Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Twenty Years in the Wilderness

It's been twenty years.

If you're a Democrat, you know what I mean. Twenty years have passed since your party last elected a governor (Bill O'Neill's re-election in 1986). You don't feel good about that.

If you're a Republican, you might know what that means, too. It's been twenty years since the Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate in Connecticut (they lost that brief control in 1986). Although the GOP managed to capture the Senate for a brief time in the 1990s, they haven't even come close to regaining the House.

So both parties wander the wilderness, seemingly stuck in forms set nearly two decades ago.

Why is this happening? For Democrats, who think they own this state, it must be especially frustrating. On a statewide level, Democrats can't lose. They've elected both senators since 1988 (it hasn't even been close), and their entire underticket of statewide officers almost always wins. They have a solid hold on two of the congressional districts, and control the legislature by a ridiculously wide margin. Why is it so hard for them to win the governor's office?

Well, lousy candidates, for one. Bruce Morrison, Bill Curry, Barbara Kennelly and Bill Curry again. That, and surprisingly strong candidates from the Republicans (or independents, in the case of Lowell Weicker), who tend to cede every other statewide race to the Democrats without a fight.

Secondly, the governor's race is the only statewide contest the Republicans will actually put up a fight for. It's as if they realize that holding the executive brance is all that's standing between them and complete irrelevance.

As for the fact that Republicans haven't done well in legislative elections for two decades, that isn't much of a mystery. Overall, the demographics in Connecticut favor what the Democratic Party is right now, and the Republicans have been so terrible at supporting candidates who aren't running for Congress or for governor that change seems unlikely.

I suspect, however, that what's really behind a lot of this twenty-year stretch of futility is inertia. Voters vote for incumbents, by and large. They gave Rowland three terms, for crying out loud! Neither party has given voters a compelling reason to change their voting habits in a long time, because neither party is coherent, focused or strong enough to do so. Things can change on a candidate-by-candidate basis, if a challenger is extraordinary and takes advantage of a favorable situation. But overall, inertia seems to be carrying us onwards into more of the same.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good analysis of the politics of CT for the last 20 years...I would add that it is important to remember that voter reg in this state is overwhelmingly "D"...the Governor's race is one that people learn about and make an educated vote so a good candidate (with a good campaign strategy)can overcome the amount of "D" registered voters...when a candidate has very little money or is no candidate at all (i.e. Bob Backlund, Jack Orchulli-(I guess Orchulli wasn't awful)) then it is impossible to overcome the voter reg. #'s.

Remember----Republicans usually (not always) win on ideas, while Democrats usually (not always) win on built in voter registration #'s

And I say that last comment not as a huge R (which I am not), but on my interpretation of CT politics...the Dem's just haven't stood for anything in a long long time

Anonymous said...

It's not too smart for Republicans to focus on one seat and allow the Democrats to run the rest of the table. Can Aunti Jodi sweep some more of them in?

Anonymous said...

There's been a lot of banter about Orchulli on this blog of late.

Could someone just bite the bullet and start WWW.DRAFTORCHULLI.COM ?

Anonymous said...

Unless you're some liberal yahoo like a Lamont or Teddy "wanna go for a swim" Kennedy, these type of blogs really don't like successful business people like Jack Orchulli. Jack probably leaves more in tips that his detractors make in a lifetime yet they would like us to believe he is some kind of a dope.

bluecoat said...

Oh come on now, here is the latest on the race for governor from the Demsas well as the latest on the race for the US Senate from the GOP. As for Orchulli, I'm glad he leaves go tips because i have lots of friends in the restaraunt businees and they could use the dough but I listened to hin last time around and all he did was read from Karl Rove's playbook with the notable exception of his promise to deliver marine One to CT.

Anonymous said...

Blame the stupid Democratic political operatives like Roy ( braindead ) O for giving us such terrible candidates over the last 20 years. The truth is that the Dem congressional delagation and constitutional officers do or have done business with Rowland,weicker and now rell and do not want to share power with a Democratic Governor, so that is why they only offer minimal help to the candidate.

Additionally the political operatives make money from bringing their candidates around...Roy O is making a fortune off of DLC DAN and in reality if he wasnt doing this he couldnt be a dishwasher in a restaurant.

Thirdly because of so little democratic movement among the office holders, you are virtually guanteeing more than 2 folks who would want to be Governor at any one time...thus making primarys a possibility whereas the Reps seem to " clear the decks" better than us.

Anonymous said...

why are so many people (or maybe is it only one person???) obsessed with roy on this thing??

Anonymous said...

This long history of losing democratic gubernatorial candidates started in 1990, which was a strange year, a three-way race with an independent winning. Bruce Morrison forced the incumbent democratic governor, Bill O'Neill, to step aside so he could run, then, to get back at Morrison, O'Neill made Bill Cibes run a primary against him. So big surprise, Morrison loses BAD in 1990.

