Friday, March 29, 2024

César Chávez's family demands RFK Jr. stop using images of the iconic labor leader in his campaign (NBC News)

RFK was one of my boyhood heroes.  In contrast, RFK, Jr. is unworthy of my support for President.  From NBC News:

César Chávez's family demands RFK Jr. stop using images of the iconic labor leader in his campaign

The family said it would “pursue all legal action available” if Kennedy failed to halt his campaign’s use of the United Farm Workers co-founder’s name and imagery.

LOS ANGELES — The family of César Chávez wants independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to stop referencing the late labor and civil rights leader on the campaign trail.

“We respectfully call upon you and your campaign to cease using images of our father to associate yourself with him and suggest your campaign’s goals are compatible,” said the letter signed by Chávez’s eldest son, Fernando Chávez.

“It is our sincere conviction that this association is untrue and deceptive,” he added.

The letter said that the family would “pursue all legal action available” if Kennedy failed to halt his campaign’s use of the United Farm Workers co-founder’s name and imagery.

César Chávez Speaks At Rally
American labor leader and co-founder of the United Farm Workers (formerly known as the National Farm Workers Association) César Chávez speaks at a rally in Coachella, Calif. in 1977.Cathy Murphy / Getty Images file

When reached for comment, Kennedy campaign spokesperson Stefanie Spear said: “RFK Jr.’s father, Robert F. Kennedy, was a good friend of César Chávez and a staunch supporter of farmworkers throughout his life. RFK Jr. has carried on that legacy and has spent more than 40 years fighting against the poisoning of workers and consumers.”

On Friday, ahead of César Chávez Day, the Chávez family formally endorsed President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign. One of César Chávez’s granddaughters, Julie Rodriguez Chavez, serves as Biden’s 2024 campaign manager.

Dolores Huerta, Chavez’s partner in founding the UFW, has also remained a Biden ally.

In 1968, Kennedy’s father, former Attorney General Robert Kennedy Sr., flew to California to join Chavez after he had engaged in a water-only fast for 25 days. Kennedy Sr., at the time running for the Democratic presidential nomination, lent considerable political backing to the farm labor movement’s nonviolent efforts, which included a multiyear strike of the California grape industry. His relationship with Chavez was a key marker for the Democratic Party’s embrace of the farmworkers’ labor rights movement. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968.

Kennedy Jr. is holding an event this weekend in Los Angeles that his campaign said will “celebrate the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez, a good friend of RFK and RFK, Jr.” The invitation for the event includes a photo of Kennedy Sr. and Chávez.

In July 2023, at a conference for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, Kennedy commented on his family’s relationship with Chavez.

“My father’s close, and probably most important political alliance, which was César Chávez, who helped him win the California primary during the last day of his life and remained a very, very close friend of mine for most of my adult life,” Kennedy said.

ANNALS OF DeSANTISTAN: The Florida Legislature doesn’t care how hot outdoor workers get. (Craig Pittman, Florida Phoenix)

RONALD DION DeSANTIS and our extremist Dull Republican legislators are anti-worker and don't try to hide it.  While heat-related injuries are compensable under Florida workers compensation law, our legislature has stood in the way of local regulations to protect t workers from dehydration.  With extremist energumen Social Darwinist Tallahassee Republicans, it's all about the cruelty.  Friends don't let friends vote Republican.  From Florida Phoenix:

The Florida Legislature doesn’t care how hot outdoor workers get

MARCH 14, 2024 7:00 AM

 Outdoor workers in a field in Miami-Dade County. Source: We Count video screen grab.

The Oscars on Sunday honored the year’s best film performances, best direction, best picture and, as a bonus, the best shade thrown. My pick for the latter would be host Jimmy Kimmel’s response to a social media post from a certain deluded Palm Beach club owner: “Isn’t it past your jail time?”

In a similar vein, for the Florida legislative session that ended last Friday, the papers have been full of talk about the big winners and losers. Bears were the clear losers, while trigger-happy cops and corrupt public officials were the obvious winners.

But shade was in short supply and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

A mere two hours before the session adjourned, our fine lawmakers passed a bill that says no local government is allowed to protect outdoor workers from our worsening heat. No limiting their hours. No requiring access to water.

Definitely no shade.

If I were making a Hollywood soundtrack to go with this awful bill, it would start with “Too Hot to Handle” by UFO.

