Monday, August 27, 2007

Connecticut For Lieberman

Whose Party Is It?
The two leaders of the Connecticut for Lieberman party -- one who is for him, one against -- squabble over who gets to be chairman
By Adam Bulger
Hartford Advocate August 16, 2007

It's difficult, perhaps impossible, to forge accurate declarative sentences about the Connecticut for Lieberman political party. It seems that every attempt at a simple statement of fact needs to be qualified. Attempt to list a series of facts about it, and you end up with a paragraph pockmarked with parentheses.

Fairfield University politics professor John Orman is the elected chairman of the party (but he opposes Lieberman).

Cheshire resident and medical physicist Stuart Korchin is the chairman of the party (but no one elected him).

The party exists to advance Senator Lieberman's political career (except it doesn't, and Lieberman doesn't support it).

The second annual meeting of the party was held on August 9 (except one of the battling party chairmen contends it wasn't really a meeting at all).

There are two men claiming control of the party, which was started by Lieberman supporters after Lieberman lost the democratic primary to Ned Lamont on August 8, 2006.

The party is simultaneously one of the smallest political parties in Connecticut, with a membership numbering in the low two figures, and one of the most powerful, as it holds one of the highest offices in the state (sort of — sorry, last one.).

The man the party is named for is not a member of the party. And Korchin says he didn't consider inviting or even informing Lieberman about the Aug. 9 meeting when he planned the party's most recent event.

"[Lieberman's people] don't have much interest in doing much with the party right now, and I can't blame them to tell you the truth," Korchin said. "The party is really very small. I don't know that they're terribly interested."

Korchin, who some have accused of being a shill for Lieberman, denies having a relationship with the senator.

"I've met him. I've met him on more than one occasion, but not recently," Korchin said. "And he and his office have certainly not given any endorsements to what I'm doing or what the party's doing."

Korchin said he contacted party members about the event. Since Lieberman is a registered Democrat, that means he's likely blissfully unaware that the meeting took place. Actually, more than likely, as Korchin opted to not send him an invitation.

"I have no reason to contact his people," Korchin said.

Speaking before the Aug. 9 meeting, Korchin said he expected about 30 party members to attend the meeting. Assuming that's true — Korchin wouldn't tell me where or when the meeting as held — that would represent a 1900 percent increase from the previous CFL meeting Korchin organized; below the minutes from that meeting, held August 9, 2006, are reproduced, almost in their entirety.

"A meeting of the CONNECTICUT FOR LIEBERMAN Party was held at [Korchin's home in Cheshire] at 4:30. Membership currently consists of Stuart R. Korchin, a registered member of the party, attended. There being no current business, the meeting was adjourned."

Speaking before the meeting, Korchin promised this year's event would be much more involved. Lieberman isn't up for re-election until 2012.

"I have some items on the agenda, mainly about the future and what we're going to be doing in terms of activities," Korchin said. "I don't think we're going to make any endorsements this meeting, but I'm open to suggestion."

Another notable non-attendee to the meeting was nominal party official John Orman, who said he was not informed about the gathering.

"I'm the chair of the CFL, and it's unusual that the chair wouldn't be invited to a CFL meeting," Orman said.

Orman, a longtime state political activist, joined the party after Lieberman was elected to the Senate. Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz's office told him that no one was registered with the party, and Orman — who opposed Leiberman's bid for the senate — took the opportunity to "punk" the newly independent Senator by hijacking the party.

"What we said was that if the state was going to allow a fake institution to exist, we were going to turn that fake institution into a real party to hold Joe accountable," Orman said.

The political punking hit a snag after Korchin saw a New York Times article about Orman's takeover.

"First of all, it wasn't true. I was already a member of the party. Obviously, he was declaring he was the only member of the party, which was false," Korchin said.

Evidently, there was a problem with Korchin's registration.

"I don't know if it was the town registrar or a mistake at the Secretary of the State's office," Korchin said. "The people at the Secretary of the State's office were unaware I was already registered with the party."

Subsequently, Orman held his first party convention, which Korchin attended as one of the six registered party members. Korchin contests the legitimacy of that convention, saying that Orman took control of the party illegally.

While both men enjoy using interpretations of fine points of election law to their advantage, they sharply contrast in attitudes towards Lieberman.

Korchin is a Lieberman supporter. Orman switched his registration as a Steven Colbert-style political joke, and a way to protest what he views as legislative improprieties on Lieberman's part.

"He had this promise to start a new party. I consider that to be a false petition. He told the Secretary of the State he had every intention of forming a new party, but then didn't. To me, that was like electoral fraud," Orman said.

The Secretary of the State's and Lieberman's offices did not respond to requests for comment for this article.