PORTLAND (AP) – Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s bid for re-election as an independent received a solid endorsement from the chairwoman of the Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she fully supports Lieberman, ranking Democrat on the committee, who’s running as an independent after losing the Democratic primary to political newcomer Ned Lamont.

“I very much hope that Senator Lieberman will be re-elected in the fall. His is an important voice of moderation and experience in the Senate,” she said.

Lamont managed to defeat the Democratic party’s 2000 vice presidential nominee in an election that was viewed by many as a referendum on Iraq and President Bush’s handling of the war. Lieberman’s decision to run as an independent sets up a three-way race between Lieberman, Lamont and Republican Alan Schlesinger.

Interviewed on the WCSH-TV show “207,” Collins said it’s unusual that she would endorse someone from another party, but she said Lieberman has been an important partner on homeland security measures.

She noted that she has worked with Lieberman on all important homeland security issues. “It would be a real loss not only to the people of Connecticut but to the people of this country were he not re-elected,” she said.

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