Iraq loomed larger on the US political landscape yesterday, after a prominent Democratic senator was denied renomination for a fourth term largely because of his support for the war.
Longtime US Senator Joe Lieberman, however, vowed to fight for his job. After conceding Tuesday's Democratic primary vote, he announced that he would run as an independent in November's general election.
Lieberman's outspoken support for the US administration's war in Iraq was rejected by many voters in the lawmaker's northeastern home state of Connecticut, and seems likely to become an issue in November.
Lieberman -- Al Gore's running mate in the 2000 presidential election won by now-President George W. Bush -- was challenged for his Senate seat by Lamont, fellow Democrat and businessman.
With 99.6 percent of precincts reporting early yesterday, businessman challenger Ned Lamont prevailed with 52 percent of the vote to Lieberman's 48 percent, according to the Hartford Courant newspaper.
"The old politics of partisan polarization won today," the Hartford Courant quoted Lieberman as saying as he conceded the primary election, which chooses a party's nominee for the November general election.
"For the sake of our state, our country and my party, I cannot and will not let that result stand," he added before announcing his decision to run outside the party.
The balloting comes with Iraq likely to be the top issue in November, and offers what pundits believe could be a preview of that election, when voters could return control of Congress -- currently held by the Republicans -- back to Democrats.
Lamont, 52, a wealthy businessman from the tony village of Greenwich, Connecticut who boasts a net worth of some US$100 million, vowed to hold the administration's feet to the fire on Iraq and US national security issues.
"I think the issues were on our side. People fundamentally want a change in Washington," he told MSNBC television on Tuesday.
"The people in Connecticut think that staying the course is not a winning strategy in Iraq. They want to start bringing our troops home. They want to start investing that money back in the United States of America," Lamont said.