What did we do to deserve this? The party chairmen for both the RNC and the DNC appeared in Connecticut over a three-day stretch from Sunday to today.
DNC Chair Howard Dean appeared at a fundraiser in New Haven on Sunday, pledging more support for Democratic congressional challengers and criticizing Connecticut's congressional Republicans:
Democrats have targeted U.S. Reps. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District, and Chris Shays, R-4th District, promising assistance to challengers Joseph Courtney and Diane Farrell. Dean said the party also had hopes of unseating the dean of the House delegation, U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson, R-5th District.
"Nancy Johnson has taken $10,500 from Tom DeLay, who was just indicted. She votes with Tom DeLay about 80 percent of the time. Chris Shays votes with Tom DeLay about 92 percent of the time. Rob Simmons votes with Tom DeLay 95 percent of the time and has taken $40,000." (Pazniokas)
He also criticized RNC chair Ken Mehlman for appearing before the NAACP in Waterbury:
"I'm shocked that he would have the nerve to show his face in front of any African American organization after the way they treated those people in New Orleans," Dean said. (Pazniokas)
Mehlman's spokesman shot back.
"While the president is unifying the country to help with recovery efforts along the Gulf Coast, Democrats continue to shamelessly use this tragedy to tear the country apart," McLear said. "We are proud of our efforts to make the party of Lincoln stronger through its diversity and will not stoop to the race-baiting that now seems to guide the Democrats' agenda." (Pazniokas)
So... vitriol and possible race baiting followed by outright lies followed by a remarkably shallow historical reference followed by more vitriol. Ugh. This is why I try not to follow national politics so much. (You can read a more positive view of Dean's speech over at Aldon Hynes's blog.)
Mehlman, aside from going before the NAACP and repeating the technically correct "Party of Lincoln" stuff, spoke with reporters about Connecticut politics.
Mehlman said the national GOP will provide resources to the three congressional incumbents. He said the party is also willing to help Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, if she decides to run for governor in 2006. Rell is expected to announce her decision soon. In past interviews, Rell has said she is leaning toward running.
Rell has taken stands on social issues that differ from Bush's. For example, she supports civil unions, stem cell research and abortion rights. Mehlman said the national GOP welcomes diverse views and hopes Rell will run.
"We're a big tent party and I'm proud that we're a big tent party," he said.(Haigh)
Sure you are, Ken. Actually, it would be nice if either party were a "big tent" party, but the sad fact is that at the national level moderates are increasingly finding themselves cut loose from both. Daily Kos has yet another article attacking Joe Lieberman for fraternizing with the enemy, while Harriet Miers finds herself under constant attack from the right for not being the sort of Neanderthal conservative Pat Robertson was thinking of when he asked God to smite a justice or two.
Connecticut, despite the anti-Rob Simmons phone messages I seem to get every week, is a lot saner. The last thing we need is Howard Dean and Ken Mehlman messing it all up for us.
We can't hide forever, though. The one thing that seems certain is that races of national importance will be played out in the second, fourth and fifth districts next year. National trends will play a huge part in determing the makeup of our next congressional delegation.
Haigh, Susan. "RNC chairman says Bush's poll numbers won't hurt candidates." Associated Press 10 October, 2005.
Pazniokas, Mark. "Dean Lays Into GOP." Hartford Courant 10 October, 2005.