Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Windsor to Follow Manchester's Lead?

Apparently, Windsor Democrats have also had enough of Joe Lieberman. They will be voting on two proposed resolutions censuring Senator Lieberman at their next meeting on February 2nd. The resolutions were sent to me by a WDTC member (See comment section for the full text of the proposed resolutions).

The person I talked to said he'd be surprised if at least one of the resolutions didn't pass.

They aren't as concise or focused as the Manchester resolution, but they do capture the same sense of frustration that a certain segment of Democrats feel about their junior senator. For the record, it is very, very rare for DTCs to do anything like this.

Just how indicative this is of hostility towards Lieberman in DTCs statewide is impossible to say. We'll have to wait and see.

Caligiuri, Mazurek in Race to Succeed Murphy in Senate

The battle to succeed State Senator Chris Murphy will feature two familiar faces for area residents. State Rep. John Mazurek, D-Wolcott, has announced that he will seek the post, opposing former Waterbury Acting Mayor Sam Caligiuri, who recieved much praise for his five-month term in office following the arrest of the disgraced Philip Giordano.

State Rep. John Mazurek, D-Wolcott, announced Monday he will seek the Democratic nomination for the 16th Senatorial District seat now held by state Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Cheshire.

He said he decided to run after learning that state Rep. Bruce P. Zalaski, D-Southington, has decided not to enter the senate race, but to seek a third house term, instead. Zalaski said Monday he is throwing his full support behind Mazurek. “He will make a great state senator,” he said.
“I will beat Sam Caligiuri in his hometown,” Mazurek said.

“All that talk is well and good,” Caligiuri responded. “But the issue in this campaign is who will best be able to change what happens in Hartford in the General Assembly.

“I welcome Corky (Mazurek) into this debate.” (Pollack)

The 16th Senate District covers Wolcott as well as pieces of Cheshire, Southington and Waterbury. It is a heavily Democratic district, easily won by Sen. Murphy in the 2004 election. Mazurek won his race in Wolcott with 60% of the vote in 2004. Caligiuri, a lawyer who was president of the Waterbury Board of Aldermen before being appointed Acting Mayor in 2001, has never run for election outside of Waterbury. Wolcott, interestingly, is a very Republican town which strongly supported President Bush in 2004. Mazurek has a somewhat conservative voting record; he voted against civil unions in 2005, and abstained from voting on campaign finance reform.


Pollack, Robert. "Mazurek will run for senate seat in 16th." Meriden Record-Journal 31 January, 2006.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Open Forum

Apparently, the money Connecticut is getting for security against terrorism may not be enough.

Sen. Barack Obama will be delivering an address at the annual state Democratic Jefferson-Jackson-Bailey dinner, held in Hartford in March.

There are a lot of people annoyed with Joe Lieberman and other Democrats for voting to end debate on Alito, today. Actually, this is the kind of "annoyed" that involves pitchforks and torches. Ned Lamont can only benefit.

What else is happening today?

Lieberman Tacking Left

In 1994, a host of no-name Republican candidates were in the running to challenge one-term Senator Joe Lieberman. One of these, Dr. Joseph Bentivegna of Wethersfield, used to speak on the stump of a disease he called "Lieberman's Syndrome," which was characterized by a weak and bendable backbone. To demonstrate, he'd take out a little plastic spine and show "it can be bent any way it is pushed," much to the delight of his Republican audience (Daly).

This may be an odd image of Lieberman, who has, if anything, been known to be too stubborn, and a man who stands by his values and beliefs no matter what. Indeed, that sort of stubborn support for the Iraq War is part of what's landed him in hot water with the liberal wing of his party.

Now, however, with the threat of a well-funded primary challenger on the horizon, Lieberman appears to have shifted course somewhat:

But last week, Lieberman took somewhat sudden, and very conspicuous steps to the left, giving pause to even his most vocal liberal critics.

On Tuesday, Lieberman, the top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, opened a hearing on Hurricane Katrina by vilifying the Bush White House for allegedly muzzling officials who could tell Congress who knew what about the looming disaster and when.

Then on Thursday, Lieberman announced his opposition to Bush’s nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, noting that it would be the first of five Supreme Court nominations — three of them by Republican presidents — that he would vote against.

And this week, Lieberman, who has already co-sponsored a lobbying and ethics reform proposal co-authored by McCain and Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4, plans to get behind a second proposal endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. (Straw)

Is this the return of that dreaded syndrome? If so, it may not be working. It's highly debatable whether the senator's most vocal critics have been "given pause" by his recent actions, as the article says. Some aren't buying it, and remain just as steadfast in their distaste for Lieberman and support for Ned Lamont as ever before.

At this point, there's very little Lieberman can do to win over the vast majority of Lamont supporters. A lot of liberals put Lieberman in or close to the same category as they do George W. Bush: he is the enemy, and they will not accept him. Worse, to them, he is a traitor.

This sort of polarized "us or them" thinking has been a fixture of the politics of this decade, largely thanks to the uncompromising policies of the ruling Republican leadership. I tend to think it won't last forever. Good, productive government is built on compromise, not strife. But this is where we are, and where we've been heading since 1964. The days of the "big tent" party may very well be over and done at the national level, at least for now. The widespread, national support for Lamont, an inexperienced candidate who in other years might just have been a blip on the radar, is a significant symptom of this trend.

2006 may be one of those rare years of realignment, in which the political order is turned on its head. If it is, no amount of leftward progress may be able to save Joe Lieberman.


Daly, Matthew. "Approach is Difference in GOP Senate Candidates." Hartford Courant 29 August, 1994.

Straw, Joseph. "Dems cheer Lieberman’s move to left, Bush attacks." New Haven Register 30 January, 2006.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Weicker Supports Lamont's Candidacy, But Doesn't Rule Out Run

Former Governor Would Stay on Ballot if Lamont Loses

Lowell Weicker is backing Ned Lamont, for now, but hasn't ruled out running against Lieberman should Lamont lose, according to a story in today's Greenwich Time.

In public comments made in December, Weicker said he would be strongly induced to run against the incumbent if no other viable candidate stepped up to the challenge. But, since then, former Greenwich selectman Ned Lamont revealed that he is considering challenging Lieberman for the Democratic nomination.

"I can assure you, if Ned Lamont wins the Democratic nomination for United States Senate, at that point I would be gladly willing to step aside," Weicker said.


"If I make the run, it would be as an independent," Weicker said, explaining that his candidacy would revolve around the war. "The issue is the war, period. And I know exactly where he stands on that." (Vigdor)

So according to Weicker, there will be an antiwar alternative to Lieberman on the ballot this November no matter what.

Should Sen. Lieberman be worried? The not-quite-candidacy of his potential primary challenger has gathered an awful lot of media attention, and money is sure to pour in from all over the country once he finally declares. Even if Lamont is defeated, his supporters will likely back Weicker in November instead of Lieberman, should Weicker be on the ballot. If the Republicans, as threatened, run a strong candidate of their own, the vote could be split in ways that are very dangerous for Mr. Lieberman.

Then again, both Lamont and Weicker are long shots, right now, and no real GOP challenger has yet stepped forward. Lieberman's base of moderates and independents could deliver a fourth term for him quite handily. It's impossible to say with any certainty what will happen.


Vigdor, Niel. "Weicker backs town man for seat in Senate." Greenwich Time 28 January, 2006.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Open Forum

What's happening around the state this weekend?

Simmons Evades Wiretapping Questions

Congressman Calls FISA Court Outdated

Congressman Rob Simmons (R-2nd District)gave what The Day calls a "partial defense" of the Administration's practice of spying on American citizens without obtaining warrants, in which he said that current laws don't meet the challenges of the war on terror:

“First and foremost, we have a problem,” Simmons said of the so-called FISA court, which was created in the 1970s. “Those were the days of rotary phones. Those were the days without the Internet. Those were the days of limited technology and a relatively stable opponent.

