Thursday, July 14, 2005

DeStefano Goes Negative REALLY Early

The AP is reporting that John DeStefano's campaign has recently released a DVD to his supporters with the following image:

"John Rowland may be in jail, but the same old leadership with the same old policies are still in charge," a voice says as a black-and-white image of Rowland and his inmate number fades slowly into a picture of Rell. (AP)


Well, there's an awful lot more where that came from. It hasn't even started yet. We can expect there to be plenty more lines like this one, too:

DeStefano, in his video, tells viewers: "The way I win this race is by convincing people that there's a choice to be made here ... a choice between the corruption of low expectations and the choice for accomplishment." (AP)

Everybody see the word "corruption" in there?

Yes, I know that this is just a video meant to work Democratic supporters into a lather, but it's a good indication as to what the Democratic line will be next year. Whether any of it will stick or not is anybody's guess.

Another ugly campaign. I just can't wait.

"DeStefano Links Rell To Rowland, But Will It Stick?." Associated Press 14 July, 2005.


stomv said...

I think it's a great strategy to help the GOP keep their fortunes strong in CT. A state as "blue" as CT is, and the GOP has done extrememly well.

Going negative this early on a really popular female governor who isn't really connected to Rowland is going to haunt not only DeStefano, but all Dems in the state.

Rell has played her cards beautifully, and she's in great position to be (re)elected. All the Dems can do is try to throw her curveballs and hope she swings and misses. Until then, focus elsewhere.

Just my two bits.

mjames said...

How can you say she wasn't really connected to Rowland? Wasn't she the Lt. Governor? That leaves us with 2 assumptions to make: Either she knew what was going on, and did nothing about it, or even worse, she was oblivious to the entire scandal despite the fact that it was going on right under her nose. In my mind, the latter makes her pretty incompetant. Do you think if Malloy wins the primary, the Republicans are going to lay off the investigation he was under just because he was cleared of it? Keep dreaming. In a perfect world, neither side would have to go negative, but in reality we know the Republicans are going to dig up dirt on whoever we put up against Rell. I don't think we should let her incompetance slide, both as Lt. Governor and during her first year in office as Governor. If we don't point out her misgivings, who will?

Ebpie said...

Jodi Rell is not John Rowland and it is clear most CT voters realize that. Very few people seem to be holding her responsible for the previous administration's corruption. I don't think DeStefano's attacks are going to stick. Besides, DeStefano has had his own corruption problems in the past (not him personally, but his administration). Both sides are going to be using this issue a fair amount over the coming year.

Julio Gonzalez said...

Actually, hasn't every Democrat has been tagging the Rowland-Rell association since they all started. The evidence is below:

"We must restore integrity, ethics, and public trust to the Governor's office. We need state contracts reform. We need ethics reform."

-From S. Bysiewicz's Announcement

"Based on Governor Rell's 'no big disappointments' self-assessment, the people of Connecticut ought to be concerned. Governor Rell may be proving that...she is a transitional governor with one foot in an embarrassing and troubled Rowland era and the other just trying manage as best she can without a sense of direction."

- D. Malloy Press Release on 6/29/05

"The way I win this race is by convincing people that there's a choice to be made here ... a choice between the corruption of low expectations and the choice for accomplishment."

- J. DeStefano DVD as quoted by AP

How is the DeStefano argument uniquely "negative?" Maybe they are just at getting press!

Personally, I am a Democrat and I want to win to make society better and help people's lives.

One of the things we have learned from the Republican's bizarre success over the last decade is that you don't leave a candidate's perceived strengths intact when they are in reality a weakness.

Rell was against public financing. She was part of the problem in the legislature. A few recent personnel moves and executive orders do not rewrite Rell's checkered history on money in politics. Not to mention that when John DeStefano was the only Mayor working to create public-financing for his own city, nobody wanted to help or listen. Even in this session, the local option bill once again got squashed. Where's Rell on that? Nowhere.

