Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Simmons Wants Funds for DHS Office at Sub Base

Is he gaining ground for base, or trying to soften the blow?

Rep. Rob Simmons is hopeful that he has secured money to establish a Homeland Security office at the Groton Sub Base:

U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons told a business group Monday that he thinks he has lined up funding to locate a joint state and federal Homeland Security office at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton.

That would give the base an additional advantage in the upcoming battle over Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, the 2nd District Republican told about 150 people at a breakfast meeting of the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce at the Radisson Hotel. (Hamilton)

The idea here is to get more than one service at a single base, which supposedly helps when the base is being considered for closure.

I have seen in several places, however, the rumor that the list is essentially done. The article in The Day seems to agree:

Simmons told the chamber that he's heard a major newspaper has obtained a “bootleg copy” of the base-closure list and will run it in coming days. But [chairman of the Sub Base Realignment Committee John] Markowicz said he's also heard that Pentagon offices continue to go through the preliminary list and it could change at any time in the next 21/2 weeks.

“Until I see (Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld's name on the official list, it falls into the category of rumor,” Markowicz said. “But I have to say, rumors today probably have a lot more credibility than they have in the last couple of years.” (Hamilton)

We'll be watching for that "bootleg" list. But, in the meantime, here are a few questions:

If a DHS office is established at the base, would it remain open if the rest of the base closes? If so, that could soften the blow a bit.

Both Simmons and Markowicz seem to believe that the list can be changed, even once it's officially released. Can the sub base get off the list once it's official?

How much influence do politicians actually have over BRAC? Simmons seems to think that breaking with DeLay would harm chances of keeping the base. Is that actually true? Since Rumsfeld makes the final decisions, I imagine that it could be.

In other news, 2nd District challenger Joe Courtney has announced that he's raised about $60,000 so far, which isn't bad for a guy who started just a few weeks ago. No other Democrats have shown interest in the race so far, and Courtney has shown he can raise money. Possible closure of the base plus a strong, well-funded Democratic challenger could equal the perfect storm for Simmons.

Hamilton, Robert A. "Simmons Seeks funds To Bolster chances Of Sub base's Survival." New London Day 26 April, 2005.

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