Our legislators do not toil, neither do they spin, in the sweltering outdoors. They filed, debated, and voted for HB 433 in air-conditioned comfort. Heck, they probably never worked up a sweat.

 A farmworker in Immokalee harvests tomatoes. Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

“This shows a callous disregard for human life,” said Jeff Goodell, author of The New York Times climate-change bestseller The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet. “Outdoor workers are far more vulnerable to extreme heat.”

Bear (ha ha!) in mind that these lawmakers are the same sensitive souls who also voted to loosen the laws on child labor although lawmakers agreed to a scaled-back version. Get those teenagers out there on the construction site! Make ’em perspire!

Picture a bunch of sunburned high school kids laboring outdoors for hours in the heat before they go start their homework. This is not likely to improve their awful ACT scores. Now we’ll play Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher,” although these students are just hot, period.

It was a member of an organization called Florida Student Power who broke down crying during a House Commerce Committee hearing on the bill last month.

“To me this bill is not about numbers, it’s about millions of Floridians and it is very personal,” said Laura Munoz, who testified that her father died in a workplace accident related to years of poor heat protections. “How much profit was worth his life, and how much profits are worth their lives? Because I don’t think there’s money enough to ever be worth it.”

Our legislators’ insistence on deleting references to climate change from state law now seems more sinister than silly. It’s like they’re removing clues from a crime scene to hide what they’re doing to working Floridians.

Sweatin’ to the oldies

For this next part, our soundtrack will switch to Martha and the Vandellas’ “Heat Wave.” We’re sweatin’ to the oldies!

Our spring weather right now is pleasant. But remember last summer? We suffered a heat wave the likes of which the world had never seen before. July 4 was the hottest day in human history.

It didn’t end with the summer.

“In Florida, 2023 was the hottest year on record for many locations, based on annual average mean temperatures,” the Florida Climate Center reported in December. “This includes Pensacola, Daytona Beach, Orlando, Tampa, Lakeland, Venice, Fort Myers, Miami, and Key West, all with a 60-year instrumental record or longer. Many other locations had one of their top five hottest years on record.”

These hot days and nights are increasing, too. According to the Miami-Dade County website, “Since 1970, Miami-Dade County has had an average increase of days above 90°F from 84 to now 133 days per year, which will continue to rise.”

 Dangerous heat levels are becoming routine in Florida as state leaders look the other way and do little to combat global warming. (Getty Images)

Working in all that heat is bad for the human body. A University of Florida study released three years ago found that between 2010 and 2020, there were 215 heat-related deaths in Florida.

Two years ago, I interviewed a Florida State University professor named Christopher Uejio, who studies the health impacts of climate change.

“Extreme heat is really insidious,” he told me. “It affects a wide range of bodily functions. It makes your heart pump harder. With your respiratory system, it makes breathing harder. And when you’re breathing in hot air, that makes your respiratory system work harder, too.”

As Grist pointed out this week, Florida’s lawmakers are well aware of the damage heat can do to a body. Four years ago, faced with a grieving mom talking about her child’s death from heat stroke after football practice, they passed a law to protect student-athletes from experiencing it.

But adults? As Willy Wonka put it so well: “You get nothing! You lose! Good day to you, sir!”

“It is an abomination that hundreds of thousands of workers in Florida continue to risk their lives by working in dangerous heat without relief. And the fact that lawmakers will not act to protect those workers’ lives is simply unconscionable,” said Gerardo Reyes Chavez of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which has negotiated with employers to create the strongest heat protections in America.

Some like it hot

Now our soundtrack will play “I’m on Fire” by Bruce Springsteen.

While you hum along with The Boss, consider how many people were working outdoors in last year’s withering heat.

There were people building houses and stores, picking up garbage, fixing phone lines, working on boats, staffing the theme park rides, renting out cabanas at the beach, cleaning pools, taking your order at Chick-fil-a and picking vegetables. One estimate I read said 2 million people in Florida work outdoors, but that number seems low to me.

Unlike our fine legislators, these folks can’t do their jobs in air conditioned comfort. They have to do it while dealing with solar power shining down on their bodies.

 Jeff Goodell, author of “The Heat Will Kill You First,” via his website

Goodell contends that the disregard our constantly cooled politicians feel for these folks is rooted in one simple fact: “They’re brown people.”

For instance, the Florida Health Department reports that “150,000 to 200,000 migrant and seasonal farm workers and their families annually travel and work in Florida.”

