Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Republican Declares Candidacy for Secretary of the State

Republican candidates (at least those who aren't already in office) have been hard to find lately. I suppose one can't blame them. Republicans haven't put much of an effort into running for Congress in the heavily Democratic 1st and 3rd Districts in a very long time, and neither U.S. Senator has faced a serious challenge from the other party in more than a decade.

However, a Republican candidate has finally popped up in Cheshire. The registrar of voters of that town, former race car driver Richard Abbate, has declared his candidacy for Secretary of the State. His platform?

The former race car driver is about to run on a we-know-what-running-an-election-really-entails platform. He feels that Susan Bysiewicz, the current secretary of the state, doesn't know what it's like to run a local election, and that the office needs someone with his experience. (Porter)

Interesting. Actual policies to follow, I assume. However, he's counting on a big boost from Governor Rell to help him out, and is a bit hesitant to run if she isn't leading the ticket:

Technically, Abbate hasn't filed papers with the secretary of the state's office, yet. He's waiting for Gov. M. Jodi Rell to officially declare her candidacy, which he expects will happen next month. He doesn't want to be a "lone ranger" candidate.

"If in fact Jodi decided not to run, I'd have to take a look at who is going to be at the top of the ticket," Abbate said. "I'm not interested in being Don Quixote tilting at windmills. I suspect it will be Governor Rell." (Porter)

I wonder if that sense of doom about the possibility of Rell not running is pervasive in the state party? I can't blame them for that, either, I suppose. They have an extremely short bench, and no statewide elected officials other than Rell herself. But what Abbate said here speaks volumes about the weakness of the state Republicans.

So far Abbate has the Republican field all to himself, in contrast with a very crowded Democratic side. I wouldn't be surprised if no other challengers emerged. The last Republican Secretary of the State was Pauline Kezer, who ran for governor in 1994 (she was defeated in the primary by John Rowland) and left office in January 1995. Before that, Democrats held the post from 1959, when Ella Grasso took that office, to 1991, when Julia Tashjian left it (for reference, there's a nice list on the Secretary of the State's site). Abbate faces a very steep uphill climb, indeed.

Porter, Caroline D. "Abbate ready to enter race for secretary of the state." Meriden Record-Journal 19 July, 2005.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely right on many accounts...even if Rell wins with 60% of the vote, Republicans have had very short coat-tails in CT. Only hope to win Secretary of State is to get a serious candidate (e.g., Rep. Themis Klaradis, R-Derby, is rumored to be interested) and rally around her. If the six(!) Democratic candidates spend all their money in a negative primary, a well-funded Republican (such as the wealthy Klaradis) could win.

You are also right about the short bench for the Republicans. The three Republican Congressman could all potentially be Senate candidates, but only in an open seat. There are a number of State Senators who are potential future Congressional candidates (e.g., Nickerson & McKinney in the Fourth). But there is no one besides Rell who can credibly run for Governor right now. That is why her Lt. Gov. pick will be so important...will she pick someone who has the credibility to be Governor after her?

Genghis Conn said...


Klaridis would make things interesting, to be sure.

There has been some speculation about who she might pick. Perhaps someone in the legislative leadership, like Ward or DeLuca, would make sense. Then again, she may want to try for some sort of balance, and choose someone a bit more conservative than she is. Perhaps Sen. Kissel (R-Enfield), who may be in significant danger in 2006 (his margin of victory was the smallest for any state senator). Kissel would also provide a geographic balance, and help to carry the Enfield area.

Ebpie said...

It's good to see a Republican stepping up to the plate. Given the very crowded Democratic field and a Rell candidacy the GOP has its best shot at winning the Secretary of State’s office in years.

Klarides is my state rep. I haven't heard anything about her running for Secretary of State in 2006, but if she ran she would make a very strong candidate. Hopefully the GOP can avoid a primary and quickly rally around one candidate.

I think Rell is going to chose someone who can help build the state party. My guess would be McKinney (young, Fairfield, son of a Congressman), but Kissel (moderate, from a swing area) is certainly a posibility.

Genghis Conn said...

People in Enfield would be thrilled to have Kissel on the ticket, believe me. I don't know very much about McKinney, unfortunately, but a young man from a populous area would make sense, too.

Anonymous said...

Rather than focusing on my former endeavors in auto racing, the electors of Connecticut would be well advised to examine what I have been doing for at least the last nine years. I have served in the Elections Department of the Town of Cheshire for that entire period of time. I have served the Town as its Republican Registrar for the past six years. I was elected President of the Registrars of Voters Association of Connecticut and have served for the last three years. During these past three years I have spent a significant portion of my time working with members of the General Assembly on elections related legislation.
The insinuation that I am not a "serious candidate" would be dead wrong. So far not one single announced or rumored candidate, including Representative Klaradis, has any significant experience in actually being an Elections Administrator. They all know how to run for office, but how many or them know how to run an election? Let us not forget that the Secretary of the State is the the Chief Elections Official for our State. Wouldn't it be wiser to "hire" a professional elections administrator for a change, instead of another attorney or seeker after higher political office. SOTS should not be allowed to simply become a 'stepping stone' on the way to the Governor's Mansion. If I am fortunate enough to be chosen by the people of Connecticut to serve them as their Secretary of State I promise that I will NOT seek any higher position in government. I will concentrate my energies during the entirety of my term of office on delivering excellence in elections to our people.
Richard J. Abbate
Registrar of Voters, Cheshire

Genghis Conn said...

Mr. Abbate,

Interesting points. You may want to post some or all of your message in the latest open forum, so more people can read what you have to say.

Anonymous said...


Getting elected has nothing to do with experience. Elections are based upon popularity. Since Themis looks a lot better than you (no disrespect intended) she has the advantage. I also hear that there will soon be another Republican with deep pockets that will soon jump in from the Weathersfield area. Good luck to you Richard!

Richard J. Abbate said...

To anonymous. Thanks for wishing me good luck! In response to your observation that experience doesn't win elections, money does.
Sadly you are probably right about that in most cases. Still if I gave up simply because I'm not as rich as some other candidates, or as pretty as some I would be giving assent to a position that I am totally opposed to. We must return the ability for the capable and qualified, but cash (and appearance?) challenged individual to be able to contribute to our democracy. If Abraham Lincoln was running today he wouldn't have gotten by a local caucus. Themis may be pretty (I've never actually seen her) and someone else may have 'deep pockets' but I'm in this race because I know I can do the best job for the people of CT. If the party and people want a beauty queen or a rich guy that is their choice to make. I'm just gonna give them a realistic alternative.
Richard J. Abbate