Finally, let's all try and reserve judgement until you see the DVD - which I believe you can request at The bulk is about Mayor DeStefano's past accomplishments and his vision for the state. Not negative at all. Only a few portions are about setting up the contrast with Rell - which is intuitive for a DVD mailer to the base.

The bottom line is that DeStefano is organizing to win. Nobody else is. If we want to restore Connecticut's "blue-ness," we are going to have to offer contrasts while doign grassroots organizing.

Ugly? Perhaps. But democracy isn't supposed to be tidy.

I agree good politics shouldn't distort reality. But what is a distortion in the 3 candidates' statements above?

After that, it is a question of tactics. If you disagree with the DeStefano tactics of not ceding the ethics issue and focusing on organizing early, I think they would be eager to hear your alternative. But at this point, it makes a lot of sense to me.

frank chi said...

Genghis, I don't think we should hide from the word "corruption." There are a lot of Democrats who question her role in the Rowland administration (check out mjames's comment on this post) and it is perfectly fair to discuss concerns people have about her years as Lt. Governor.

Mayor DeStefano is trying to stress that there is another kind of corruption we need to worry about: the corruption of low expectations. I think that is a perfectly legitimately point to make. If you watch the DVD, that is what he talks about the majority of the time. We have a corruption of low expectations in Connecticut and it has plagued us for the past decade. There is nothing wrong with pointing that out because if we stay oblivious to it all, we will never solve our problems.

If addressing the issues is negative, then there is no way any of us can avoid it. We want to make sure the issues are discussed in order to convince voters that we have the best ideas.

If you would like to watch the DVD, you can request one at We'd love for you to see the whole presentation and not have vote make judgments on our message based on things taken out of context.

Genghis Conn said...


I am, perhaps, overly concerned with civility in public life, and an image of Rowland (with his inmate number) morphing in Rell seems a little over the top to me. The rest doesn't bother me, but that does.

You guys are word parsers, and you're very careful about what you say, so no free pass on the "corruption of low expectations" thing. Seems a bit sneaky, but that could be just me.

I'll take you up on the DVD, though. I'll let you know what I think after I watch it for myself.

DeanFan84 said...


My personal opinion is that you should have waited to see the DVD before you dove in so aggressively.

I have seen the DVD twice, and it is not negative campaigning. Period. Nothing negative in.

The DVD is mainly meant as a means for people to get to know John DeStefano, the person, a good bit better. You should see the hair John had as a teenager.

Yes, the bit you commented on was in the video. But it was really meant as a counterpoint against DeStefano's positive vision for New Haven. It was not an attack. Nor was it a cheap shot.

The fact is, under Republican governorship, our expectations have been corrupted. Nation's worst traffic. Fine! Last in job growth, No Worries! Terrible tax policy that makes owning a home impossibly unaffordable? We'll get to that tomorrow.

John's is a great critique. And no, I'm not going to give Rell a free pass on her Rowland connections. All those guys were in bed together. Rell is more or less guilty by association. I might forgive her, but let her explain what she knew and didn't know when Rowland was playing fast and loose with the public trust.

Anonymous said...

In the sequel DVD, will we soon see Sal Brancati morphing into DeStefano?

Julio Gonzalez said...

The Brancati example only proves DeStefano's strengths.

Brancati, along with many other Daniels/DeLietto era people was eased out a long-time ago and the Mayor asked a lot of fresher progressives to help rebuild city government and the local Democratic coalition.

As a matter of fact, the DeStefano administration has opposed a bunch of lobbying by Brancati for a downtown parking garage.

What about Andrea Jackson-Brooks & LCI, you retore? I am pretty sure her picture is on the Malloy website. It's the one where Mayor Malloy is shaking hands in the lawn. Maybe "Anonymous" will ask them why they have it up?

Anybody that brings that stuff 10 years ago is leaving out a lot of the important history since.