Of course, that number maaaay have declined after the Legislature passed that rabidly anti-immigrant law last year — you know, the one that three lawmakers swore up and down was just political theater.

I disagree with him on this. I don’t think the politicians’ disdain is race-based. I think it’s all about class. These workers aren’t the wealthy folks that make campaign contributions. That means the politicos don’t see them as worth protecting. Our lawmakers seem far more interested in protecting the corporations that employ them.

When the bill came up in one House committee, the lobbyists who’d lined up to support it included well-dressed mouthpieces from the Association of Builders and Contractors, the Florida Farm Bureau, the Florida Home Builders Association, the National Utilities Contractors Association, and the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association.

Here’s where our soundtrack will play The Power Station’s Eighties hit “Some Like It Hot.” Remember that one? “Let’s turn up the heat till we fry!”

Safety last

In case you’re wondering why anyone would want workers to suffer in all that heat, let me tell you about who filed the bill.

 Republican State Rep. Tiffany Esposito, representing part of Lee County, via Florida House

The House sponsor of HB 433, Rep. Tiffany Esposito, R-Safety Last, heads a Lee County version of the Chamber of Commerce called Southwest Florida Inc. She’s made it clear that she’s pro-business and anti-regulation.

You may recall she was pushing a bill to cut the time that local governments have to review building permits, which also passed both the House and Senate.

She’s received hefty campaign contributions from the Florida Home Builders Political Action Committee and a whole bunch of builders and developers, including the PAC of Spring Hill builder Blaise Ingoglia, who’s also a state senator.

During one committee hearing, she mentioned that her own husband is in the construction business, too.

“Not only do they do daily safety talks, but once a month they take an entire day … where they are not making any progress on the job and do a safety briefing,” she said proudly.

But that’s like saying we don’t need speed limits on the interstate because her hubby is such a safe driver. She never explained why she wanted to block counties and cities from policing companies that are less focused on worker safety.

Nor did she explain why she filed this bill just in time to thwart the one county that was about to do something about the heat issue.

 We Count protest march for better working conditions in Miami-Dade

After last year’s heat wave, advocates from a group called We Count! , which works for better living and working conditions for immigrants, swung into action. They prodded the Miami-Dade County Commission to consider passing Florida’s first ordinance that would require heat protections for outdoor workers.

As first proposed, Miami-Dade would require construction and agriculture companies with five or more employees to guarantee workers access to water and give them 10-minute breaks in the shade every two hours on days when the heat index hits 90 degrees.

Employers would also train workers to recognize the signs of heat illness, administer first aid, and call for help in an emergency.

But then industry groups went to work on the commissioners and got these common-sense rules (ahem!) watered down (pause here for readers’ eyes to stop rolling). Then they persuaded the commissioners to postpone the vote. The whole thing was at last headed for a showdown this month.

But before that could happen, Esposito’s bill, filed two days after the ordinance was first introduced, killed it dead. Some lawmakers admitted they had a problem with that.

“We’re saying we don’t mind people dying,” said a clearly horrified Rep. Dotie Joseph, D-North Miami. No one told her she was wrong.

Too hot, baby

Next up on our soundtrack, it’s Kool and the Gang with “Too Hot.” Sing along! “Got to run for shelter, run for shaaaade…”

Professional hot air generators Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck used to rant about how evil lib’ruls were turning America into a “nanny state.” But the nannies never seemed to do much about the heat.

“Currently, there are no specific federal or state laws that provide heat exposure protections for outdoor workers,” said the House staff’s bill analysis on HB 433.

Year after year, some Florida lawmakers have proposed bills that would change that. The bills would have required everyone who employs outdoor workers to educate them about heat illness as well as provide workers with adequate drinking water, access to shade, and 10-minute recovery breaks in extreme heat.

Not one of those bills has ever made it out of committee.

As for the feds, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced in 2021 that it would draw up some heat-related regulations, but so far it hasn’t. All it’s posted are recommendations, which carry as much weight as the Pirate’s Code in “Pirates of the Caribbean”: “More what you’d call guidelines than actual rules.”

Goodell called OSHA’s foot-dragging “outrageous.” Coming up with rules for water and shade breaks shouldn’t be that hard, he said.

“You and I could probably work out a set in about 20 minutes,” he said, grossly overestimating my competence. “But industry has been lobbying against it, and that’s what’s causing the delay.”

