Sunday, October 16, 2005

First DeStefano Ad to Air This Week

Huh. This is early:

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano's 30-second ad will begin airing Tuesday - 10 months before the Democratic primary and more than a year before the election, his campaign said. It's a sign that Democrats are preparing to spend big to try to unseat the popular incumbent.
The advertisement cites a federal report that identified Connecticut's job growth as the most stagnant in the nation. It also features a picture of highway gridlock as a narrator says, "We can do better."
"We know she's running for governor. We want to start having that conversation now," DeStefano's campaign manager, Shonu Gandhi, said. (AP)

All right, then.

I suppose that when the opposing candidate is as popular as Rell, the only way to gain some ground is to tear her down. Make the public believe that she shouldn't be elected for a full term. The tactic is sound enough.

It also counters the free publicity Rell got on Friday, when the major networks covered her announcement.

Still seems really early. Might also be playing into Rell's accusation that the Democrats are too negative.

...That's all I'll say about it right now. If I happen to see it, I'll say more.

"New Haven mayor hits airwaves early to take on candidate Rell." Associated Press 16 October, 2005.


Aldon Hynes said...

Rell’s belief that there is nothing wrong with our state makes her ill-equipped to address the problems we face. We need a gutsy leader who isn’t afraid to talk about these problems.

Mayor DeStefano is challenging Rell early and will challenge her often about real issues affecting the quality of all our lives in Connecticut.

We need to be talking about jobs, healthcare and transportation and Mayor DeStefano will actively pursue these issues.

Ebpie said...

A request for the DeStefano campaign, can you please make the ad available for viewing on your website?

This is very early and it will certainly get DeStefano's name out there. That being said, going negative in your first ad can backfire. That was one problem Jim Sullivan had in 2004. He never defined himself in his TV ads; all he did was attack Rob Simmons as a right-wing drone (which the electorate didn’t buy). When Simmons hit back he was able to portray Sullivan as an inexperienced tax and spend liberal who never showed up for work. As Sullivan never ran a positive ad saying who he was, the voters believed the Congressman.

I doubt DeStefano will make the same mistakes Sullivan did, but I think it would have been better for him to come out with a positive, personal ad first. If all voters hear from the Democrats are negative rants about the state, they will stick with Rell.

Genghis, why no post on fundraising in the Congressional races? All three challengers raised well over $200,000. Both Simmons and Shays are close to $1 million and Johnson is just shy of $2 million. CT television in 2006 will be nothing but campaign commercials.

Julio Gonzalez said...

When you see the ad, I don't think you will find it negative at all. It focuses on the things Connecticut can do better at and introduces Mayor DeStefano and his New Haven record. It's pretty substantive and positive.

Incumbents (and their supporters) often resort to branding any contrast as disloyalty and negativity. I guess it is easier to do that than engage in the issues. I certainly hope that the mainstream media, as well as the regular contributors to this site make sure to actually engage the main point of DeStefano's economic critique: if Rell is so great, where's the economic plan to make us competitive?

Aldon Hynes said...


I am working on getting the ad up on the website as soon as possible. My guess is that it will be up around the same time as it goes live on TV.

demnow said...

I think it's smart to get the ads started long as they are positive. Both Malloy and DeStefano have stories to tell about what they have done as mayor.

But if they are negative on Rell, or are "comparison" ads, they will backfire. Just too early for that.

Genghis Conn said...


I've noticed the numbers (busy weekend). You're right about the campaign commercials, we're going to get swamped. If you live in the 2nd district like I do, it's going to be especially bad. A few days ago, the DCCC called my house soliciting campaign donations (I'm not even a Democrat), so the Dems are going all out to recapture the House.

I can't imagine that DeStefano will run as bad a campaign as Sullivan, or that Rell will run as nasty a campaign as Simmons.

I personally would like to see Democrats start talking about campaign finance reform.

Chris MC said...

Negative, schmegative.