Then in 1994, it was another weird year -- a 4 or 5 way race with an independent woman (Groerk) getting like 15% or something of the vote and a crazy conservative (Tom Scott) who got a bunch of votes too, and you ended up with Rowland winning but only with like 40% of the vote. Then the power of incumbency took over and he just stayed there.

So I'm not sure its fair to assume that the democratic candidates or their managers were just incompetent, there was a lot of other strange stuff going on in these races and then the big liar (Rowland) just became unbeatable.

turfgrrl said...

I think it has much to do with the CT dems being risk adverse and conservative on how campaigns are run and the republicans to being more liberal and risk taking in how campaigns are being run. Each candidate from either side influences this basic tendency, but in general this holds true. A republican campaign lit piece is filled with extreme over the top colorful and often wrong assertions. A democratic campaign piece is filled with tired safe and boring rarely wrong assertions. I think Bill Clinton said it much better though, and I'll paraphrase, it's better to be strong and wrong than right and weak.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, what are all you guys talking about...Roy's da man! He's been involved in so many top races:
Curry '94, Curry '98, Curry '02...oh, wait, bad examples. Lieberman '06, Malloy '06, Rell '08....

Zigar said...

I don't mean to get you all off-topic, but has there been any word on Ciotto running again this year?

Weicker Liker said...

Jack Orchulli still owes his Senate Campaign From 2004 about a million dollars.

People do not like Greenwich Millionaires, unless your name is Lowell Weicker.

Orchulli was aweful and just an empty suit.

bluecoat said...

Here Bush in today's Assocaited Press defending his decision on Iraq but also defending his decision to keeep on Rumsfeld, who many have had no confidence in for som time, saying"I don't believe he should resign. He's done a fine job. Every war plan looks good on paper until you meet the enemy," but the next part of that is that Rumsfeld along with Tommy franks had horribly failed to adapt when they found out that the fight would not be as planned.
This is the type of crap the GOP is sick of. He keeps defending himself instead of taliking about where we are headed. The military does know but Dick Cheney and rumsfeld have yet to clue in the spokesman for their triumvorate.

Zigar said...

Weicker--

Learn to read more closely--Orchulli's campaign owes HIM about a million. Apparently he gave his cash as a loan, not as a contribution.

You got me all excited.

Weicker Liker said...

That is what I meant to say, Zigar.
I knew it was a loan. Just wrote it quickly.

Orchulli made a huge blunder in loaning his campaign that much money.

bluecoat said...

Senator Kennedy is entirely to liberal for me on entitlements, labor and a few other things but what is wrong with this prescription for what to do next in Iraq that makes a hell of a lot more sense to me than what I've heard from Ned "the cable guy" Lamont?

And Orchulli, the businessman who had his product made overseas, made a financial blunder?

bluecoat said...

In announcing the increase in the size of the NYPD by former Democrat turned Republican Mayor Bloomberg the New York Times today reported that in addition to the increase in uniformed officers that The civilian employees will take over duties now performed by uniformed officers, freeing them for reassignment on patrols, so the expansion will result in a net increase of 1,200 officers available for patrol duties. Gee, I wonder if the Trooper Union would oppose such an innovative approach to better protec the public in the state of CT.

And while the Sultan of Dubai may not be oprating any terminals within our US ports anytime soon it looks like he may get a shot at sharing in the operating profits at our own Mohegan sun from theisNew York Post article today carried in many news outlets as well It's all because we are a debtor nation and we need outside caital, the UAE has absolutley no interst as a country in destroying us as they are our one of our creditors.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps folks see the track record of Democrat Governors with Democrat legislators in this part of the country (i.e. Dukakis, Florio, now Corzine) and choose to avoid statewide insolvency

turfgrrl said...

annonymous 7:06,

Same could be said for Republican legislatures and governor mashups. Checks and balances leads to good governance.

Anonymous said...

turfgrrl, there are no local examples of said in the past decade

bluecoat said...

Here is another example of analysis paralysis called the Congestion Mitigation System Plan - Vision 2020 done by the Southwest Regioanl Planning Agency to
The purpose of this study was to develop a strategic plan for reducing traffic congestion in Connecticut’s southwest corridor and improving mobility and access within the southwest corridor and with adjacent regions in the New York Metropolitan Area. For the purposes of this study, the southwest corridor was defined to include all of Fairfield County and the New Haven County cities/towns of Bethany, Branford, East Haven, Hamden, Meriden, Milford, New Haven, North Branford, North Haven, Orange, Wallingford, West Haven and Woodbridge.
The work is excellent but it has been largely ignored and I don't know how much we paid for it but we paid for it.

Anonymous said...

Orchulli is awful...

Anonymous said...

Orchulli is a political sociopath - an egotistical empty suit with no real ideas, just self-centered ambitions. Try dealing with him.