“Fast-forward to the post-9/11 period,” he said. “It's an era of cell phones, where terrorists and drug dealers will buy and use a phone for a week and throw it away and get another. It's an era of Blackberries and Internet computers and very, very rapid sophisticated communications operations, for which the FISA court really hasn't kept up to date.” (Mann)

However, Simmons stopped short of actually endorsing the controversial program:

Asked whether Bush's avoidance of the court was the right response, the congressman protested that it was “not a fair question” because it concerned a program “about which I have no specific knowledge.” (Mann)

Democratic challenger Joe Courtney dismissed Simmons's words:

“If the Bush administration or Rob Simmons thinks that FISA's not up to the challenges this country faces, then that needs to be brought back to Congress for ways to fix,” Courtney said. (Mann)

A lot of people I know are very troubled by the idea that our government is wiretapping citizens without obtaining warrants. Others think it's necessary to protect us from another 9-11 style attack. However, even if the latter is true (and it might be, I don't know) the warrants can be obtained retroactively. So why not do so? I still haven't heard a good answer from anyone about that.

Actually, Simmons's vague assertion that FISA is somehow outdated or operates by outdated rules is the closest anyone has come. But then why not fix it?

If Courtney can make Simmons's partial support for wiretapping a campaign issue, he may have a much better chance than in 2002, especially if this story keeps getting bigger, which it has threatened to do.

Can we be both safe and free? I wonder. If not, which would we rather have more of?


Mann, Ted. "Simmons Says FISA Court Is Lagging In War On Terror." The Day 27 January, 2006.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Malloy Proposes "Universal Access" to Health Care for Children

Plan Would Cost $35 Million, According to Campaign

Every Child Matters proposal (.pdf from Malloy campaign site)

Press release from Malloy campaign.

Dan Malloy, in what his campaign is calling the "first major policy proposal in the 2006 race for governor," has proposed extending the HUSKY program to all families and making insurance for children under HUSKY more affordable.

The Malloy plan achieves universal access for children under the age of 18 first by expanding on a statewide basis the Every Child Matters HUSKY outreach program that was first launched in Stamford in July 2001. This nationally recognized and award-winning program has successfully enrolled 2,254 HUSKY eligible children in Stamford by simply and effectively tapping into relationships public schools have with students and their families. In addition to the public school outreach, the Malloy plan will expand the scope to include pre-schools, neo-natal, family planning and daycare centers to enroll eligible children even before they reach kindergarten.

Second, the plan calls for a more affordable cost-sharing structure that is far more accessible to lower and middle income families than is currently the case. Malloy's Every Child Matters program works by taking advantage of the economies of scale realized by the HUSKY plan to leverage coverage for every child in the State.

Under the Malloy plan, a family of three making $50,000 would pay $75 per month for coverage for two children. Under the current plan it would cost that same family $442 per month. And the Malloy plan would eliminate co-pays for well-child check-ups or preventative care.

This program is expected to cost up to $35 million, of which the State could apply for and receive federal reimbursement of approximately 38% of the costs. The net cost of the program to the State would be approximately $21.4 million, or about 25% of what the State currently pays for medical care for its incarcerated population. (www.danmalloy.com)

Add this plan to the "Things it's Hard to be Against" file.

I don't have time to give this a thorough once-over, right now, but the cost (if accurate) isn't too terrible and the benefits seem obvious. I'd be interested to hear what people with more knowledge about health care than myself have to say.

Open Forum

Dan Malloy is set to announce some sort of "major policy proposal" today, according to a release from the campaign.

Democratic Congressional candidates look to tie Washington corruption scandals to incumbent Republicans in Connecticut.

Still no word on whether Sen. Lieberman will vote for Alito. Dodd has already said he'll vote no.

For those of you using Firefox, the blog may look a little... odd. Blogger is doing something, and it's apparently messing with Firefox.

What else is happening today?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Amann to Endorse Malloy?

The Malloy campaign has been putting out coy press releases about "a big endorsement" today at the Legislative Office Building.

The Day is suggesting that Speaker of the House Jim Amann, one of the most powerful Democrats in the state, will be doing the endorsing.

...I'm not sure why the Speaker would endorse anyone, frankly, but apparently he's going to. At least it's a bigger endorsement than an embittered former New Haven mayor, and may bode well for Malloy's support among other Democratic leaders.

The DeStefano campaign, in the meantime, is touting its union support. The UAW will be endorsing their candidate today, according to a press release from the campaign.

So what do these endorsements tell us that we didn't already know? Not much. Basically, it's going to be a close, exhausting, divisive, hard-fought race. Nothing could make Jodi Rell happier.

Update: This did happen. Amann suggested that Malloy was the more electable candidate.

GOP: Fix Campaign Finance Loopholes

CT News Junkie reports that Legislative Republicans have begun a push to remedy some of the problems with the landmark campaign finance reform bill passed last month (there's also an AP article here):

Republican state senators convened a press conference today and demanded legislation to close a loophole in Connecticut’s new campaign finance reform law. The loophole allows leadership PAC’s to make unlimited in-kind contributions to so-called clean candidates.
“We’re here today because when the bill was debated, there was widespread acknowledgment that it had serious flaws that would need to be addressed, and we’re calling on all the members of the General Assembly to keep the promise to make this reform real,” said state Sen. Andrew Roraback (R-Goshen). “Let’s make it real.” (Levine)

Republicans, of course, opposed the bill en masse in December, despite the fact that their party's leader, Gov. Jodi Rell, supported it. The Democrats were quick to point out their change of mind:

Senate Democrats issued a statement criticizing the Republicans for suggesting changes to a bill they had opposed last December.
Had Republicans supplied their votes last fall, perhaps the campaign finance bill would have had enough support last fall to pass without the leadership PAC loophole, said state Rep. Chris Caruso (D-Bridgeport), co-chairman of the Government Administration and Elections Committee. (Levine)

It is pretty interesting that the Republicans seem to have quickly come around, but perhaps they are just being realists. They have two choices: defy the governor and the Democrats and try to repeal the bill (good luck), or try to shame the Democrats into making the bill more fair to everyone. The second option is infinitely preferable, because the Republicans can, in the process, look like reformers while the Democrats are stuck trying to explain how the PAC loophole got in there in the first place.

Hopefully this will mean that the Republicans are actually willing to work with Democrats to make this bill better, and that both parties will buy into real campaign finance reform. The bill does need fixing. If the Republicans want to help fix it, so much the better.


Levine, Dan. "Republicans Press Campaign Finance Issue." CT News Junkie 25 January, 2006. URL: http://ctnewsjunkie.com/index.php/2006/01/24/

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Open Forum

Democrat Henry Genga won the special election for Melody Currey's state rep. seat in East Hartford yesterday. No surprises there.

There's a do-over today in Middletown, following the nullification of city council races due to voting machine error.

What else is happening today?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Malloy Capitalizes on Discontent with DeStefano

Dan Malloy has spent a lot of time in New Haven recently, chatting up Democrats in John DeStefano's backyard. Today, he scored the endorsement of former mayor John Daniels, who preceded DeStefano as mayor. The New Haven Independent was there for the endorsement and the denouncement by Daniels of the current state of his city:

"Those of us who live in New Haven know community-based policing no longer exists in New Haven," said Daniels. ...

Daniels continued, "Education is a patronage source here in the city of New Haven. As a result, our test scores are low, truancy in our schools is high, absenteeism is high. The drop-out rate is above the national average. All because there is no sense of the value of education."

By contrast, Daniels described Stamford as a land of clean government, improving schools, new jobs, and model community policing -- not to mention a Triple-A bond rating, compared to New Haven's recently lowered rating. (Bass)

Of course, all of those things were actually much worse when Daniels was mayor, but that's beside the point.

