Monday, January 24, 2005

Bysiewicz: Why We Should Care

I am tempted to dismiss Susan Bysiewicz from the governor's race. In an article today in the Middletown Press, she laid out what will be the themes of her campaign: Jobs, education, fiscal sanity and ethics.

On jobs:

"Eighty percent of the new jobs in the state are created by companies that have 100 or fewer employees," according to Bysiewicz. "We used to be a state where there were major employers: UTC, Cigna, Aetna. Those companies have been consistently downsizing and not creating opportunity."

Locally she points to Middlefield’s Zygo Corporation. In 1979 the company was started by three people and now the company employees more than 300 and is still growing.

"We need to encourage businesses like them, because these business create high value-added, high quality jobs"
The past administration, according to Bysiewicz, never cared much about small businesses and used the more classical approach of giving big tax breaks and grants to large companies in the hope that they may bring economic growth and jobs.

"I question whether these companies have created the jobs they promised they would," said Bysiewicz.

This issue may have a little traction, but as the economy improves it will cease to be a major selling point. Look for her to trot this one out in the more economically depressed areas of the state, like the northwest and the old mill towns, but not so much in Fairfield County.

On education:

"We need to have kids who are literate, who know civics and who can participate in their community," said Bysiewicz. "Not just in terms of voting, but who can be active participants in our society."

She has a lot of plans, including a statewide early childhood development initiative, but little real way to pay for them. Expect her to gloss over that with "mom logic" like this:

Politicians will say that there is not enough money to extensively support programs like this through the state. But Bysiewicz says, if the state can spend 10 percent of it’s $10 billion budget on corrections including $40,000 per inmate per year, it certainly can find a way to spend a fraction of that on its children’s futures.

"Something is wrong with that picture when we somehow can’t find the resources to spend $4,000 or $5,000 on preschool education," said Bysiewicz.

Oh, brilliant. And let's hold a bake sale to buy a bomber while we're at it. I fully expect her to haul out her daughter at campaign rallies when talking about education.

Fiscal sanity:

"People have the sense that nobody is watching out for their tax dollars and I think we need someone in the governor’s office that is going to be fiscally responsible and show people that we are going to be as frugal with the state money as they are with their own household budgets," said Bysiewicz.

Unfortunately for Bysiewicz, this is a perfect description of Jodi Rell. This may disappear, unless Rell's image as tightwad-in-chief drastically changes between now and 2006.


Just recently, she proposed an ethics plan for towns that would require all of them to establish local ethics commissions. Currently there are only 50 towns in the state that maintain them.
She also recently urged the legislature to ban registered lobbyists from serving on state boards, commissions and quasi-public agencies.

Required ethics boards is kind of a drag on smaller towns. At this rate, every citizen in Union is going to be on two town boards. The lobbyist ban sounds like one of those things that has already been mostly accomplished, but I'll get back to you.

There is nothing particularly interesting or novel about any of this. It's a standard moderate to liberal Democratic platform, and doesn't distunguish her from Sullivan, DeStefano and the others in any way.

So why pay attention? For one thing, she has $500,000 already, and we should expect her to raise an awful lot more over the coming year. Also, she's a scrapper, despite her unassuming looks and personality. She won two primaries, one for state rep in 1992 and the other for secretary of the state in 1998, against the party-endorsed candidate. If anyone has ever followed the politics of the Democratic party in this state, they will know it is nearly impossible to primary the party-backed candidate and win. She's tougher than she looks, and, despite the lack of an interesting platform, I expect her to do reasonably well in the primaries.


Anonymous said...

Bysiewicz is the opposite of the endorsed candidate she maliciously tarred in the 1998 primary. Ellen Scalletar - the woman she beat - has intelligent, meaningful stands on the issues of import to Connecticut, she's nice, engenders warm feelings, and is someone I trust.

But Bysiewicz certainly can't be discounted - particularly when running against folk with acutal records of accomplishments with all the inevitable blemishes that come with them she can exploit. That includes the one-and-a-half mayors currently in the race (that would be DeStefano and the dead-man running) as well as Blumenthal if he decides to run.

(I was going to make a joke there about Blumenthal being spineless, but I actually don't think that's what's up. I think he just really wants to be senator, not governor, and doesn't want to be in a primary or general election where he might be exposed to the light and become less popular - or risk losing - before he reaches his goal. He looks at Rell's approval ratings, then looks at DeStefano and Bysiewicz and realizes he might not even make it that far, and is happy to wait and wait and wait a little more.)

I heard DeStefano speak recently and felt inspired, which made me really happy. Happy because that's what I want in a gubernatorial candidate, but also happy because I didn't like supporting him (given where Blumenthal and Malloy are - or aren't) just because of who he isn't.

Genghis Conn said...

Blumenthal is only comfortable running if his victory is assured. I don't think he's spineless, just extremely cautious.

Although if he did enter the race against Bysiewicz and DeStefano, he'd instantly be the front-runner.

Bysiewicz's vague record will be a plus for her. I still think DeStefano is desperately vulnerable on ethics, whether he deserves to be or no.