Business lobbyists insisted to the Legislature that OSHA does regulate heat exposure. What they didn’t say is that OSHA penalizes employers only after something has gone horribly wrong.

For instance, in 2021, OSHA cited Valley Produce Harvesting and Hauling Company in Clewiston for exposing 49 sugar cane harvesting employees to “excessive heat, elevated temperature working conditions, direct sun radiation, and thermal stress.” One of the workers died from heat stroke.

Valley Produce was hit with a fine of $81,919. That did not, of course, bring the man back to life.

climate heat air
 Excessive heat fueled by climate change contributes to drought, wildfires, crop failures, and impaired human health. Getty Images

The Miami Herald reported that that was the company’s second fine for ignoring the dangers of heat. The first was just a year before. The company was fined $9,446 for letting an employee planting sugar cane in Belle Glade get so sick from the heat that he wound up in the hospital.

That sure seems like a failure on OSHA’s part. But during debate on the Senate version of the Florida bill, the sponsor, Sen. Jay Trumbull, R-Don’t Care, argued that, in the interest of uniform enforcement, OSHA should be the one to set the “overarching standard for the state.”

This marks quite a turnaround from all the times that Florida lawmakers have sneered at the feds’ other health-related departments, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

I find it especially ironic because Trunbull’s family owns Culligan water franchises for the Florida Panhandle and South Alabama. He’s supplying water to office workers, but the heck with those poor folks who work outside. You get nothing!

The heat is on

Our soundtrack has one last number: Glenn Frey’s “The Heat Is On.”

This climate change problem is one that won’t go away, no matter how much our legislators snip-snip-snip at those words in state law. Our world just keeps getting warmer. The Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting this summer in Florida will bring above-normal temperatures and below-normal rainfall.

Unless Gov. Ron “I Love Fossil Fuels More Than I Love Chocolate Pudding” DeSantis suddenly sprouts a spine, he won’t veto this bad bill. Once he signs it into law, all these outdoor workers who want to stay employed will have to risk their lives without any rules protecting them.

I am not sure what it would take to change our lawmakers’ minds. But I have a suggestion for any working people who come into contact with them this summer.

Mess with their home air conditioning. Turn their office thermostat up and then break it. Fix their car’s A/C so it’s on the fritz.

If they call you for a repair appointment, explain that you’re booked solid for a month. No matter how much they plead, tell them they’ll just have to cope with it a while. Assure them they’ll live.

Let them see what it’s like to perspire heavily and wish for a drink of water and a bit of shade. Maybe that will change their tune.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. AP and Getty images may not be republished. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of any other photos and graphics.

Craig Pittman

Craig Pittman is a native Floridian. In 30 years at the Tampa Bay Times, he won numerous state and national awards for his environmental reporting. He is the author of six books. In 2020 the Florida Heritage Book Festival named him a Florida Literary Legend. Craig is co-host of the "Welcome to Florida" podcast. He lives in St. Petersburg with his wife and children.

Florida Phoenix is part of States Newsroom, the nation’s largest state-focused nonprofit news organization.



UPDATE, On March 28, 2024: The County Administrator and staff promptly forwarded the letter of commitment, but have not finalized the project list.  I have requested all drafts of the list.

 On Wednesday, March 27, 2024 at 11:04:40 AM EDT, Ed Slavin <> wrote:

Dear Ms. Andrews, et al. al:
Would you please be so kind as to send me the Letter of Commitment, the accompanying list of County projects, and the Grants and Legislative Affairs Dept. review of the County's Climate Pollution Reduction Grant, to be funded pursuant to the Inflation Reduction Act?
Please place these documents on our SJC website, e.g, in association with draft resolution set forth as Consent Agenda Item 20 on the April 2, 2024 agenda, along with itemized estimated project costs for each project.
Thank you.