This isn't Malloy's first trip to New Haven. In December, he said he could win 43% of New Haven's vote, and has been courting anti-DeStefano Democrats ever since.

He may be wasting his time. It's unclear how much sway the anti-DeStefano crowd has in New Haven, but their support for Malloy won't change either the convention or the primary a whole heck of a lot. Also, Daniels's trashing of his own city seems petty and whiny. How many New Haven Democrats can he really carry with him to Malloy's column, after that?

Also, it isn't hard to find discontented Democrats in a city that has basically one effective party. Democrats are their own opposition, and the real contests happen on primary day. If Malloy can get the endorsement of Brookfield Republicans, then I'll be impressed.


Bass, Paul. "Daniels Decries State of City." New Haven Independent 23 January, 2006.

Transportation Focus Shifts to Central Connecticut


Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced Sunday that she will propose a new round of transportation improvement plans that include commuter train service in central Connecticut and improved rail and bus service.


Rell proposed commuter rail service with eight trains daily each way between New Haven, Hartford and Springfield to supply what she called a "natural job development corridor." Amtrak provides service from New Haven to Springfield, but it is not a commuter line.

The governor's commuter train proposal endorses a plan that has been studied and backed by several state and local officials in Connecticut and Massachusetts. (AP)

On a day like today, when I slipped and slid all the way from Enfield to Springfield, the thought of useful bus service or a nice train ride instead of the interstate is mighty tempting.

The public transportation system in central and northern parts of the state is a mess. The buses are too infrequent, and run on confusing schedules, and train service anywhere north and east of New Haven is a joke. Try getting from New London to Northampton on public transportation sometime. It isn't easy, and it costs a fortune.

The commuter rail idea isn't new, as the article says, but has been in the works for a long time. In fact, this is a plan that my town of Enfield has taken a great deal of interest in. Train stations would be built or revamped all along the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield corridor, including in Enfield and Newington to name a few. It's a great idea, and one long overdue.

The busway idea, as I have said before, is kind of stupid (should be a light rail line), but it's better than the nothing that currently exists.

Hartford County often takes a back seat, and rightfully so, to Fairfield County when transportation issues come up. But better public transportation in the Connecticut Valley will be good for the economy, good for commuters and good for the state as a whole. I'd like to see these projects move forward in the coming year. We need to do more than just talk about better transportation.

"Rell to propose 2nd transportation package." Associated Press 23 January, 2006.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

House-10: Special Election Monday

There will be a special election tomorrow (1/23) in House District 10, which covers much of East Hartford. The winner will serve the remainder of the term of Democrat Melody Currey, who was elected mayor of East Hartford in November.

The major party candidates are Democrat Henry Genga and Republican Stephanie Labanowski, both of whom currently serve on the town council. This race really hasn't made headlines, even in East Hartford, because it comes on a Monday in the dead of winter. Bad weather tomorrow will probably hold the turnout down even more.

One thing that's interesting about this sleepy race is the fact that the chairman of the state GOP has seen fit to involve himself in a spat between the candidates:

n a press release, Republican State Party Chairman George Gallo accused Town Councilman Henry J. Genga and his campaign of "several instances of intimidation and dirty political tricks" against Councilwoman Stephanie L. Labanowski, the Republican candidate, and her supporters. Some of the intimidation included "anonymous phone calls to the candidate and one veiled threat to a business owner," Gallo said.
Gallo said the state Republican Party will continue to support Labanowski and monitor the situation to report or prevent future incidents. Republicans did not provide further information about the incidents.

"It is shameful that something like this happens in today's world, but the sad fact is Henry Genga has nothing to say to the voters of East Hartford and Stephanie Labanowski is being heard by the people of her district," Gallo said in the press release. (Stuart)

Allegations of harassment and intimidation aside, the fact that Gallo got involved at all (especially in a district lost by the GOP candidate by more than 50 percentage points in 2004) suggests that the GOP may be more forceful in contesting races this year than they have been lately. Gallo has already proved himself to be a tough campaigner: he was Rowland's campaign manager in 2002 and helped defeat Alex Knopp in Norwalk this past November. Could the state Republican Party be showing some signs of life, after all?

That aside, history and demographics (Republicans are heavily outnumbered in the district) suggest that Genga will win handily, although special elections can get a little strange. I'll post results when I see them.


Stuart, Christine. Republicans cry 'dirty tricks'; Democrats say 'not us'." Journal-Inquirer 20 January, 2006.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Open Forum

Aldon posted a nice summary of the Ned Lamont Q&A yesterday--well worth checking out, much easier to follow than the actual conversation (which admittedly was tough to follow).

Republican SOTS candidate and president of the Registrars of Voters Association Richard Abbate wrote an opinion piece in the Courant about the possibility of getting new voting machines to comply with HAVA by this Election Day. If he or anyone else expects Susan Bysiewicz to do anything close to what he suggests, they should prepare to be disappointed.

A legislative committee is studying ways to relieve the property tax burden. There are a couple of interesting ideas in the article.

And lastly, CTKeith has suggested a technology upgrade for the site. While I don't think the design around here is too terrible, he had a point about the failure of the comment system and the difficult-to-follow conversation Wednesday night. Taking suggestions (note: I'd like to avoid Haloscan-style pop-up comment windows).

What else is happening?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Great Ideologically Correct Hope

"There are a lot of people who feel that 18 years is enough for a senator."
-Joe Lieberman, on the 1988 campaign trail. (Ravo)

They had found their savior at last. He was a wealthy Greenwich businessman, from a family with long-established political credentials and name recognition, but, most importantly, the hardcore party activists felt he was one of them.

Many of the party faithful couldn’t stand the incumbent senator. He had constantly infuriated and confounded them by going against his party in all-too-public ways, and had embarrassed them by running then abandoning a miserable failure of a presidential campaign two years earlier. State party leaders grumbled about his spotty campaigning in state for their candidates, and activists complained that he was ideologically out of step with the rest of the party. A national chorus began to grow for his removal among party stalwarts.

But the senator was “electable,” meaning that he had as much (if not more) support among independents and members of the opposite party than his own. The party couldn’t afford to lose his seat, not with so much on the line. So they unhappily settled in for another six years of misery.

But then, a man who seemed like the perfect primary opponent appeared, and everything changed. Party leaders rushed to his side. The grassroots went wild. Money flowed in. And why not? The party faithful could get rid of a constant irritation, and elect someone who knew what they wanted, and would support the party in Washington instead of working against it. Lines were drawn. A bitter primary battle was set, with the possibility of the incumbent running as an independent should he lose his party’s nomination.

The year was 1982, and Prescott Bush Jr., the brother of Vice President George H. W. Bush, had thrown his hat in the ring against the maverick Sen. Lowell Weicker, despised by many in his own party for his role in Watergate and his irritating tendency to publicly defy the party and the Reagan Administration (Madden 1981).

Bush raced out to an early lead following his announcement, and some polls showed him defeating both Weicker, who would presumably run as an independent, and Democrat Toby Moffett in a three-way race (Wessel). Conservative activists cheered him on, and notable Republican strategists signed on to his campaign.

However, Bush lost the convention 65-35, and soon thereafter dropped out of the race, citing the fact that Weicker was the more electable Republican. Later polls showed Bush badly trailing Moffett in a two-way race, while Weicker was about even with him (Madden 1982). Such was the importance of Weicker’s seat to Republicans that they dared not follow their hearts. Weicker went on to defeat Moffett, but the party’s right wing would have its revenge when it supported conservative Democrat Joe Lieberman against Weicker in 1988.

So what does this tell us about our current situation? The parallels are pretty obvious: the party’s ideological base and some state party leaders are lukewarm on the incumbent, but the possibility of losing a crucial seat to the other party and a possible independent run by the incumbent may give them pause.

