Sen. John Kerry is revving up his online political machine to raise campaign cash for Democratic Senate nominee Ned Lamont.

Kerry tapped his 3 million-person e-mail list on Wednesday to deliver a fundraising appeal for Lamont, the anti-Iraq war political newcomer who beat three-term Sen. Joe Lieberman last week in Connecticut’s hard-fought Democratic primary contest.

“Ned Lamont has caused a national stir by successfully challenging the Bush position on Iraq that ignores the utter failure of the President’s policy,” Kerry’s message said.

The Kerry e-mail also touted two Democratic Senate incumbents facing tough fights this fall, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Daniel Akaka of Hawaii. Both oppose the war.

“Ned, Dan and Bob have been attacked mercilessly for acting with such conviction and are locked in close must-win races,” said Kerry, D-Mass. “It’s time to reward their courage.”

The Massachusetts Democrat who was the party’s 2004 presidential nominee, as well as many other prominent Democrats, are lining up behind Lamont in a three-way fall race that includes Lieberman, who is running as an independent, and Republican Alan Schlesinger.

Kerry has traveled widely to raise money and help candidates as he considers a possible 2008 White House bid, and he praised Lamont, Akaka and Menendez for taking a hard line against Bush’s Iraq policies in their campaigns for Senate seats.

“Despite the `warnings’ coming from consultants, political pundits and naysayers in Washington, each of these candidates is making the mess in Iraq a central issue in their campaigns,” Kerry said. “If we want to reward their courage, we’ve got to commit ourselves to pulling them through to victory.”

Lamont’s upset victory last week was viewed by many as a referendum on Iraq and Bush’s handling of the war.


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