Joseph Lieberman, R.I.P., senator and vice-presidential nominee, dies at 82. (WaPo)

Good man, who spoke his mind.  Sen. Lieberman was way wrong on the public option on Obamacare, but was heart and soul a Democrat, who believed in democracy.  As JFK said at American University in 1963, "we must make the world safe for diversity."  Our Nation was founded by liberals, and they said so, as George Washington illustrated with his 1797 letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Rhode Island. Sadly, unAmerican organized Jew-haters organized hatred that helped deny the Gore-Lieberman ticket the 2000 Presidential election.  Don't take my word for it.  My late friend, J.D. Lee, Tennessee trial lawyer -- who filed the first-ever lung cancer tort case against tobacco companies in the 1950s -- came to this ineluctable conclusion in 2000, and said so.  As a lifelong participant in Tennessee politics and close friend and mentee of Senator Estes Kefauver, 1956 Democratic vice presidential nominee, J.D. Lee knew what he was talking about.  Sadly, Al Gore was unable to carry his own home state, in part due to hateful propaganda from Jew-haters. (As my late friend Miriam  explained to me, the term "anti-Semitism" does not capture the barbaric tribe; as my Irish Catholic mom explained to me during a 1967 Ambassador Abba Eban speech st the UN, the term "anti-Semitism" is imprecise, as both Arabs and Israelis are Semites.(

From The Washington Post:

Joseph Lieberman, senator and vice-presidential nominee, dies at 82

As Al Gore’s Democratic running mate in 2000, he was the first Jewish candidate on the national ticket of a major party

March 27, 2024 at 5:32 p.m. EDT
Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, left, and his running mate, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, during a 2000 campaign stop in Carthage, Tenn. (Luke Frazza/AFP/Getty Images)
17 min

Joseph I. Lieberman, the doggedly independent four-term U.S. senator from Connecticut who was the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2000, becoming the first Jewish candidate on the national ticket of a major party, died March 27 in New York City. He was 82.

The cause was complications from a fall, his family said in a statement. He fell at his home in the Bronx and was pronounced dead at a hospital in Manhattan.

Mr. Lieberman viewed himself as a centrist Democrat, solidly in his party’s mainstream with his support of abortion rights, environmental protections, gay rights and gun control. But he was also unafraid to stray from Democratic orthodoxy, most notably in his consistently hawkish stands on foreign policy.

His full-throated support of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the increasingly unpopular war that followed doomed Mr. Lieberman’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and led to his rejection by Connecticut Democrats when he sought his fourth Senate term in 2006. He kept his seat by running that November as an independent candidate and attracting substantial support from Republican and unaffiliated voters.

I have not always fit comfortably into conventional political boxes,” Mr. Lieberman said near the end of his Senate career, an understatement that tiptoed around the anger his maverick ways stoked among many liberals.

Joseph Lieberman, a longtime senator from Connecticut and Al Gore’s Democratic running mate in 2000, died March 27 in New York City. He was 82. (Video: Julie Yoon/The Washington Post)

His transition from Al Gore’s running mate in 2000 on the Democratic ticket to high-profile cheerleader for Republican presidential candidate John McCain eight years later was a turnaround unmatched in recent American politics.

In a prime-time speech at the 2008 Republican convention, Mr. Lieberman hailed McCain, a senator from Arizona and former Vietnam War POW, for his courage and accomplishment. He dismissed Barack Obama, the one-term senator from Illinois and Democratic nominee, as “a gifted and eloquent young man” who lacked the experience needed in the White House.

On international trips to Iraq and other hot spots, Mr. Lieberman and McCain had become close friends as well as allies in support of the Iraq War — including President George W. Bush’s decision in 2007 to shore up the faltering U.S. military effort with the “surge” of thousands of additional troops.

McCain seriously considered making Mr. Lieberman his running mate, but his advisers warned that Mr. Lieberman’s Democratic history and voting record, particularly his stand in favor of abortion rights, would anger convention delegates and split the party. McCain instead chose the right-wing populist governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, a decision he later said he regretted.

Most observers, including Mr. Lieberman, doubted that his presence on the ticket would have saved McCain from defeat by Obama, who became the first Black president. Mr. Lieberman remarked that had he joined McCain on the ballot, he would have had the distinction not only of running for vice president on both party tickets but also of losing twice. “God saved me from that — or the Republican delegates saved me from that,” he told the Hartford Courant.

Mr. Lieberman continued to draw Democrats’ ire after leaving the Senate in 2012, most especially with his efforts to mount a third-party presidential ticket in the 2024 election. As a co-chair of the centrist group No Labels, he helped lead the organization’s campaign to field an alternative to the major-party candidates — a move that some Democrats feared would take votes from President Biden and help Donald Trump recapture the White House.

Mr. Lieberman in Beijing in 2023. (Gilles Sabrié for The Washington Post)

Drawn to politics

Joseph Isadore Lieberman was born in Stamford, Conn., on Feb. 24, 1942, the oldest of three children in an Orthodox Jewish family. His father, a former bakery-truck driver, eventually saved enough to buy a liquor store. His parents impressed upon him the value of education and instilled in him an ambition to succeed. He was senior class president and senior prom king of his high school.