There are plenty of differences, too. Unlike Mr. Lamont, Mr. Bush had plenty of national political experience (he worked on his brother’s campaign in 1980, had held state and local offices, and was the son of a U.S. Senator), and was already a well-known quantity in Connecticut. Bush also had more of a command of the issues than Mr. Lamont has thus far demonstrated, although he ducked Weicker's requests for a debate.

On the other hand, no Republican of Toby Moffett’s stature has yet stepped forward to challenge Sen. Lieberman, which makes the prospect of a close two-way general election remote. In fact, since 1988, Republicans have tended to put up inexperienced sacrificial lambs instead of more well-known challengers against Lieberman and Dodd. There is no apparent rush to do anything differently this year. Therefore, the “electability” issue may very well pale before the prospect of Lieberman staying in office until at least 2012.

One thing that may work against Sen. Lieberman is the fact that, come January of next year, he will have been in office for eighteen years himself (Dodd has been in for longer, but is much more secure) and it’s looking more and more likely that the only real chance people will have for change is in the Democratic primary. Mr. Lamont may be able to take advantage of a desire for change among Democrats as well as their frustration with Sen. Lieberman.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bush bowed out of the senate race long before the primary, so we have no idea whether he actually would have defeated Sen. Weicker, although polls suggest that the race was close. What Bush’s challenge does prove is that an established senator seen as out of line with the party can actually be challenged with a degree of success.


"The Ear." The Washington Post (1974-Current file) Jan 10 1982: M1.

Madden, R. L. "Liking Weicker Wasn't as Important as Needing Him." New York Times (1857-Current file) Aug 1 1982: E6.

Madden, R.L. "Prescott Bush Senate Bid seen Set." New York Times (1857-Current file) Sep 20 1981: CN22.

Ravo, Nick. “In the Heat of the Summer, Senate Race Hits a Lull.” New York Times July 10 1988.

Wessel, B. "Bush could Win in a 3-Way Race for U.S. Senate." New York Times (1857-Current file) Feb 21 1982: CN14.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Ned Lamont Q&A

This post is for all conversation with prospective candidate Ned Lamont of Greenwich. The question and answer session will begin at 7:00.

Please remember to refresh your browser window frequently to be able to see new questions.

Welcome, Mr. Lamont, and thank you for taking time to talk with us today.

New Poll/Upcoming Event

I am pleased to announce that Ned Lamont of Greenwich will be taking your questions on this blog tonight from 7:00pm to 8:00pm.

The format, for those of you who are new, is as follows:

The candidate will be asked questions in the comment section of a post I will set up beforehand. The candidate will provide responses. Simple. It happens in real-time, so the answers are as impromptu as they can be in this format.

Ground Rules:

The candidate is our guest, and we should treat him/her as such. Be courteous. Ask relevant, answerable questions instead of just yelling or name-calling. This doesn't mean you can't ask tough questions (please do!), only that you should make every attempt to stay within the bounds of decorum. I'll delete posts that clearly go over the line.

No staffers from opposing campaigns (in this case, probably not a big deal. Are there any Lieberman staffers here?).

That's it. Be nice. No staffers from opposing campaigns.

For evidence of how this has worked in the past, click here.

If you know you aren't going to be around and really want to ask a question, post your question for Mr. Lamont here and I will ask it with your username attached.

Also, there are two new polls on the sidebar about Ned Lamont's Senate possibilities.

Open Forum

Lots of interesting stuff going on.

Ned Lamont held a meet-and-greet last night in Hartford. CT News Junkie was there, as was a distinctly unfriendly Mayor Eddie Perez.

In non-Lamont news, John Larson has a Republican challenger. Poor guy.

Sen. Tom Colapietro, whose 31st district is on our list of legislative races to watch, will probably have the same challenger as he did in 2004, when he won his race by only about 5%.

And sadly, the Winchester plant in New Haven announced that it was closing. Another little piece of our history slips away...

What else is happening today?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Six Questions for Ned Lamont

The following are the responses to questions I sent to Ned Lamont of Greenwich, a prospective Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, on 1/13/2005. I hope that a question and answer session with Mr. Lamont will follow shortly, and I will post more information on that when I confirm it. My questions are in bold, Mr. Lamont's answers are in regular type.

1. For our readers who don't know much about you, please introduce yourself. What's your background? What experience do you have in politics and government?

While I have spent some time in and around politics, at heart I am an outsider to the political process. I have covered local government as a journalist ( a local weekly in Vermont), served as a selectman (Greenwich’s lonely Democratic selectman), member of the board of finance, Chair of the CT State Investment Advisory Council (under Weicker), as well as being an active policy wonk with the Brookings Institution. The other 80% of my time I have built and operated a telecommunications company which primarily delivers international, educational, and entertainment video services to college campuses.

2. What specific policy differences do you have with Senator Lieberman (including and beyond the war)? In short, why should Democrats vote for you instead of him, should you run?

I believe that we as the Democratic party should and I as a senator would push back against some terrible policies, starting with the wrong headed invasion of Iraq and ill-advised tax cuts, and stand up forcefully for a Democratic agenda, which includes healthcare reform, education reform, and energy conservation. The Senator can speak for himself; I would oppose the nomination of Judge Alito since he jeopardizes a woman’s right to choose, I would oppose education vouchers since they undermine our commitment to our public school system, I would have strongly opposed federal intervention in the Terri Shiavo case, I would have pushed for energy conservation and bio fuels as a better alternative than the liquefied natural gas plant in LI Sound; I would oppose diverting social security taxes into private accounts, and I would replace American troops on the front lines in Iraq with Iraqi troops as the first step towards bringing our troops home.

3. You've mentioned health care as a priority. As a businessman, why would you support universal health care? Would you favor a Canadian-style system, or something different?

Sometimes Washington politics seems to be all Iraq all the time, and the important policy prescriptions we need to better compete in the future are moved to the back burner. Healthcare premiums in Connecticut are up about 56% over the last five years while wages are up about 14%; America pays about 50% more per capita in healthcare costs than our international competitors; our employer based healthcare system is putting more and more of the cost upon the employee; healthcare costs are eating up more and more of the federal and state budgets. Our country has to move towards fundamental healthcare reform which makes affordable, universal coverage a right for all citizens, with a funding mechanism that reduces the cost to employers who are trying to compete worldwide and keep good paying jobs in this country (that’s one reason business folks in this country want healthcare reform back on the American agenda).

4. What level of support have you received from Democrats and ordinary citizens? Have you received pledges of support from local, state or national Democrats or other political figures?

The support at the local, grass roots level has been overwhelming; the support from the Democratic establishment has been wait and see.

5. Several political observers have said that winning a primary against Lieberman is impossible. Given his huge fundraising advantage, and his generally good numbers, how do you plan on defeating him?

Yes, defeating an entrenched incumbent is very, very tough in this country, but nobody deserves a free pass. I prefer races that focus on the substantive issues and there are real differences between my stands and those of Senator Lieberman and the Bush administration. We need some new blood in Congress, not afraid to challenge the status quo and the culture of corruption (and more than willing to stand up against- not cozy up to- some Republican policies which will have devastating long term consequences for this country).

6. When do you plan on making your intentions known?

I am trying to meet as many folks as I can over the next few weeks to gauge whether they share my outrage over the pork ridden bridge to nowhere and the endless war to nowhere and, if they do, I’m in.


One year ago today, I put up the first post on this blog. Now, one year and 430 posts later, I have to say that this site has become a lot more than I ever imagined it would, and it's taken me places I never thought I'd be.

Thanks to loyal readers, commenters both regular and infrequent, anonymice and everyone else who has contributed to making this site what it is today. This place has become more than just a blog--it's a forum and a community, too.

There's a lot to look forward to in the coming year, including more candidate interviews, more live Q&A sessions with candidates and other political figures and, of course, as much political and election analysis and commentary as you can stand (and then some).

