Professor Who Took on Lieberman Dies at 60

John Orman was a well-known Fairfield University professor but made a national name for himself by seizing control of U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman’s political party. He has died at the age of 60.

Orman was more that a political science professor. He provided students with valuable lessons by taking on political challenges no one else would dare.

In 1984, he ran as U.S. Rep. from the Fourth Congressional District against the popular incumbent Republican Stewart McKinney when no one else would take the challenge.

After losing the election, Orman invited the Congressman to his classroom to meet his students, according to Fairfield University.

But his criticism of and choice to challenge Lieberman propelled him further into the spotlight. It started when the senator was simultaneously running for Senate and the Presidency. 

Orman "felt the Democratic Party was turning into a 'little d' here in Connecticut, and that was threatened in 2000 when Lieberman was running for two offices simultaneously -- Senate and vice president -- and that that was a tremendous disservice to the people of Connecticut," Donald Greenberg, a longtime friend and colleague of Orman's, told the Stamford Advocate. "He felt it was wrong, and he wanted to call attention to it."

Orman took on Lieberman by running for Senate briefly before throwing his support to Ned Lamont.

Lieberman lost that 2006 Democratic primary to Ned Lamont, but went on to create the Connecticut for Lieberman Party, launching his successful re-election campaign as an independent.

That is when Orman took Lieberman on again because neither the senator nor anyone else had joined the party, the Advocate reports.

After Lieberman won, Orman switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Connecticut for Lieberman, then voted himself chairman. Lieberman's creation of the party was only a ploy to secure a better position on the ballot, Orman said.

"In order for the CFL to keep the great ballot spot that Joe Lieberman earned for us, our party had to organize and submit rules to the Secretary of the State of Connecticut," Orman said in a 2006 news release. "Senator Lieberman did not do this when he ran, so there was work to be done like [establishing] a platform and rules."

When he was not taking on elected officials, Orman was writing books about politics. Among them is "Celebrity Politics," which he wrote with Brown University Professor Darrell West. It was published in 2003 and gained national attention. The book is about how Americans have increasingly treated politicians like celebrities, who attract the same kind of tabloid coverage.

"The preoccupation with the private lives of public officials does nothing to advance policy issues and is a distraction from the very real problems facing America," Orman wrote.

The university says in a statement that Orman's untimely death Sunday night has left the campus in mourning. Orman, of Trumbull, was chairman of the Jesuit university's Department of Politics.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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