Another confirming example of DeStefano's assertive integrity just happened at the Housing Authority. After some hemming and hawing by the authority board he forcefully ushere the ouster of administrators implicated in illicitly entering a HUD inspection database. Mayor DeStefano acts aggressively to protect the integrity of government.

DeStefano has repeatedly worked against bad influences over New Haven politics. That's part of the reason he and his Town Chair get the "empire builder" rap. But I'd rather be with someone that cleans house than just coasts.

And isn't that the fundamental similarity about the Rowland-Rell years? A lot of coasting on broken policies and uninspiring politics.

Aldon Hynes said...

I must admit that I've found this discussion very interesting. I get a lot of flack by some of the more ardent DeStefano supporters for my opposition to going negative, particularly when I say something nice about Mayor Malloy.

I am ambivalent about trying to tie Rell's failures to Rowland's failures. Yes, she was his Lt. Governor and worked closely with him for many years, but as I've noted elsewhere, I'm not a big fan of guilt by association.

However, that is not what the DVD is about. The DVD was designed to introduce people to who John DeStefano is. It is a twenty minute DVD. It sets things up by having Kathy DeStefano talking about how the schools have improved in New Haven and introducing her husband.

It then has about a thirty second spot talking about the problems of the Rowland and Rell years. It starts with the voice over:

Over the last eleven years, Connecticut has been led by the team of John Rowland and Jodi Rell, but the corruption of the Rowland/Rell years has not been just been a corruption of leadership but a corruption of lower expectations. Connecticut now ranks 43rd of 50 states in creating jobs.

It goes on to talk about jobs that have been lost, transportation issues, education issues, health care issues and property tax issues.

It shows the headline from the Hartford Courant on April 7th saying, "Rell's performance hasn't matched the hype" and the voice over says, "John Rowland may be in jail but the same old leadership with the same old policies are still in charge. But we can change that."

It then goes on to talk for the remaining eighteen or so minutes about Mayor DeStefano's record of achievement in New Haven and his vision for a better Connecticut.

Is it negative to say that Connecticut is lagging because we have had leaders that lack vision? Perhaps, but if that is as negative as things get, it will be a very respectable race which I will be proud to be supporting Mayor DeStefano in.

Are people going to believe that Jodi Rell is corrupt in the same way that John Rowland was? No. That isn't what the brief moment that everyone is so concerned about was saying.

Are people going to believe that Jodi Rell has not demonstrated the leadership and vision that we need in our Governor? That is the more interesting question. Given a choice between Rell's leadership and vision and DeStefano's leadership and vision, I believe that DeStefano comes out way ahead.

Genghis Conn said...

Thank you, Aldon, for that highly reasonable commentary. I look forward to seeing the DVD for myself.

MikeCT said...

DeStefano or any Dem cannot win without criticizing Rell and explaining why he would do a better job. That's not personal, and it's not negative campaigning - it's the debate of vision and ideas.

And she stood loyally by her man for many years while questions swirled about his ethics. More importantly, her budget and public policies mimic his. The difference is that her proposed program cuts are only slightly less severe, she faces a stronger and more principled Democratic opposition in the legislature, and she is more willing to compromise than Rowland or his real shadow Governor, former OPM director Marc Ryan. She should not get a free ride for her current or former behavior and proposals.

Finally, while a couple quotes out of context make for good headlines, they do not form a campaign strategy.

Anonymous said...


Your site is great, but your comments feature is a bit lacking in user friendliness. Have you considered Haloscan? It works well on some other blogs I frequent.

ctkeith said...

whats the matter with tieing Rell to Rowland? She rode his back to where she is.

I hope whomever the Dem candidate is they can find a picture of Rell and her hubby in the hottub with Rowland and his wife.

feigenbaums said...

Democrats aren't going to win this thing by treating it like a game of badmitten. There's an 11 year legacy of virtually zero progress that needs to be shown for what it is. The gloves NEED to be taken off, expectations NEED to be raised, spades NEED to be called spades, and vision NEEDS to be demanded. If Democracts are afraid to take this election seriously, then we're just going to end up with four more years of the same old crap.