So thanks again, everyone, for such a great first year, and here's to the next one!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Civil Rights in Connecticut

This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, let's take a moment to reflect on the history of civil rights and the struggle for equality in Connecticut.

I can remember walking through an ancient cemetary in Windsor, one of the oldest burying grounds in the state, and finding two old and neglected markers near the edge, far away from most of the others buried there. Each gave a first name, followed by the word "Slave." That's where we started, even here. Slavery was finally completely outlawed in Connecticut in 1848, but that doesn't change the fact that there were, in fact, slaves here for a long time. Indeed, slaves were among the earliest residents of the Connecticut colony; the first mention of them occurs in 1639.

New London was a major point of departure for slave ships in the 18th Century, but in 1840 it became the scene of the Amistad trial, in which Africans who had been captured by the Spanish and had siezed control of their transport vessel were eventually allowed to go free. It was a major turning point in the abolitionist movement, which had many notable figures from Connecticut.

Vibrant African-American communities existed all over the state, but especially in the cities, as this page of exhibits from the Hartford Black History Project shows. One of the more interesting customs of Connecticut slaves and then of the manumitted black community was the election of the "Black Governor." A lot of light has recently been shed on this practice, which died out in the 19th Century.

Black volunteers formed the Connecticut 29th and 30th Regiments during the Civil War. They served in Virginia and Texas during the last two years of the war. Following the Civil War and the passage of the 14th and 15th Amendments, black men eventually received the vote.

The clout of minority communities grew as their population increased, but the road to real political parity was a long, hard slog, as this timeline of civil rights laws shows. At times during the 20th century, frustration at the glacial pace of change boiled over into racial violence in the cities. This happened especially in the tumult of the late 1960s.

Some major steps forward were made, however. Connecticut did contribute to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. Dr. King himself came to Hartford in 1959, where he delievered a speech that may be an earlier version of his later "I Have a Dream" speech. During this time more members of previously disenfranchised groups worked their way to high office. Abraham Ribicoff and Ella Grasso are excellent examples of this. Cities like Hartford began to see their first nonwhite mayors, and nonwhites were elected to Congress and the General Assembly. The landmark Sheff .v O'Neill decision of 1996 ruled as unconstitutional the de facto segregation of urban nonwhites from suburban whites, although little has been done to remedy this situation. Recently Connecticut took another step towards guaranteeing equal rights for all by passing a law granting civil unions to gay couples, which many see as a step towards full marriage.

We still have a long way to go. Poverty, crime and failing schools, issues all too often ignored by the state and federal governments, are mammoth problems for minority communities all across the country. So today, the day when we remember a great American hero, we all ought to reflect on what we can do to advance the mission of equality and justice for everyone.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Open Forum

Sorry for the glacial pace of posts... it's been a very busy week.

Rell's ethics counsel has been identified as the one who recommended a gubernatorial aide (who was later rejected for lying on his application) for a position in the ethics director's office, although apparently she denied ever having done so. Yeesh.

Sens. Lieberman and Dodd still aren't sure how they'll vote on Alito.

An upcoming event to watch for is a live question and answer session with prospective Senate candidate Ned Lamont on this site, which will hopefully happen sometime in the next week. I'll let you know when I have more details.

What else is happening today?

Friday, January 13, 2006

Newton: Turns Out it was Much Worse

Remember this?

"I have been the Moses of my people and all I've ever asked for is to let justice be served." (Sen. Ernest Newton, 9/16/05)

Newton also placed blame on racists, the FBI and the media during his bizarre resignation speech, but apparently that was the last in a series of very public falsehoods (he pleaded guilty to bribery charges a few days later). New evidence released by federal prosecutors suggests that Newton, far from being a saint or even just a petty criminal, was deeply involved in bribery and theft, among other things.

Prosecutors, preparing for Newton's sentencing, condemned his "warped conception of his status as an elected official," which they said apparently moved Newton to collect bribes even from the operators of social service agencies providing training and housing for his poor constituents.
When Newton learned that the FBI was closing in, the memo says, he started scheming how to escape arrest. In one of numerous conversations secretly recorded by the FBI, Newton suggested to Warren Godbolt, the operator of a Bridgeport jobs training agency who had paid $5,000 in bribes, that Godbolt should lie if questioned by the FBI. Newton said he would claim Godbolt was paying him for consulting services. (Mahony)

Newton still defies easy description. He took bribes, stole from his own campaign, encouraged others to lie for him and, when caught, accused his accusers of racism. But he was also a tireless advocate for the people of Bridgeport, one of the poorest cities in the country, and before this bribery scandal broke was well-known for speaking for the disenfranchised. It's as if there were two Ernest Newtons: Newton the hustler and Newton the saint.

Perhaps that's why the bribes he took were so small: it was a sad sort of attempt to reconcile the two warring sides of himself. But who can say? Newton himself doesn't even seem to understand it:

"I did some stuff I wasn't supposed to do, so I gotta reimburse it and then get it back the right way," Newton said on a wiretap. "I just wasn't thinking." (Mahony)

No, I suppose not.

Mahony, Edmund and Christopher Keating. "Newton's Venality `Knew Few Bounds'." Hartford Courant 13 January, 2006.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Quick Commentary

I'm stuck in a library science class all day today, but I wanted to get in a few quick comments about what's been happening.

I was surprised that Michele Jacklin joined the DeStefano campaign. I thought she'd resurface at another newspaper or maybe migrate online, but apparently not. Here's a quote we should expect to see a lot of in the next day or two:

While Rell has been basking in the glow of her poll ratings, DeStefano and Malloy have engaged in some juvenile sparring. DeStefano, who we can only assume is trying to bluff Malloy out of the race, had the audacity to wag his finger in Malloy's face and brag about his own "overwhelming re-election win" in New Haven two weeks ago.

Never mind that DeStafeno's toughest foe hailed from the Guilty Party and that Democrats outnumber every other party-affiliated voter in the Elm City by about a bazillion to one. The city hasn't elected anyone other than a Democratic mayor in 50 years.

To be sure, Malloy won re-election by a nose. But Republicans, in an effort to be rid of him, threw everything at him but the UBS office tower, including Rell, who made phone calls on behalf of the Republican candidate. To suggest, as DeStefeno did, that he's the stronger of the two because he won by a larger margin is preposterous.

DeStefano's candicacy is headed for trouble if he persists in taking us, and Malloy, for fools. (Jacklin, Michele. "How Solid is Rell's Support?" Hartford Courant 23 November, 2005.)

It sounds like she'll be doing research and policy for them. She probably ought to be handling press relations, but okay.

I've seen a lot of press releases today about the poll results. Here's the reaction so far:

DeStefano campaign: The poll shows we're still ahead.
Malloy campaign: The poll is meaningless.

I'm tempted to side with the Malloy folks, just because it is such a long time until the primary, but Malloy (despite doing well raising money) needs to get his name out there a little more.

The Rell campaign so far has been content to let the numbers speak for themselves. And why not? There's very little that's negative there.

Okay. Back to class with me.

Open Forum

What's happening around the state today?

DeStefano Leads Malloy in Poll

Rell Still Strong, Despite Scandal

A new Quinnipiac Poll released this morning gives us our first look at a probable Democratic primary between John DeStefano and Dan Malloy:

DeStefano: 36%
Malloy: 18%
DK/NA: 42%

The numbers at this point probably aren't telling us much beyond name recognition, but this should still be welcome news for a DeStefano campaign under fire for lackluster fundraising and campaign finance/ethics errors.

Rell's approval ratings remain strong at 78%, although the percentage of those who have favorable opinions of her has dropped to 67% from 74% last April. Apparently no one is really paying attention to the Moody scandal, at least not enough to adversely affect her numbers in any significant way.

