Party loyalty usually less important than winning
Party loyalty goes only so far for both candidates and voters.
Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., could lose his renomination bid in his state's Democratic primary Aug. 8, so he has a backup plan: He'll collect petition signatures and, if necessary, file to run as an independent in the November election.
Mr. Lieberman's political problem is his support of President Bush's increasingly unpopular war policies. Antiwar candidate Ned Lamont seems to have momentum with Connecticut's Democratic voters.
It's startling that six years ago Mr. Lieberman was the Democratic Party's nominee for vice president — Al Gore's running mate. But political survival takes higher priority than his party.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., says she will support the Democratic nominee in the Connecticut race, whether or not it's Lieberman. She can hardly afford to say otherwise if she wants a shot at the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 2008.
Meanwhile in Alabama, officeholders elected as Democrats become born-again Republicans because they think most votes are in the GOP. But some voters still express frustration that they can't split their tickets in primary elections. They want to vote for the people they like, not the parties.
Party affiliation tells you something about a candidate's philosophy and which crowd he runs with. But it doesn't give you the whole picture. Whether he calls himself Republican or Democrat (or, for that matter, conservative or liberal), remember that getting elected is probably the dearest thing to his heart.