Indian2Nighthawk said...

For those who haven't heard it in the stump speach, DeStefano's comments usually run this way,
"The curruption that has really hurt Connecticut over the last few years hasn't been the curruption that put Roland on the front page of the Hartford is the curruption of our own expectations of what we can achieve, and it starts at the top"

For those who are pissed he is bringing up this type of curruption, maybe you should ask yourself what Connecticut strives to be the best at. When you realize that it is pretty much only UConn basketball, then you'll realize that maybe it's not the petty attack you have written it off as being.

Mike DePalma said...

Everyone that is interested in this blog should come onto our website and request a dvd. I'm on the staff so I've seen it about a dozen times, but I still love seeing people's reactions to it. These reactions aren't all positive, but at least it creates conversation and brings awareness to the campaign. Any democrat, regardless of who you are supporting in the primary, should realize the benefit of learning as much as possible about each candidate. I'm from Norwalk, so I am close with a lot of Malloy supporters. When Mayor DeStefano came down to speak in from of the Norwalk Dem. Town committee, there were obviously a bunch of people I knew there, and we joked back and forth about who we were supporting. I said just listen to what he has to say and talk to me afterwards. But after Mayor Knopp spoke, half of the crowd, including the people I was talking to earlier got up and left, never listening to John's speech. Maybe I'm just being naive, but it was disappointing that Democrats wouldn't want to hear the opinions of a candidate that has a good chance of running against Rell in '06. In the end, aren't we all fighting for the same cause? I might have rambled on a little, this is my first post on this blog, but my point is that everyone should watch the DVD even if you aren't a DeStefano supporter. Then, after you see it, we can have a discussion here about what you think about it, good or bad.

Anonymous said...

Isn't DeStefano is from the DiLieto era? DeStefano talks about New Haven's rebuilding, but not about state money that Rowland provided for it?

Julio mentioned Ms Brooks, where even DeStefano admitted he screwed up.

Anonymous said...

Admitted he screwed up?

Or admitted he signed off?

Julio Gonzalez said...


I don't understand your point about the DeLieto era or Ms. Jackson-Brooks?

Yes, he worked in city government during the DeLieto years and had a good track record. People griped that he waited by the door waiting to see if people came in on time. That seems like a good thing to me.

As for the whole LCI thing, let me re-emphasize my comments above that are also echoed by other fans of the Mayor...he admits mistakes, takes responsibility, and cleans house. If this bother's you so much, why don't you ask Malloy's team about her picture? Is there a perfect elected official out there that is running for governor? In democracy our representatives are humans. And as a result, they make mistakes. What matters is how they deal with them.

Finally, here are the two questions I have for you:

If Mayor DeStefano is so bad, then why are there so many energetic, change-oriented people, supporting him so passionately?

And if Rell is so great, why are people in Connecticut feeling like their lives are less economically secure?

It seems anonymous that all you want to do is ahistorically smear one candidate. How about some engagement of rebuttals against your claims.

Anonymous said...

My sense is that the DiLieto era was not a posted child for honest open government in New Haven.

DeStefano's conduct in regard to an illegal loan for Ms. Brooks, first denying involvement in approving the loan and then holding others responsible, is troubling in an elected official.

Ms. Brooks appearance in a picture, is just not in the same class.

If Rell is a candidate, I'll question her conduct. As to why are there so many energetic, change-oriented people, supporting him (DeStefano) so passionately?

Well Rowland fooled a great many energetic and change-oriented people, but they won't repeat that mistake again. Candidates should expect to have themselves and their conduct examined very carefully. Rowland conduct in Conrgess's check overdrafting scandel should have been his downfall.

I've cited published reports that have questioned DeStefano's decisions and in the end, for any candidate has their conduct been ethical, has it wasted public funds and can you still trust the individual.