Rell continues to crush all comers, defeating both DeStefano and Malloy in hypothetical matchups by wide margins.

State residents chose the economy as the most important issue facing them, with taxes not far behind.

Quinnipiac Poll January 12, 2006

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Ned Lamont Interview

Anyone else catch the interview with Ned Lamont on WTIC?

He seemed a little unsure of himself in the beginning, but finished strong, I thought. His major issues are the war (obviously) and health care. He is thinking running mainly to give people a choice. He said something that I thought was very accurate, that incumbents around the country get a "free pass" too many times, and that challenges were good for democracy.

He said he'd make up his mind within the next thirty days. He probably ought to make it up sooner than that if he wants to start raising money. We'll see where this goes.

Lieberman May Run as Independent if Defeated in Primary

From the Waterbury Republican-American:

He then added, in response to a question, that if he were to lose a primary he would still seek re-election.

"I intend to be on the ballot in November," he declared. (Krechevsky)

...Well, given that he's stronger among Republicans and independents than Democrats, that isn't surprising.

ConnecticutBlog, My Left Nutmeg and Daily Kos all seem to think this points to Lieberman's fear that he could, in fact, lose the primary.

But how likely is it that he could lose? A Dkos commenter pointed to Larson's loss in 1994 as proof that party-backed candidates could be defeated by grassroots liberal organizing. In fact, Lamont (if it's him) would be going after essentially the same voters as Curry did.

Still, Larson wasn't particularly popular, and Curry had been running for more than a year before the primary that year. Lamont would be starting from zero against a well-known, apparently well-liked incumbent five months before the convention, and eight months before the primary. The odds are not good.

That isn't to say Lamont shouldn't run. He should. I don't agree with Scott McLean from Quinnipiac that it's hopeless to run against Lieberman. A significant minority of Democrats want an alternative to Lieberman, and dedicated minorities can, in fact, win primaries. Bad starting odds don't an impossible race make.


Krechevsky, David. "Lieberman says he's ready to fight for Senate seat." Waterbury Republican-American 11 January, 2006.

Quinnipiac Poll: Lieberman Still in Good Position

Dem Challenger Would Face Uphill Climb

A Quinnipiac poll released this morning shows Joe Lieberman still in good position to win re-election, but his support among Democrats seems to be slipping. Here are some useful numbers:

Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Joseph Lieberman is handling his job as United States Senator?

Democrats (Total)
Yes: 55% (62%)
No: 29% (24%)

Q. Looking ahead to the 2006 election for United States Senator, do you feel that Joseph Lieberman deserves to be reelected, or do you feel that he does not deserve to be reelected?

Democrats (Total)
Yes: 59% (64%)
No: 29% (24%)

Q. Would you like to see the Democrats nominate Joseph Lieberman for United States Senator or would you rather see the Democrats nominate someone else?

Democrats (Total)
Lieberman: 52% (57%)
Someone Else: 39% (33%)

Lieberman only has a 50% favorable rating among Democrats, and only 53% approve of him overall. These are his weakest numbers. However, in a hypothetical matchup with Lowell Weicker (the poll was conducted before the Ned Lamont rumors began to circulate), Lieberman would win 65-21.

In thinking of a probable Democratic primary, 35% of Democrats say they would vote against Lieberman because of his stance on the war. 33% of Democrats disagree, but would vote for Lieberman anyway.

This poll shows what we already knew, that a vocal minority of the Democratic Party wants to replace Joe Lieberman because of his support for the Bush Administration. Whether this minority can become a majority of primary voters is unclear, at best. The poll also shows that a single-note candidacy focused exclusively on the war may not be viable, but the fact that 68% of Democrats don’t agree with Lieberman’s position on the war is very interesting.

What this means for Ned Lamont, should he run, is that he would have a solid base of support on which to run. Expanding that base will be a challenge, however, and probably can’t be done by focusing exclusively on the war.

Quinnipiac Poll January 11, 2006

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Rell Starts Strong in Money Race

Malloy Continues to Outraise DeStefano

Gubernatorial candidates today announced their fundraising numbers for the fourth quarter of 2005. Here are the numbers:

Rell: $896,748 (includes about $11,000 in in-kind contributions)
Malloy: $477,034
DeStefano: $251,063

Rell did pretty well, considering her late start and strict, self-imposed fundraising rules. Her numbers aren't reminding anyone of Rowland's fundraising prowess, but any questions about her ability to raise enough money should be dispelled. The Rell campaign reported today that more than 2,000 individual donors contribute. 45% of those were small donors, contributing less than $100 each.

The Malloy campaign gleefully announced that they had outraised DeStefano for the second straight quarter:

"This is the third straight quarter that Dan Malloy has achieved significant increases in fundraising results," said Chris Cooney, Malloy's campaign manager. "By comparison, John DeStefano has just experienced his third consecutive decline in fundraising. In fact, having raised $477,000 Dan Malloy has beaten John DeStefano's best quarter." (Malloy press release: "Malloy Out-Raises DeStefano 2:1." 1/10/2006)

DeStefano certainly has a lot more money total, but Malloy, who was sidelined for nearly a year during an ethics investigation, is narrowing the gap. The DeStefano campaign is spinning the story as a victory (their press release pointed to the fact that they had more total money than any previous Democratic gubernatorial candidate), but the excuses are starting to ring hollow, especially following a month in which the DeStefano campaign seemed to stumble. CT News Junkie has an insightful piece on the DeStefano campaign's reaction to the fundraising numbers on their site.

Malloy, on the other hand, seems to be getting stronger all the time. He is moving to widen his appeal, his campaign is making few noticable mistakes, his numbers are up, and his rival seems to be falling flat. Democrats may start giving Malloy a second look following today's announcement.

It isn't time to stick a fork in DeStefano, yet. Another quarter like the last one, though, would be a major disaster for DeStefano heading into the convention.

The big winner here is Rell, however, who not only put to rest questions about her fundraising ability, but will continue to benefit from division among the Democrats. If not for the actions of Lisa Moody, the ongoing investigation of whom continues to taint Rell's fundraising operation, today would be a very big victory for her indeed.

Open Forum

Two big political stories in the Courant this morning:

Possible Foe For Joe answers some of our questions about Ned Lamont. Listen to WTIC-AM tomorrow a little after 4pm for an interview with Lamont on Bruce and Colin.

Rell Will Raise 800K shows that I was apparently wrong about some of Moody's motives. Rell was obviously doing fine raising money, which means that Moody wasn't under a ton of pressure, just stupid. Also, the Rell campaign is finally going to release the names of donors at the Marco Polo fundraiser.

Still no word from the DeStefano or Malloy campaigns about how much they've raised. We should hear in the next couple of days.

Update: The Malloy campaign is reporting that they have raised $477,034.

What else is happening today?

Monday, January 09, 2006

Malloy Wades Into National Politics

Stamford Mayor Calls for Caution on Alito

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy today issued a press release in which he reprinted a letter he sent to Senators Lieberman and Dodd outlining his concerns with Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.

The content of the letter is very detailed, and I will not reprint it here. I expect that the letter will be up on Malloy's site sooner or later. I will say that Malloy builds a strong case against Alito, expressing concerns about his record on civil rights, executive privilege and abortion rights.

Which is great. I don't like Alito, either. The question I have is what in the world does this have to do with either Stamford, of which Malloy is the mayor, or Connecticut, of which Malloy would like to be governor?

One of two things is going on, here. First, this is an attempt by Malloy to win over more liberal Connecticut Democrats by expressing a clear position on an issue they feel strongly about. It doesn't matter that this isn't a Connecticut issue. Malloy will become a little clearer and more acceptable in their minds for having taken this stand. Not a bad plan.

Second, he could be getting ready for a 2008 run against Rep. Christopher Shays, assuming Shays wins this year. Also not a bad plan, considering how the governor's race is likely to go.

