Civil Rights Champions Rally for Lamont, DeStefano

by Melissa Bailey | August 3, 2006 9:23 AM | | Comments (3)

Just a few blocks away from where U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman staged an embarrassingly flaccid reelection “rally” two days earlier in the heart of New Haven’s black community, the Rev. Jesse Jackson energized a packed house at Dixwell’s Mount Bethel AME Church on behalf of Lieberman’s surging challenger in the Aug. 8 primary, Ned Lamont, as well as Democratic gubernatorial primary candidate John DeStefano. Jackson decried Joe Lieberman as a Bush apologist and called the Senate primary a fight for the “identity” of the Democratic Party.

“Connecticut is a battleground state,” Jackson, the latest in a string of national civil-rights figures flocking to Connecticut to help Lamont defeat Lieberman, said at Wednesday night’s rally. (A new poll shows challenger Lamont leaping to a 13-point lead.) He took time to tour with Lamont and DeStefano Wednesday, just days before the Aug. 8 primary. The Rev. Al Sharpton joined them elsewhere in the state but, after a long day campaigning for Lamont, didn’t make it to New Haven.

“The issues in this state will define the course of our nation,” said Jackson of the Senate race. “The direction of our nation, the priorities of our nation” — “that’s what’s at stake.” He fought the characterization of Lamont’s campaign as a “single issue” race focused on the war, but made clear the war was the mobilizing factor. “This is no single issue — it’s a central issue. It defines our time.” “Lieberman says, ‘Mr. Bush I’m with you,’ and Ned Lamont says, ‘Let’s end the war.’”

On Lieberman’s decision to (quietly) gather signatures to run as an independent in case he loses to Lamont in the primary, Jackson called out, “That’s a shame! He should play by the rules, play by the rules, play by the rules.”

“You say Mr. Lamont’s got a lot of money, he can’t relate to the poor,” said Jackson. “A lot of poor people can’t relate to the poor!” Jackson said Lamont’s experience volunteer teaching in a Bridgeport high school and his support for universal health care and a higher minimum wage were a better judge of his commitment.

Lamont gave a short stump speech and hard push to get out the vote from the largely black audience: “The Reverend Jackson is here because your vote makes a difference. On Tuesday, you have a real choice.” Jackson drummed up campaign volunteers from the audience.

DeStefano got a shorter, but significant intro from the legendary reverend: Jackson thanked him for upping the city graduation rate and supporting universal health care and pre-K programs.

Meanwhile, Dan Malloy, DeStefano’s opponent in the governor’s race, tried to kill the buzz from DeStefano’s Sharpton/Jackson energy boost with a pre-emptive strike. In a press release, Malloy’s campaign called on Sharpton and Jackson to “hear the voice of the community” of New Haven, including former New Haven Mayor John Daniels and State Rep. Bill Dyson, who have broken for Malloy.

“This is probably the most exciting election that we’ve seen since John Daniels ran for mayor,” said Scott Esdaile, president of the Connecticut NAACP, milling around the air-conditioned hallways before the service. Esdaile can’t take sides in the race, but he said Lamont’s “anti-war element is generating a lot of excitement in the black community.” How often do Bill Clinton (pro-Lieberman through the primary) and “premier black leaders” like (pro-Lamont) California Congresswoman Maxine Waters come to Connecticut, fighting “toe to toe, pound for pound” for a primary?

The evening rally filled pews with sticker-clad DeStefanistas and curious locals. One listener, Linda Louison, said she still hadn’t made up her mind, but felt the candidates “spoke from the heart.” Loria Morrison, a local pastor, said she’s voting for Lamont because “you can feel he’s really for the people.” Money should be taken out of Iraq and brought “back to the people,” she said. How does she feel about Lieberman? “Sometimes you can be in a position for a long time, you lose who you are.”

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Posted by: Jim | August 4, 2006 2:43 AM

The endorsements from anti-semites of the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton is all the more reason that mainstream voters should support Joe Lieberman on August 8th and beyond. You can tell from a candidates endorsements where they stand along the idealogical spectrum, and this endorsement is very telling.

Posted by: Paul | August 4, 2006 8:08 AM

What's going to happen to Lieberman is what's going to happen to all the other good little small-minder Bush lackeys. They're all going to be thrown out of office or lose before even getting there. The pendulum on the scales of justice are finally begining to shift to the other direction now ~

Posted by: BJFAIR | August 4, 2006 11:35 AM

Jackson stated that "the issues of this state will define the course of or nation" and that "the direction of our nation, the priorities of our nation" is "what's at stake". When I pull that lever on August 8, I will do so without hearing Lamont, Liberman,Rell, Malloy nor Destfano even tip toe over those issues that SHOULD BE of NATIONAL IMPORTANCE and that is the mass INCARCERATION of people of color and the poor throughout this ENTIRE NATION and the DRUG WAR that is directly associated with the ever growing industry.They are issues that certainly define the course of this nation and has been for over 40 years yet noone, including the Black "leaders" who are allowing themselves to be pimped for votes have the guts to address either with the exception of CLIFF THORTON, the Green Party candidate for governor in Connecticut. Wake up Black, Brown and poor America!!!!

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