Political Fallout Uncertain
Sources say that the final BRAC vote, which will decide whether the Groton sub base stays open, will come later this week, probably Thursday. No matter how the vote goes, the consequences will be dramatic. What will some of the political effects of either a "yes" (base will close) or a "no" (base stays open) vote be?
Political observers have been saying for quite some time that Rob Simmons's fate will mirror that of the base. If it closes, he goes. The conventional wisdom suggests that the economic fallout and the general sense of demoralization, coupled with the fact that Simmons did not deliver on his signature campaign pledge, to keep the base open, will lead to a Democratic victory in the 2nd District next year. Simmons is a fighter, though, and a tough campaigner. The race will be close no matter what.
There may be other effects. The state's economy seems to be becoming more and more uncertain, as dismal job numbers and a steady stream of fleeing corporations cloud the horizon. Add the sub base to the mix, and citizens could start sensing an economic crisis ahead. If the governor and the legislature look like they're not doing enough, they could be in trouble. An economic reformer may be able to capture the governor's office next year if the sense of crisis is deep enough.
Of course, the base wouldn't really be shut down until 2010-11. So the political and economic fallout may be a long time in coming.
Base Stays Open
Things have been looking better for the base lately. Dennis Hastert and Jimmy Carter have weighed in on its behalf, and the savings the DOD has been projecting may in fact be inflated.
If the base stays, the conventional wisdom will be that Rob Simmons will stay in office. Not necessarily. Voters may find, now that the base is due to stay, that Simmons is no longer quite so attractive as a candidate. And, in what may turn out to be a banner year for Democrats, national trends and the district's own Democratic leanings may run Simmons out of office even if Groton stays open.
However, Gov. Rell and other incumbents will be able to point to the Sub Base as a sign that Connecticut is doing better than the numbers suggest.
Which way the vote will go, I can't say. We're all hoping the base stays open. Either way, though, the political aftermath will be interesting.