In any case, speaking out on national politics can only help define Malloy to Democratic voters, almost all of whom will be more familiar with national issues than state ones.

Update: Here's the full release if you want to see it for yourself.

Candidate Blogs: January 2006

Well, the new year has arrived and the state of candidate blogs is not good.

The initial enthusiasm for candidate blogs has worn off a bit, and despite some hopeful signs that blogs may yet become a useful campaign tool, candidates are by and large placing blogs on the back burner.

By far the most active campaign blog in state politics right now is the DeStefano blog, which is usually updated regularly with campaign news, messages from the candidate and musings on policy from the blogmaster's point of view. The DeStefano blog hit a high point when it hosted a Town Hall Forum in August, which was an open question and answer session between the candidate and the public. These sorts of Q&A sessions, which have also happened with several candidates on this blog, are wonderful examples of what the flexible, versatile, interactive blog format can do for candidates.

Unfortunately, the DeStefano campaign never held another Town Hall Forum, despite the success of the first. Hopefully, as the campaign moves ahead towards the convention, they will have a few more of them. They are rare, valuable opportunities for members of the public to interact directly with candidates, and I believe that voters, especially younger ones, do appreciate that.

The DeStefano blog has also been distressingly quiet over the last week. Indeed, posting seemed to fall off considerably during December, although the holiday is to blame for some of that. I'm not sure whether this is a case of blog neglect or just a response to a slow period. The end result, however, is that I'm checking their site a lot less than I used to.

Other blogs in state seem stagnant, as well. Dan Malloy's blog, TalkCT, has never really matched the DeStefano blog's output. In a typical month, the Malloy blog is updated perhaps a dozen times. In November that output fell to only three posts. The Chris Murphy blog is rarely updated, and Gov. Rell's blog doesn't appear to be much more than an opening statement (without comments) for the time being. Most other candidates don't have blogs at this time.

Why are campaigns losing interest in blogs? The main reason probably has to do with the lack of any visible interest in them on the part of voters. A quick glance at the Malloy blog shows perhaps one or two comments for some posts, zero for most others. Not even the DeStefano blog gets a lot of comments, unless you count those that are rude or annoying (and even those seem to have dropped off). Campaign managers who see high site statistics and low blog comments might figure that the blog is not something that site visitors are interested in, and scale it back or shut it down altogether. This is the wrong conclusion.

It isn't that visitors don't care about blogs, it's that there often isn't much to comment about. The blog entries that I see can sometimes be good, interesting and provocative, but other times they just stick to the campaign line and parrot talking points. This isn't necessarily always a bad thing, since one of the functions of campaign blogs is to keep supporters informed and armed with the latest information, but it doesn't promote much discussion. Supporters reading the blog will usually agree, so why say anything? Detractors may say their piece, but probably not. Their energies are best spent elsewhere.

Candidate blogs are also usually written by staff. Again, not always a bad thing, but one of the great things about blogs is interactivity. DeStefano's Town Hall Forum shows that people do want to interact online, not with a staffer, but with the candidate. If a person says what he/she is thinking to a staffer, that person probably believes that the information won't get to the candidate. However, if someone is talking directly to a candidate, nothing is getting in the way. The experience is improved if the candidate actually responds, too. Open, unscripted dialogue like this is a refreshing break from the well-spun, tightly controlled world of campaigns and elections.

I am hopeful that, as the campaign starts to heat up, blogs don't disappear from candidate sites. It would be excellent if blogs, or something like them, can become the medium through which candidates are more freely able to interact with supporters and voters. For this to happen, though, campaigns should continue to give their blogs a chance, and keep working to improve them.

"With Intent to Annoy"

I just thought you should all know, just in case anyone here is a stoolie.

Perspective: Create an e-annoyance, go to jail

Apparently, it is now illegal to be irritating online without disclosing your real name:

"Whoever...utilizes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet... without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person...who receives the communications...shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."

I checked out the relevant U.S. code, and while I'm sure that this is really not what they meant (the code above is takes a lot of sections and combines them), it's pretty much what they did.

So watch out, anonymous posters! ...Of course, they do have to find you, first.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Open Forum

The flap over the DeStefano campaign's mixing of mayoral and campaign offices is still making the rounds on the AP wire. This doesn't amount to much by itself. Combined with other "mistakes," though...

There was an anti-illegal immigrant rally in Danbury this morning. Mayor Boughton, who has put pressure on the state and federal governments to address the problem of illegal immigration, distanced himself from the group:

"I think there is an element out there that can be racist in tone, that can project the very worst in human nature," Boughton told WTNH-TV. "I think that there are people that are involved in this particular rally that are doing that."

Jeff Jacobs is still pulling for the NHL to return. I've heard a lot of talk about Howard Baldwin and a new arena, but I'm not holding my breath. I've heard it all before.

What else is going on today?

Friday, January 06, 2006

Ned Lamont to Challenge Lieberman?

This off a Daily Kos diary...

...Help is on the way in the form of Ned Lamont. He has not formally announced yet, but he is laying the groundwork to run against Lieberman in the Democratic primary. I know you've never heard of Ned Lamont; but you are going to hear a lot about him in the coming months. He is a businessman from Greenwich, Connecticut.; a progressive Democrat who is anti-war, pro-privacy and civil liberties; with the moxie and the money to go head to head with holy Joe for the Democratic nomination for Senate in Connecticut.

There's more over at My Left Nutmeg.

Now, I don't know too much about Lamont, but the fact that he's a weathy, successful businessman (instead of a fringe candidate) suggests that he might be pose a serious threat to Lieberman.

For those hoping for a Lieberman-Weicker rematch, this could end it. If Lamont gets in, Weicker will probably bail out and support Lamont. He has said he'd run only if no other credible anti-war candidate entered the race.

Lamont would provide a candidacy that wasn't just one-note, and he wouldn't come with Weicker's baggage. He may actually have a better shot than Weicker at defeating Lieberman, especially since Weicker was probably going to run as an independent and not in the primary as a Democrat. The Democratic primary is the place where Lieberman could be defeated--not the general election.

We'll see if this guy is for real in the coming months, but I'm sure that anti-Lieberman activists are excited.

State May Lower Business Taxes

Corporate Surcharge May be Eliminated

Gov. Rell and legislative leaders are turning their focus away from social and political issues to economic ones. Among the proposals floating around is the elimination of the corporate surcharge:

House Speaker James Amann told about 500 business executives in Hartford that he would consider cutting or eliminating the corporate tax surcharge - a tax hike that has irked business leaders in recent years and is expected to generate $65 million to $70 million in 2006.
House Republican leader Robert Ward, R-Northford, agreed that the corporate surcharge should be reduced or eliminated.
"Gov. Rell proposed a phase-out of the corporate tax surcharge last year, but that proposal was rejected," said Judd Everhart, Rell's spokesman. "She is taking another serious look at the corporate tax this year because she believes it is a hindrance to economic development and jobs growth for Connecticut companies. Stimulating Connecticut's economy is her top priority." (Keating)

...It is? Since when?

Actually, it isn't surprising that Rell has turned her attention to economics, which is the area in which she is currently weakest. Will a corporate tax cut help the economy? Business leaders seem to think so. It will, they say, make Connecticut a more "business friendly" place.

If a corporate tax cut will help lure businesses to Connecticut, if the government can afford to lose that money, and if other major priorities like education and transportation aren't adversely affected...then why not? Republicans want to take it further, eliminating the gift and estate tax, although the connection to business and job growth there is less clear.

Other taxes may be on the block instead of this one.

Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said lawmakers should speak with economists and business leaders before deciding which taxes to cut.

"It makes sense to have some hearings and determine what would give us the biggest bang for the buck for Connecticut's economy," Williams said. (Keating)

This is probably smart. Whatever the final outcome, moving deliberately and heeding the advice of business leaders will hopefully lead to better economic times in Connecticut.


