Former Connecticut U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, getting strong consideration from President Donald Trump for the vacant FBI director’s job, has been a familiar figure in Palm Beach County — campaigning for presidential tickets but also playing a role in local elections.
Lieberman was the first Jewish candidate on a major-party presidential ticket when Democrat Al Gore tapped him as his running mate in 2000. Lieberman frequently campaigned in South Florida that year and enjoyed rock-star status in the heavily Jewish retirement communities of Palm Beach and Broward counties.
After forging a close friendship with former Democratic U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, Lieberman campaigned in 2004 for Wexler’s hand-picked candidate for Palm Beach County elections chief, Arthur Anderson. Anderson capitalized on Democratic resentment over the county’s 2000 “butterfly ballot” and defeated incumbent elections chief Theresa LePore.
Lieberman also returned to the Palm Beach County condo circuit that fall on behalf of Democrat John Kerry as Democrats worried about losing some Jewish votes to pro-Israel President George W. Bush.
Lieberman ended up giving some credence to the Democratic fears. Speaking to reporters at the Huntington Lakes retirement community west of Delray Beach, Lieberman said: “We are dealing with a president who’s had a record of strong, consistent support for Israel. You can’t say otherwise. And I think John Kerry to reassure people has to himself be explicit” rather than having surrogates deliver the message.
In 2005, Lieberman raised money for his 2006 Senate re-election in Boca Raton with the help of attorney Ted Deutch — and spilled the beans that Deutch would run for state Senate in 2006. Deutch is now a member of Congress.
Lieberman lost his 2006 Democratic primary in Connecticut, largely over his support for the Iraq war, but retained his Senate seat by running as an independent and winning in the general election.
(The losing Republican in that 2006 Connecticut election, Alan Schlesinger, later moved to Palm Beach County and ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2014.)
Lieberman returned to Palm Beach County during the 2008 presidential campaign — but this time on behalf of a Republican candidate, John McCain. Lieberman stumped for McCain before Florida’s GOP primary and during the general election.
“This is no ordinary time. This is no ordinary election,” Lieberman told about 250 Republican Jewish Coalition members at Woodfield Country Club in Boca Raton before the Florida primary. McCain’s Florida victory was critical in propelling him to the GOP nomination.
He was also back in 2010, appearing at the Palm Beach home of Simon and Norma Fireman for a Rabbinical College of America event.
And last October, the potential Trump appointee campaigned for Democrat Hillary Clinton at Century Village of Boca Raton as part of a South Florida tour aimed at Jewish voters.