Connecticut’s Joseph Lieberman, perhaps the most prominent Jewish member of the U.S. Senate, won’t seek a fifth term, he announced on Wednesday.
"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven," the Democrat turned independent told a crowd of suporters in Stamford, according to the Associated Press. "At the end of this term, I will have served 24 years in the U.S. Senate and 40 years in elective office. For me, it is time for another season and another purpose under Heaven." He insisted slipping poll numbers and an expected tough re-election battle next year did not infuence his decision. "So what else is new?" he asked.
Lieberman, 68, who is religiously observant, was the Democratic nominee for vice president on the 2000 ticket with Al Gore and ran for president in 2004, but failed to win the party’s nomination. He said at the time he was proud that his religion and the restrictions of being a Sabbath observer never became an issue as he traveled the nation on the campaign trail.
His support for President George W. Bush’s 2003 decision to invade Iraq upset enough constituents in his liberal state to cost him the Democratic nomination in 2006, although he prevailed against Ned Lamont as an independent. Lieberman supported Republican Senator John McCain in 2008 over the Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, even speaking on his behalf at the Republican National Convention, further alienating himself from the Democrats.
If Lieberman were to seek another term he would face challenges from both Republicans and Democrats.
“He would have been banged at from both sides of the aisle,” said Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf. “The Democrats are moving to the left, the Republicans are moving to the right and Lieberman is caught in the center. This is another wise man making an appropriate decision.”
Lieberman was Connecticut’s attorney general when he was elected to the Senate in 1987. His successor, Richard Blumenthal, who is also Jewish, was elected to the state’s junior senate seat in November, replacing Chris Dodd.