First off, it doesn't sound like the ad is doing much but focusing on the real kitchen table issues Connecticut's middle and working class taxpayers, commuters, and families are dealing with on a daily basis. Subtext: we get it. Implied fact: the current administration doesn't. That isn't negative campaigning. Again, analogous to making allegations of corruption, let's not glom the pointed and well-aimed critique together with sliming people by using unflattering photos and misquoting them, and the like.

Second, and more importantly, Rell has gotten a free ride from pretty much everybody, press and loyal opposition alike. Then she showed them she was very much John Rowland's protege when she played them on the campaign finance reform legislation. Rowland must have been laughing his ass off.

Honestly GC, "tear her down"? This state has a caretaker at the helm, not an executive. She has shown that she fully intends to play position. There is no choice, when nobody else is doing it, but to challenge her on the status quo.

In fact, that's the damned job description.

Genghis Conn said...

Rell has gotten a free ride from pretty much everybody, press and loyal opposition alike. Then she showed them she was very much John Rowland's protege when she played them on the campaign finance reform legislation.

This state has a caretaker at the helm, not an executive.

Sounds like tearing her down to me.

Haven't seen the ad, so I can't say for sure that it does the same, but the news reports seem to indicate that it's aimed at Rell's leadership.

When talking about, er, "kitchen table issues," one good strategy of the challenger is to show why the incumbent has failed on those issues before building the challenger and his/her issues up. In fact, that's what the whole campaign will be about.

To avoid getting "played" on campaign finance reform, it seems to me that Democrats can simply pass the bill.

Blue in CD2 said...


Why would the Dem's pass the campaign finance reform bill? Why would they take money our of thier own pockets and the pockets of thier co-workers?

Rell would love for this reform to happen before the election because she simply doesnt need the money. Her position affords her all of the visibility she needs, and all of the press cycles she can handle.

Its all of the other politicians who need public contributions, who will be fighting it out tooth and nail for re-election. These are men and women who need to pay for visibility. They are people who have spent careers nurturing the relationships to massage money out of big donors. They are good at it too.

Why would they want to stop?? For the good of the system??

I think not.

Chris MC said...

As Rep. David McCluskey notes over on Connecticut Progressive Democrat:

"A statement from Gov. Rell was passed out at one meeting [of the working group she called for after the Legislative session] about a possible compromise on implementation dates, but there was no back and forth discussion - simply a memo from on high. She submitted her proposed campaign finance bill AFTER the working group had completed its report."

I sat there and watched the discussion on CT-N. That is the fact of what occurred.

You purport to be a proponent of campaign finance reform. Yet you defend Rell at every turn, when what she is doing is, as I said, playing position, just like Rowland. Which is it, GC?

To paraphrase Harry Truman, if by stating the facts and placing the responsibility where it belongs in a public forum seems like I'm giving her hell, so be it.

Dave Mooney said...

Regarding timing, JD and DM are relative unknowns, JR is popular and a Democrat hasn't won CT-Gov since before recorded history. All these factors add up to needing to start very early if either are going to have a chance.

Genghis Conn said...


That's nice. But she's not the one responsible for passing the bill: the huge Democratic majority is. Democrats don't need to be led off track by what Rell does. They barely need the governor's office at all. Create a workable bill and pass it. If Rell doesn't sign it, then it's her fault nothing got done.

Rell "plays position" very well. She's skilled at manipulating the legislature. But so what? Create a bill and pass it. No more excuses.

Genghis Conn said...


Very true. This ad is more for the base, just to let them know that the DeStefano campaign exists and that the race will be contested. See my analysis for more.

Chris MC said...

So what is that it goes to leadership, GC. She pretends to lead, but all she is doing is gaming the system.

To petulantly insist that the legislature (continue to) be less saavy politically is just nonsense.

Rell is defending the status quo, because it is to her advantage to do so.

Genghis Conn said...