He entered Yale University in 1960 as the first member of his family to go to college, and he said he was inspired to enter public service by President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, with its challenge to “ask what you can do for your country.”

While in college, he worked part time on the successful 1962 U.S. Senate campaign of Abraham Ribicoff, a former Democratic congressman and governor, and the next year was a summer intern in Ribicoff’s Washington office. Ribicoff, the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland, became a role model and taught him, Mr. Lieberman wrote, the value of compromise over unproductive rigidity.

Mr. Lieberman furthered his political education by writing his senior thesis on John M. Bailey, a backroom pol who had long dominated Connecticut’s Democratic Party and served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee for much of the 1960s. The thesis resulted in a Bailey biography, “The Power Broker” (1966) — the first of nine books Mr. Lieberman wrote or co-wrote. In addition to lessons-learned memoirs, the subjects ranged from nuclear proliferation to the benefits of resting on the Sabbath.

After graduating from Yale in 1964 and then Yale Law School in 1967, he joined a New Haven firm, became active in local political and community work, and looked for an opportunity to run for office. Itcame in 1970 when he upset the incumbent state senator from largely Democratic New Haven in the party primary. Among his doorbell-ringing volunteers was Bill Clinton, then a Yale Law student.

Mr. Lieberman at a 1978 parade in Hartford, Conn., when he was serving as majority leader of the state Senate. (Bob Child/AP)

Mr. Lieberman served 10 years in the state Senate, the last six as majority leader. His ambition was to be governor, but, in 1980, seeing no immediate path to higher state office, he gave up his Senate seat to run for the open U.S. House seat for the New Haven area.

With the district’s Democratic advantage and strong polling numbers, his victory seemed assured. But helped by Ronald Reagan’s strong showing in the presidential race, the Republican won. The loss was painfully embarrassing for a politician unused to defeat. Not long afterward, in 1981, he and his first wife, Elizabeth “Betty” Haas, divorced.

In Mr. Lieberman’s telling, he and his wife — the parents of two children, Matt and Rebecca — drifted apart as their personalities and careers developed. The demands of his political life were one factor, he wrote in his 2000 memoir, “In Praise of Public Life.” Another was “that I had become much more religiously observant.”

A year after the divorce, a friend introduced him to Hadassah Freilich Tucker, a Prague-born daughter of Holocaust survivors whose father was a rabbi. Her family — the Freilichs — immigrated to the United States in 1949 after the Communists took over Czechoslovakia. When Mr. Lieberman met her, she was the divorced mother of a 6-year-old son, Ethan, and an executive at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in New York City. It was, Mr. Lieberman wrote, “chemistry at first conversation.”

They married in 1983, and she was her husband’s political partner and trusted adviser through the rest of his career. In addition to his wife, survivors include their daughter, Hana Lowenstein; two children from his first marriage, Matt Lieberman and Rebecca Lieberman; a stepson, Ethan Tucker; two sisters; and 13 grandchildren.

Mr. Lieberman at a news conference in Hartford, Conn., in 1984, when he was serving as state attorney general. (Bob Child/AP)

In 1982, ready for another try, Mr. Lieberman ran for what had been the low-profile office of state attorney general. Promising to be the “people’s lawyer,” he swept to victory — along with the other Democratic candidates for statewide state offices — and built an activist record by going after polluters, consumer rip-offs and child-support delinquents.

He easily won reelection four years later, and then, urged on by party leaders, he took on U.S. Sen. Lowell P. Weicker Jr., a three-term liberal Republican generally thought to be unbeatable. With TV attack ads and support from Republicans unhappy with Weicker — including an endorsement from prominent conservative intellectual William F. Buckley Jr. — Mr. Lieberman squeaked to victory in 1988.

In Washington, Mr. Lieberman became known as a serious-minded legislator adept at working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle. One of his earliest achievements was having a leadership role in the bipartisan amendment in 1990 of the Clean Air Act, beefing up federal regulation of pollutants.

He was also proud of bipartisan government changes he helped enact after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, most prominently the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the restructuring of the intelligence community.

Mr. Lieberman generally voted with his party, but he sided with Republicans on cutting the capital gains tax, funding vouchers that parents could use to send their children to private schools, and placing new restrictions on consumer lawsuits against corporations, the latter of special interest to Connecticut’s large insurance companies.