Keating, Christopher. "Corporate Tax Cuts On State's Table." Hartford Courant 6 January, 2006.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Courant Publishes Partial List of Donors at Controversial Fundraiser

According to this morning's Courant, many of the highest-ranking political appointees in the state attended the December 7th fundraiser at the heart of the Moody investigation. The Rell campaign has refused to release the full list of attendees on the grounds that because the money was returned, the list doesn't have to be made public.

Here are at least a few of those who attended:

The list includes at least 15 state agency heads, including the leaders of some of the biggest departments - such as Department of Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Yelmini, Public Works Commissioner James Fleming and Leonard Boyle, the former federal prosecutor who is Rell's commissioner of public safety.

Also attending were the leaders of some lesser-known agencies, including Richard Gray, executive director of the quasi-public Connecticut Health and Education Facilities Authority; and Marie O'Brien, president of the quasi-public Connecticut Development Authority.
In addition to Boyle, Yelmini, Fleming, Gray and O'Brien, the following heads of state agencies attended the event: Transportation Commissioner Stephen Korta; Motor Vehicles Commissioner Ralph Carpenter; Environmental Protection Commissioner Regina McCarthy; Labor Commissioner Shaun Cashman; Economic and Community Development Commissioner James Abromaitis; Insurance Commissioner Susan Cogswell; Consumer Protection Commissioner Edwin Rodriguez; Public Health Commissioner J. Robert Galvin; Robert Genuario, secretary of the Office of Policy and Management; and Jennifer Aniskovich, executive director of the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism. (Lender & Mahoney)

Ignoring for a moment the fact that at least a few of these people may have been invited by means less than legal, the list itself is worth thinking about. As the article mentions, it's unusual to have so many powerful people together at the same fundraiser. Why collect them all together at the same place at the same time, and so early in the campaign cycle?

I believe that the answer to both this question and the question of why Moody and these commissioners were willing to overlook state campaign laws as well as the governor's own rules has to do with the approaching fundraising deadline. Rell very badly wants to prove that her method of raising money is just as effective as the traditional methods employed by the two Democrats in the race. She needs to do as well as or better than DeStefano and Malloy for the last quarter, or else face questions about whether she really can raise enough money for the campaign. That question leads to other, more troublesome questions about her viability as a candidate, and the depth of support for her in the state. Therefore, Rell's campaign needed to raise a ton of money from individual donors, quickly.

State department heads, all of whom were either appointed or confirmed in their positions by Rell, are some of the most reliable sources of campaign cash for the governor. Moody knew this, and probably put pressure on them to attend and donate. It paid off. More than $50,000 was raised in one night from people who have a vested interest in keeping the governor happy.

The fact that Moody was willing to break her boss's rules (and possibly state law) to get as many people to this fundraiser as possible suggests that Rell's campaign is not raising enough money. We'll see soon enough when their fundraising totals are released, but I'm willing to bet that the final number isn't going to be impressive. They have plenty of excuses (late start, strict self-imposed rules) but those won't be enough to stave off the questions.

That just leaves the problem of why Rell's campaign isn't releasing the list of attendee names. They would have been public knowledge had the campaign not returned the money, and, more likely than not, almost all of those people turned around and donated the money again. A quick scan of the people who donated after the Moody scandal broke will give us a good idea of who was there. Perhaps the campaign doesn't want to add fuel to the fire. I can't blame them. The Moody investigation is going to be a thorn in their side for at least the next month--maybe longer.


Lender, Jon and Edmund Mahoney. "Top Tier Gave To Rell." Hartford Courant 5 January, 2006.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Open Forum

The Manchester Democratic Town Committee finally produced its long-awaited resolution on Joe Lieberman's Iraq stance. The full text of the resolution, with commentary, at My Left Nutmeg. I wouldn't be surprised if a few other DTCs passed similar resolutions in the coming months. Don't expect Lieberman to pay much attention to them, though.

Apparently, our budget surplus keeps growing. I'd like to see us pay down debts with at least some of that money.

Lisa Moody is back at work.

What else is happening around the state?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Amann: Legislature Should Stay Part Time

The legislature would be greatly improved by either becoming full-time or being paid at least double what they get now. I've said that before, and it's still true.

There are a lot of good reasons why either or both of those things should happen, including reducing potential conflicts of interest with a legislator's "day job," opening the legislature to people who aren't able to find jobs willing to let them spend half the year or more in Hartford instead of at work, increasing the amount of time legislators can spend studying bills and becoming better informed about the issues facing the state and eliminating the legislative deadline that forces so many bills to be passed without due consideration at the last minute.

House Speaker Jim Amann and others believe that the legislature ought to remain part-time, however:

"I got a couple people who complained about it, and quite frankly, I said, 'If you don't want to be a legislator, don't run. Period,' " said Amann, who works as a fundraiser for a nonprofit organization. "Being a legislator is a sacrifice. We're not up here to make money. We're not up here to fool around. We're up here to try to make a difference to people's lives. Everybody knows what they are getting into, but some people just can't adjust to it." (Coleman)

Yet this year, the legislature met during at least part of every month save January, August and September. As the people's business (especially the budget) becomes more and more complicated and varied, the legislature will edge further towards full-time anyway.

This is a historical trend. Here is a passage from Judge Robert Satter's excellent guide to the Connecticut legislature, Under the Gold Dome, describing the legislature before the state Constitution was changed in 1965:

The legislature met biennially--for five months (from January until June), in the odd-numbered years only--and then went home. Even during the year it convened infrequently, doing most of its legislating in the last few days, often in the hectic closing hours. It did nothing between sessions and rarely met in special session. (Satter)

The part-time legislature was intended for an earlier time, when legislative business was not so all-consuming and pressing. The demands of a modern, complex, cosmopolitan state like Connecticut have already required the legislature to meet in at least one special session for the past four years.

The "citizen legislature" is a democratic ideal, but it isn't a realistic one anymore. It will be a shame to lose some of the "real world" experience that comes from having a day job, but the advantages of a full-time, professional legislature far outweigh that loss.


Coleman, Tobin. "Legislature weighs becoming full time." Stamford Advocate 3 January, 2006.

Satter, Robert. Under the Gold Dome. Connecticut Conference of Municipalities: New Haven, 2004.

Monday, January 02, 2006

2006 Legislative Session: Priorities

There's more than a month before the start of the short 2006 legislative session, but Democrats and Republicans are starting to focus on their priorities for this election year:

Preliminarily, Amann said, the Democratic House caucus will be pushing for more money for after-school programs, more funding for transportation improvements, pro-business legislation and working toward health care coverage for all children, something Amann said might not be ready until next year.
Senate Minority Leader Louis DeLuca, R-Woodbury, said the GOP is still assembling its priorities, but he said Republicans are eager to act on a Program Review and Investigations Committee report on reforming the state's tax structure, and another task force report on Educational Cost Sharing grants to municipalities expected in the next month. (Coleman)

The focus for the coming year ought to be economic. Last year's focus was largely social and political, which resulted in landmark legislation for campaign finance and civil unions. With those issues behind us, the focus should shift to jobs and taxes.

I'd like to see the legislature focus on ways to relieve some of the property tax burden, which has driven municipalities to cut school funding and make poor development choices.

I'd also like to see the state start working towards improving transportation in Connecticut, especially in the bottleneck of Fairfield County.

Property tax reform and an investment in roads, trains and buses will help promote economic growth and smart development, but only if done wisely and creatively. This legislature has already shown us that it can do extraordinary things, when prodded. They should take that creativity and drive and apply it to issues that will make Connecticut economically stronger this session.


Coleman, Tobin. "Election-year politics hover over legislative session." Stamford Advocate 2 January, 2006.