Lieberman: Time for a New Chapter

"It is the right decision and, I must say, I am excited about beginning a new chapter of life with new opportunities,” he said

By LeAnne Gendreau
|  Wednesday, Jan 19, 2011  |  Updated 5:43 PM EDT
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Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman is ending his 24-year career in the U.S. Senate.

“The reason I have decided not to run for re-election in 2012 is best expressed in the wise words from Ecclesiastes: ‘To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven,’” he said. ”For me, it is time for another season and another purpose under Heaven.”

Lieberman is currently serving his fourth term and said deciding not to seek a fifth was difficult.

“This was not an easy decision for me to make because I have loved serving in the Senate and I feel good about what I have accomplished. But I know it is the right decision and, I must say, I am excited about beginning a new chapter of life with new opportunities,” he said.

Lieberman, a long-time Democrat, was elected as an Independent in 2006 after losing the Democratic primary to Ned Lamont. Since then, he has often sided with Republicans in the Senate, and there has been a lot of talk about whether Lieberman's next run would be as an Independent, Democrat or as a Republican.

He addressed on Wednesday the issue of political party.

“Along the way, I have not always fit comfortably into conventional political boxes—Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative. I have always thought that my first responsibility is not to serve a political party but to serve my constituents, my state, and my country, and then to work across party lines to make sure good things get done for them. Whatever the partisan or policy differences that divide us, they are much less important than the shared values and dreams that unite us and that require us to work together to make progress for all. To me, that is what public service and leadership is all about.”

As 2012 approaches, there has been speculation that he would be in a difficult race. On Wednesday, he said he is no stranger to difficult election seasons.
“I know that some people have said that if I ran for reelection, it would be a difficult campaign for me. But what else is new? It probably would be. I have run many difficult campaigns before—from my first one in 1970 against the incumbent Democratic State Senate Majority Leader, to my 1988 campaign against the incumbent Republican U.S. Senator, to my campaign for re-election to the Senate in 2006 at the height of the controversy over the Iraq war. In all three of those elections most observers and pollsters thought I would not win. But with a lot of help from Independents, Democrats and Republicans—including many of you here today—in each case I did win,” he said.

During his speech, he also thanked Connecticut voters.

“For the extraordinary opportunities to serve our state and country that I’ve had, I’m personally grateful to the voters of Connecticut whom I can never thank enough. But I have tried to thank them—to thank you—by working hard, to get good things done for you, our state and our country,” he said.

He also spoke with optimism about the future of the country.

“One thing that has not changed over the years is my love for America. … I know that we have gone through tough times recently, but I could not be more confident about our future. So don’t let anyone convince you that America’s best days are over. Believe with me that America’s best days are ahead of us. The fact is that we the American people have repeatedly come together and done what others said we could not do. And we will do so again and again in the future,” he said.

What the next chapter will bring is not clear, but Lieberman intends to spend the next two years devoting energy and attention to “getting things done for Connecticut and for our country.”

“I will keep doing everything I can to keep our economy growing and get our national debt under control, to combat climate change, to end our dependency on foreign oil, and to reform our immigration laws. And when my Senate chapter draws to a close in 2013, I look forward to new opportunities that will allow me to continue to serve our country—and to stay engaged and involved in the causes that I have spent my career working on, and that I care so much about,” he said.

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