Lieberman’s departure opens door for another Independent, David Walker

Jon Ward Contributor
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Add David M. Walker, the former comptroller of the United States under Presidents Clinton and Bush, to the list of likely candidates to run for Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman seat in 2012.

Walker told The Daily Caller on Tuesday night that he has “no plans at the present time to run for office.” But sources close to Walker told TheDC they are bullish about the idea of his running as an Independent for the spot being vacated by Lieberman, who has been an Independent since 2006.

Walker, who moved to Connecticut late last year, is uniquely situated for such a run. Connecticut is one of the few states where an Independent candidate is viable for national office. And Walker, who is involved with the “No Labels” group, brings an unusual mix of conservative policy views and moderate politics that would appeal to the state’s more liberal-leaning voters.

Most importantly, the former Clinton appointee is one of the most articulate voices in the country on the issue of the nation’s fiscal problems and what to do about them.

Since the final days of his time in government, Walker has emerged as a forceful presence in the conversation about the federal government’s budget deficit and the national debt. He has been warning for years that the U.S. is suffering from a “fiscal cancer” that he says is primarily a spending problem. CBS’ “60 Minutes” in 2007 compared him to “an Old Testament prophet.”

As comptroller, Walker toured the country on a “Fiscal Wakeup Tour.” He visited 46 states. He wrote a book.

After he left the GAO, Walker headed the Peterson Foundation, a nonprofit established in 2008 by billionaire Peter G. Peterson to raise awareness about U.S. unfunded obligations in the form of debts and entitlement programs.

His name has even been mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick, but for the past year political operatives have guessed that Walker’s ambitions, which are not small, may be aimed at one of Connecticut’s Senate seats. He recently established a nonprofit group in Connecticut called the Comeback America Initiative.

“A significant majority of the American people are in the middle. At the same time, a significant majority of elected officials are not. Our politics is dominated by people on the far right and the far left,” Walker said by phone Tuesday.

“The far left is in denial that we are going to have to renegotiate the social insurance contract and cut and constrain other spending,” Walker said. “The far right is in denial that we need to engage in comprehensive tax reform and get more revenue.”

Walker said he believes that the problem of deficits is by two to one an issue of spending over inadequate revenues, indicating he would be in favor of some tax increases but would devote more energy to cutting spending and reducing the size of government.

It is not clear, however, how successful Walker would be at raising money or building a political organization, since he does not belong to either party and lacks the wealth of a candidate like Republican Linda McMahon, who is said to be mulling a second run after losing to Democrat Richard Blumenthal last fall.

It’s likely that Walker could turn to Peterson as a patron. Peterson was a Commerce Secretary under President Nixon and in 1985 co-founded what is now one of the world’s largest private equity firms, the Blackstone Group. Reportedly, however, no such conversations between the two men have taken place.

Sources close to McMahon, who spent $47 million of her own fortune on her failed bid last year, said Wednesday they did not think she had made any decisions about a run.

Democrats who are lining up to run for Lieberman’s seat include Connecticut’s Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz and Rep. Chris Murphy. Republicans Rob Simmons, a former congressman, and Kevin O’Connor, a former U.S. attorney, may also run.

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