His willingness to buck his party put him at odds with teachers, trial lawyers and other powerful Democratic constituencies. But it gave him influence within the increasingly polarized Senate, former Senate historian Donald Ritchie said in an interview for this obituary. As the political middle shrank, his swing vote took on added value.

In the run-up to the Iraq War, a majority of Senate Democrats voted to authorize Bush to take military action against Saddam Hussein’s regime. But unlike many of those colleagues, Mr. Lieberman continued to support the 2003 invasion after Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction failed to materialize and U.S.-led occupation forces were bogged down by civil war and anti-coalition insurgency.

“This is a battle in the war on terrorism. Failure and defeat is not an option,” he said in September 2003. When Senate Democrats voted unanimously in April 2007 to begin withdrawing U.S. troops by the following October, he joined Republicans in opposition.

His stand was in keeping with a long record of support for intervention abroad. He co-sponsored the resolution authorizing the use of troops to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991 and pressed the Clinton administration to take forceful action against Serbian aggression in the Balkans. He was one of Israel’s most fervent backers on Capitol Hill. And, in line with the interests of Connecticut’s large defense industry, he supported robust spending on weaponry.

“Like it or not, we live in an imperfect world, so, like it or not, you’ve got to stand up and fight,” he told the New York Times in 1991. “If I can be simplistic about it: If good people stand by while bad things are being done, evil will triumph.”

Mr. Lieberman and his wife, Hadassah, arrive in Nashville on the presidential campaign trail in 2000. (Luke Frazza/AFP/Getty Images)

Emphasis on morality

In private life, Mr. Lieberman was a strict observer of Orthodox Jewish rules. He kept a kosher diet, prayed daily and declined to campaign on the Sabbath. He brought moral certitude to his public life as well, denouncing gratuitous sex and violence in films, television shows and pop music.

He helped enact a 1996 law requiring new TV sets to have a device that enabled parents to block objectionable programs, and he teamed up with conservative commentator William J. Bennett to hand out “Silver Sewer Awards” for media content deemed “cultural pollution.” Along with headlines, Mr. Lieberman garnered loathing from the entertainment industry. “He’s a self-righteous religious fanatic,” record company executive Howie Klein said in 2000, as quoted on Television critic James Poniewozik, then with Time magazine, dubbed him “Schoolmarm Joe.”

Mr. Lieberman cemented his reputation for diligent morality — or moralizing, as his detractors saw it — in 1998 when he publicly rebuked President Clinton, a personal friend and fellow Democrat, for his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. He was the first prominent Democratic lawmaker to do so.

“Such behavior is not just inappropriate. It is immoral,” he said in a Senate speech that drew praise from colleagues in both parties. “And it is harmful, for it sends a message of what is acceptable behavior to the larger American family — particularly to our children — which is as influential as the negative messages communicated by the entertainment culture.” (In 1999, Mr. Lieberman joined all other Democratic senators in voting against removing Clinton from office.)

For Gore, Clinton’s vice president, the Lewinsky speech and, more broadly, Mr. Lieberman’s rectitude made him a particularly attractive running mate at a time when Gore was anxious to distance himself from Clinton’s tawdry personal conduct.

At the campaign’s outset, there was speculation that antisemitism, latent or overt, might hurt the Gore-Lieberman ticket. Mr. Lieberman embraced his faith in public, often quoting from the Hebrew Bible and giving thanks to God. The Anti-Defamation League asked him to reduce his religious references during the 2000 race to avoid alienating the public.

One of Mr. Lieberman’s enduring themes was that religion in general, not just the Jewish faith, deserved a more prominent place in public life. Years later, Mr. Lieberman told CNN that he encountered no antisemitism on the campaign trail. And the consensus among pundits was that Mr. Lieberman’s religion played no role in Gore’s loss, in keeping with political history that suggests a party’s vice-presidential choice seldom makes a difference in the voting.

Gore and Mr. Lieberman lost the election to Bush and his running mate, Dick Cheney, following a 5-to-4 Supreme Court ruling that awarded Florida’s disputed 25 electoral votes to the GOP ticket. But Mr. Lieberman emerged with national name recognition and, once Gore declined to run again, front-runner status in early polling for the party’s 2004 presidential nomination.

