U.S. Senate candidate Matt Lieberman is under intense pressure to drop out of the race by fellow Democrats using a deeply personal argument: They say he’s poised to spoil the party’s chances at a victory in Georgia, much in the same way a long-shot contender hobbled his father’s bid for vice president.
Worried that Lieberman could siphon votes in a messy special election from Raphael Warnock, the party establishment’s favorite, they’re drawing parallels between his campaign and that of Ralph Nader, a Green Party candidate whom Democrats blamed for costing Al Gore and Joe Lieberman the 2000 election by taking votes from them in Florida.
“Were it not for Ralph Nader, Joe Lieberman could have been the first Jewish vice president and likely the first Jewish president,” said Michael Rosenzweig, a leader of a group of Jewish Democrats in Georgia aiming to push Lieberman out of the race.
Rosenzweig added that while Matt Lieberman is well respected in local circles, “we believe that he doesn’t have a realistic chance of winning this thing."
"He does have a chance of knocking Warnock out of the runoff, though, which will be very troubling,” Rosenzweig said.
Lieberman, a former principal of the Atlanta Jewish Academy, has roundly rejected talk of quitting the race, saying he has as much shot as Warnock to defeat Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler. But a series of polls out this week suggest that’s not the case.
Each poll shows Lieberman hovering around 10% of the vote while Warnock, pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, has roughly double his support and is running neck-and-neck with Loeffler and Republican US. Rep. Doug Collins in the special election.
Those very same polls have become part of Lieberman’s reasoning for staying in the race.
“Either I’m in a statistical dead heat with Warnock or I’m sufficiently far behind not to be a threat,” Lieberman said in an interview. “Those are the two possibilities going forward. And if I end up at 10%, I pose no threat whatsoever to Warnock advancing. If I’m at 20%, I’m every bit as strong as he is.”
Despite Warnock’s rise, Democrats are increasingly expressing concerns that Lieberman’s presence in the contest will take just enough votes away from Warnock to allow the two Republicans to squeeze ahead, depriving the party of a shot in a January runoff between the top two finishers.
And all the endorsements from current US senators who have also endorsed everyone else Chuck Schumer has asked them to.— Matt Lieberman (@LiebermanForGa) September 25, 2020