Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye said Tuesday he is supporting Ned Lamont over Sen. Joe Lieberman because of the Connecticut lawmaker’s contention that the Democratic Party doesn’t stand for mainstream America.

Inouye, who campaigned in Connecticut for Lieberman prior to the Aug. 8 primary, issued a statement endorsing Lamont and citing Lieberman’s recent criticism of the party. Lamont upset Lieberman in the Democratic primary and the three-term senator is running as an independent in hopes of holding his seat.

“After the primary, Senator Inouye was most disappointed and unhappy when Senator Lieberman remarked that the Democratic Party no longer represented the mainstream of America, and that the Democratic Party had lost its values,” the eight-term Hawaii senator said in the statement.

Inouye is the latest prominent Democrat to rally behind Lamont, a political newcomer whose anti-war views helped him topple Lieberman, a staunch supporter of the war.

“Senator Inouye tried his best to help ensure a victory by Senate Lieberman in Connecticut’s Democratic primary,” the statement said, referring to the earlier campaign appearance. “Unfortunately, that did not happen.”

The Lieberman campaign had no immediate comment.

Party officials such as Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who backed Lieberman in the primary, have endorsed Lamont in the three-way race. Republican Alan Schlesinger also is seeking the Senate seat.

The Connecticut race has been cast by many as a referendum on President Bush’s Iraq war policies. Lieberman has been a strong supporter of the Iraq war, winning praise and endorsements from Republicans.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press