Mr. Lieberman, left, with Gore in November 2000, talking to reporters while awaiting the result of a recount in Florida. (Luke Frazza/AFP/Getty Images)

At odds with his party

Considered the most moderate of the party’s nine 2004 hopefuls, Mr. Lieberman contended that his record on the environment and social issues combined with his strong stand on defense made him the Democrat best positioned to attract independents and defeat Bush.

What pundits described as a dearth of cash and charisma worked against him. Gore’s endorsement of another candidate, former Vermont governor Howard Dean, was a further blow. But the biggest obstacle to Mr. Lieberman’s nomination was the anger among Democrats over his support of the Iraq War.

He placed fifth in the New Hampshire primary, and the following Tuesday, the best he could do in seven state nominating contests was a distant second in Delaware. It was an unmistakable repudiation, and Mr. Lieberman dropped out that night. (Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts eventually won the nomination and lost the general election to incumbent Bush.)

Mr. Lieberman’s defeat two years later in the Democratic Senate primary in Connecticut was an even more painful measure of his party standing. His challenger, wealthy businessman (and later governor) Ned Lamont, focused on Mr. Lieberman’s support of Bush’s war policy and made heavy use of a photo of the president embracing Lieberman at the 2005 State of the Union speech.

Mr. Lieberman, who had breezed to reelection twice before, dismissed the primary’s outcome as unrepresentative of the state’s full electorate and, running as an independent in the general election, got almost 50 percent of the vote, to Lamont’s 40 percent and 10 percent for the little-known GOP nominee. Mr. Lieberman later disclosed that a top Bush aide steered GOP money to his campaign.

Returning to the Senate as a self-described “independent Democrat,” Mr. Lieberman continued to caucus with the Democrats. But he viewed his November victory as vindication of his independent record and felt, as he put it, “profoundly liberated.”

For some Democrats, Mr. Lieberman’s support of McCain two years later went beyond independence to apostasy. After the election, there was a move to strip him of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. But party leaders were anxious to keep him from bolting to the Republicans.

After Obama and Democratic Senate leader Harry M. Reid of Nevada urged forgiveness, Senate Democrats voted 42 to 13 to let Mr. Lieberman keep the chairmanship. His only penalty was the loss of his seat on the Environment and Public Works Committee. He accepted the arrangement, telling reporters that he regretted some of his campaign statements “and now it’s time to move on.”

Mr. Lieberman, left, with fellow senators Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) at a 2009 news conference. (Richard A. Lipski/The Washington Post)

In 2009, he helped the new Obama administration get its first big win: a $787 billion package to stimulate the recession-racked economy. The next year, he was a leader in the successful fight — against GOP opposition led by McCain — to repeal the Clinton-era “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy prohibiting gay people from serving openly in the military.

He was also influential in shaping Obama’s health-care initiative, although in a way that once again infuriated some Democrats. Attentive to Connecticut’s insurance industry, Mr. Lieberman threatened to filibuster the bill if it included a government-run health insurance option. With the support of every Senate Democrat needed to overcome solid GOP opposition, the administration dropped the public option, and Mr. Lieberman voted in 2009 for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Mr. Lieberman announced in early 2011 that he would not seek reelection the next year. By way of explanation, he invoked Ecclesiastes. It was, he said, “time for another season and another purpose under heaven.” He dismissed poor political prospects as a factor. He conceded that he faced a difficult campaign but added, “So what else is new?”

After leaving the Senate, Mr. Lieberman became senior counsel at the Manhattan-based law firm Kasowitz, Benson, Torres and joined company boards. He continued to take public positions on political issues. He led a group opposed to the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration. He endorsed President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. He promoted Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos, a charter school and voucher advocate, to be education secretary.

Nevertheless, Mr. Lieberman endorsed the Democratic presidential nominees in 2016 and 2020 — Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, respectively — and told CNN in 2021 that Trump was “really hurting our constitutional democracy” by continuing to claim the 2020 election had been stolen.

He was most prominent as a leader of No Labels, an organization founded to encourage bipartisanship, and he missed no opportunity to reiterate the plea he made in his 2012 farewell Senate speech. “The greatest obstacle I see standing between us and the brighter American future we all want is right here in Washington,” he told colleagues. “It is the partisan polarization of our politics which prevents us from making the principled compromises on which progress in a democracy depends.”


A previous version of the caption with the fourth photo incorrectly stated the parade was in New Haven. It was in Hartford. The caption has been corrected.