Isn't it also to the advantage of Democrats to defend the status quo?

Let me ask you this in all seriousness: do legislative Democrats actually want campaign finance reform? I'm not talking just about public financing, although that would be nice, but restrictions on contractors and lobbyists, better ethics policing, etc.

If this is something Democrats don't actually support, they should say so and go home early tomorrow. Why mess around? Hand the governor her hat.

If they do want it, they should draft a bill and pass it. Amann and Williams can take the lead on this, as they should. Rell's leadership (or lack thereof) doesn't matter if Democrats can take the lead instead. So far, I haven't seen that happen.

Chris MC said...

Respectfully, GC, you apparently haven't watched the proceedings of the working group. You can see right there who the players are. To address the question directly - yes, there is a significant group of powerful Democrats in the House (call them the Progressive Caucus) that is totally committed to this. That, plus the leadership of Sen. DeFronzo as co-chair of GAE, is the only reason it is on the table.

The fact is that the Senate did pass a bill - one that they were prepared to pass before the Governor showed up on the scene - which is why, IMHO, she turned up when she did and supported the Caruso version, which everyone knew was DOA. Her subsequent modus operandi on this issue confirms this view of her motives.

And you ought to know better than to say "Democrats" as if there is one flavor. On that subject, you never mention that there aren't Legislative Republican supporters grabbing the mike and screaming for this either.

All that said, it is by no means clear that campaign finance reform is called for. Suggesting that opposing this legislation, or failing to support it, is tantamount to condoning corruption, is nonsense.

Remember that Newton, Rowland, Silvestri, go down the list, were all nailed under _existing_ statutes.

As Aldon has correctly pointed out, the real crisis of civic life is not so much the fact that there are professionals who are well paid to advocate on behalf of their clients, but the power vacuum created by the failure of too many individual citizens to be acquainted with the facts, much less hold their elected representatives to account, donate small sums to campaigns, or even vote.

Be assured, if we had 90 percent turnout at every election, the business value of lobbyists would drop off in a big hurry. If citizens were availing themselves of the disclosure currently available, and letting their representatives know their feelings, we'd probably be fine right where we are.

And - while it is definitely true at the federal and state-wide level - to say that there is no point to being engaged because you need money to be factor in a legislative race is largely nonsense - legislative races are roughly comparable to municipal races in scope and cost - although that is definitely an over-simplification. (Senate races are more like small Congressional races, you can't door knock the whole district as a practical matter).

Without reciting chapter and verse here, the fact finding discussed in the working group meetings demonstrates that. For some detail on this subject, read David McCluskey's (who is one of the aforementioned players) response to my question over on

Chris MC said...

over on . Dunno why that piece didn't post just then....

Genghis Conn said...

A thorough and thoughtful reply, Chris. I appreciate it.

Money in elections produces a vicious circle. People don't participate because they feel there isn't any point. They feel there's no point partly because of all the money they see in politics from lobbyists, etc. And yet lobbyists have power because people stay away from the process. It could be that forcing lobbyists to take a step back would help break this cycle. Not that there's any evidence of that, but it's worth trying.

I know quite well that there are many "flavors" of Democrat, but I think a clear, strong stance by both legislative leaders on a single bill would help bring some recalcitrant Dems back to the fold. Amann and Williams (especially Amann) just don't seem all that interested in getting something done.

As for whether we need campaign finance reform... I do believe that something ought to be done. There are other steps we could take besides cutting lobbyists out of the equation and going to a public financing system. A significant pay raise for legislators is one thing. $28K/year for a state representative is not enough. For almost everyone, that means that they either need to have another job or be independently wealthy.

The idea of longer terms is also interesting, as is the idea of expanding the size of the House. Fewer elections in smaller districts might balance out nicely.

I still think a responsible campaign finance reform bill that includes public financing would be a good idea, and that Democrats can find enough points to agree on to draft and pass one. I'd like to see legislative leaders pick this up and put it through.