Joseph Isadore "Joe" Lieberman (born February 24, 1942) is the senior United States Senator from Connecticut. A former member of the Democratic Party, he was the party's nominee for Vice President in the 2000 election. Currently an independent, he remains closely affiliated with the party. Born in Stamford, Connecticut, Lieberman is a graduate of Yale University and Yale Law School. He was elected as a "reform Democrat" in 1970 to the Connecticut Senate, where he served three terms as Majority Leader. After an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1980, he served as state Attorney General from 1983 to 1989. Lieberman defeated moderate Republican Lowell Weicker in 1988 to win election to the United States Senate and was re-elected in 1994 and 2000. In the 2000 United States presidential election, Lieberman was the Democratic nominee for Vice President, running with presidential nominee Al Gore, becoming the first Jewish candidate on a major American political party presidential ticket. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in the 2004 presidential election. During his re-election bid in 2006, he lost the Democratic Party primary election but won re-election in the general election as a third party candidate under the party label "Connecticut for Lieberman". Lieberman was officially listed in Senate records for the 110th and 111th Congresses as an "Independent Democrat" and sits as part of the Senate Democratic Caucus. But since his speech at the 2008 Republican National Convention in which he endorsed John McCain for president, Lieberman no longer attends Democratic Caucus leadership strategy meetings or policy lunches. On November 5, 2008, Lieberman met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to discuss his future role with the Democratic Party. Ultimately, the Senate Democratic Caucus voted to allow Lieberman to keep chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Subsequently, Lieberman announced that he will continue to caucus with the Democrats. Lieberman announced in January 2011 that he will not seek re-election in 2012.
Lieberman was born in Stamford, Connecticut, the son of Marcia (née Manger) and Henry Lieberman. His paternal grandparents immigrated from Poland and his maternal grandparents were from Austria. He received a dual Bachelor of Arts in political science and economics from Yale University in 1964 and was the first member of his family to graduate from college. At Yale he was editor of the Yale Daily News and a member of the Elihu Club. He later attended Yale Law School, receiving his law degree in 1967. After graduation from law school, Lieberman worked as a lawyer for the New Haven-based law firm Wiggin & Dana LLP. A spokesperson told The Hartford Courant in 1994 that Lieberman received an educational deferment from the Vietnam War draft when he was an undergraduate and law student from 1960 to 1967. Upon graduating from law school at age 25, Lieberman qualified for a family deferment because he was already married and had one child, Matt.
Lieberman met his first wife, Betty Haas, at the congressional office of Senator Abraham Ribicoff (D-CT), where they worked as summer student interns. They married in 1965 while Joe Lieberman was in law school. They had two children – Matt and Rebecca. New York Magazine, Lieberman said, "one of the differences we had was in levels of religious observance," adding, "I'm convinced if that was the only difference, we wouldn't have gotten divorced."
Betty, who is also Jewish, later worked as a psychiatric social worker. In 1981, the couple divorced. When asked about the divorce in an interview with
In 1982, he met his second wife, Hadassah Freilich Tucker, while he was running for Attorney General of Connecticut. Hadassah Lieberman is the child of a Holocaust survivor. According to Washington Jewish Week, Lieberman called her for a date because he thought it would be interesting to go out with someone named Hadassah. (Hadassah is the name of the Women's Zionist Organization of America).Since March 2005, Hadassah Lieberman has worked for Hill & Knowlton, a lobbying firm based in New York City, as a senior counselor in its health and pharmaceuticals practice. She has held senior positions at the Hospital of Saint Raphael in New Haven, the American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International (APCO), Pfizer, National Research Council, Hoffmann-La Roche, and Lehman Brothers.
Joe and Hadassah Lieberman have a daughter, Hani. Lieberman also has a stepson from Hadassah's previous marriage, Ethan Tucker. Matt Lieberman graduated from Yale University in 1989, and from Yale Law School in 1994. He is former Head of School of Greenfield Hebrew Academy in Atlanta, GA. Rebecca Lieberman graduated from Barnard College in 1991, and from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1997. She is married to Jacob Wisse. Ethan Tucker, son of Gordon Tucker, graduated from Harvard College in 1997 and received his rabbinic ordination from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. Lieberman is also related to Disney Channel star Raviv Ullman of Phil of the Future.
Lieberman was elected as a "reform Democrat" to the Connecticut Senate in 1970, where he served for 10 years, including the last six as Majority Leader. He suffered his first defeat in Connecticut elections in the Reagan landslide year of 1980, losing the race for the Third District Congressional seat to Republican Lawrence Joseph DeNardis, a state senator from suburban Hamden with whom he had worked closely on bipartisan legislative efforts. In 1981 he wrote an admiring biography of long-time Connecticut and national Democratic leader John Moran Bailey, reviewing also in the book the previous 50 years of Connecticut political history. From 1983 to 1989, he served as Connecticut Attorney General. In the 1986 general election, Lieberman won more votes than any other Democrat on the statewide ticket, including Governor William O'Neill. As Attorney General, Lieberman emphasized consumer protection and environmental enforcement.
In 1988, Lieberman defeated moderate Republican Lowell Weicker to win election to the United States Senate and was re-elected in 1994 and 2000. Like Bill Clinton and Dick Gephardt, Lieberman served as chair of the Democratic Leadership Council. Lieberman was first elected to the United States Senate as a Democrat in the 1988 election, by a margin of 10,000 votes. Six years later, Lieberman made history by winning by the largest landslide ever in a Connecticut Senate race, drawing 67 percent of the vote and beating his opponent by more than 350,000 votes. Since 1989, Lieberman has received more than $31.4 million in campaign donations from specific industries and sectors. His largest donors have represented the securities and investment ($3.7 million), legal ($3.6 million), real estate ($3.1 million) and health professional ($1.1 million) industries.
Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
In the 110th Congress, Lieberman is Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which is responsible for assuring the efficiency and effectiveness of the Federal Government. In addition, he is a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee; Senate Armed Services Committee, where he is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Air Land Forces and sits on the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities; and the Small Business Committee.
Lieberman is one of the Senate's strongest advocates for continued prosecution of the war in Iraq. He is also an outspoken supporter of the U.S.-Israel relationship. On domestic issues, he strongly supports free trade economics while reliably voting for pro-trade union legislation. He has also opposed filibustering Republican judicial appointments. With Lynne Cheney and others, Lieberman co-founded American Council of Trustees and Alumni in 1995. Lieberman is a supporter of abortion rights and of the rights of gays and lesbians to adopt children, to be protected with hatecrime legislation, and to serve openly in the military. Lieberman is one of the Senate's leading opponents of violence in video games and on television. Lieberman describes himself as being "genuinely an Independent," saying "I agree more often than not with Democrats on domestic policy. I agree more often than not with Republicans on foreign and defense policy." Senator Lieberman is also famous for championing, authoring and leading the effort that lead to the repeal of Don't ask don't tell. Senator Lieberman was an integral part in attempting to stop WikiLeaks from publishing further material using US-based corporations in the United States diplomatic cables leak of 2010.
Lieberman is the author of six books: The Power Broker (1966), a biography of the late Democratic Party chairman, John M. Bailey; The Scorpion and the Tarantula (1970), a study of early efforts to control nuclear proliferation; The Legacy (1981), a history of Connecticut politics from 1930 to 1980; Child Support in America (1986), a guidebook on methods to increase the collection of child support from delinquent fathers, In Praise of Public Life (2000), and An Amazing Adventure (2003), reflecting on his 2000 vice presidential run.
August 1st, 2011