event that took place after Lamont’s primary triumph.

Blumenthal withheld financial support for Lamont. A search of campaign finance records on OpenSecrets.org, a website that tracks fundraising, failed to turn up any evidence that Blumenthal gave money to Lamont or Lieberman that year.

Blumenthal gave contributions to presidential candidate Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaUS set to admit fewest refugees in decades: report NRATV host says Obama owes Parkland students an apology over shooting Paltry wage gains, rising deficits two key tax reform concerns MORE in 2008 and Dodd in 2007. He gave $500 to Lieberman in 2003.

Many prominent Democrats in the state endorsed Lamont, but a few backed Lieberman, despite the wishes of most Democratic primary voters. State House Speaker James Amann (D-Milford) threw his support to Lieberman a few days after the primary.

One of Blumenthal’s few showings of public support for Lamont came a few days before Election Day when the two politicians walked alongside in a Veterans Day parade.

Lieberman walked along the same route in downtown Hartford accompanied by former Republican Rep. Nancy Johnson (Conn.).

Blumenthal quickly made amends, however. He called Lieberman to congratulate him on his victory immediately after the general election. Dodd and other Democratic officials who supported Lamont made the same gesture.

Lieberman says he has a good relationship with Blumenthal despite their differences during the 2006 race.

“Sen. Lieberman and Attorney General Blumenthal have enjoyed a cordial working relationship for many years,” said Erika Masonhall, a spokeswoman for Lieberman.

Masonhall said her boss would announce his endorsement in the race at a later date.

“Today is Senator Dodd's day,” she said. “Senator Lieberman is not making any endorsements until a later time.”

Blumenthal has called Lieberman a friend of more than three decades.

But Lieberman also has a friendly relationship with former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.), who is running the Republican Senate primary. Lieberman greeted Simmons warmly earlier this year when the candidate visited the U.S. Capitol.

Connecticut is usually a solidly Democratic state in federal elections but this year could prove an exception as Democrats are polling poorly across the nation in the midst of an ailing economy.