A Public Service of Santa Fe Community College
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Centrist former Sen. Joseph Lieberman has died at 82

Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., shown here last March.
Tom Williams
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., shown here last March.

Updated March 27, 2024 at 6:56 PM ET

Joseph Lieberman, a centrist former Connecticut senator and onetime Democratic vice presidential nominee, has died, according to a statement from his family. He was 82.

His family said he died Wednesday in New York City due to complications from a fall.

The statement said: "His beloved wife, Hadassah, and members of his family were with him as he passed. Senator Lieberman's love of God, his family, and America endured throughout his life of service in the public interest."

As Al Gore's running mate in 2000, Lieberman became the first Jewish American on the presidential ticket of one of the two major parties. Four years later, Lieberman unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination himself.

Lieberman was a centrist, and often angered Democrats. He lost a 2006 Democratic Senate primary in his home state, but won reelection regardless, running as an independent. In 2008 he supported Republican John McCain's unsuccessful presidential bid.

In 2011, when he announced he wouldn't seek a fifth term as senator, he said: "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."

Lieberman's continued support of the Iraq War antagonized many Democrats. The Democratic candidate he beat in the 2006 Senate race, Ned Lamont, is now Connecticut governor, and he alluded to Lieberman's support of the war in a statement Wednesday: "While the senator and I had our political differences, he was a man of integrity and conviction, so our debate about the Iraq War was serious. I believe we agreed to disagree from a position of principle. When the race was over, we stayed in touch as friends in the best traditions of American democracy. He will be missed."

In recent years, Lieberman served as founding chairman of the centrist group No Labels that is floating a "unity ticket" for the 2024 presidential race — an effort that has drawn criticism as being a potential spoiler for the major parties.

In a statement, No Labels said Lieberman's "unexpected passing is a profound loss for all of us."

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Washington desk