Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Connecticut Union of College Republicans Convention Update

The CUCR convention was this weekend. I am of course but a tiny cog in the immense war machine that is the CUCR, but here are some of the interesting things I noticed.

Governor Rell was the keynote speaker. Unfortunately, I missed her speech.

Rob Simmons was next up at the plate. Standard youth stump speech, I've heard most of it before from him. If people have never listened to him speak, he is very engaging, interesting, and lively. His answers to some questions are noteworthy. He's been to Iraq numerous times, but I think he realized he was preaching to the choir on the War and so he didn't have too too much to say. He responded to a question on illegal immigration, saying that the response he always gave to the question was: "It is illegal." He voted for HR 4437, as did Shays (who did not attend). He then went on to expound upon a common theme among the speakers, that the key is to strengthen the security of the borders, but that it was impossible to simply throw out 11 million people. He spoke on his role on the Veteran's Committee, and was proud of the general trend of growing support for veterans. He also spoke of his support for the commissioning of the new Virginia class submarines and in saving Groton.

Nancy Johnson once again re-affirmed my impression of her as an incredibly intelligent woman. She's been in Congress for a long while, but she is definitely worthy of the post. She sounded a similar, but softer, note on immigration; she did not vote for HR 4437. She talked more generally about the rights and responsibilities of the citizen, and the citizen's relationship to government. She praised the free market, and connected this to her health care plan. I think the drug benefit is a huge mess, but she really had me convinced as to its utility. I've definitely moved more towards support for it, or at least for the way she wrote it. Then she was whisked off to another event.

We were then herded into rooms, our colleges separated by District. Despite Trinity's location in the 1st District (is there a name against Larson yet?) we were placed in the 5th District. Most of the students at the Conference actually lived in the District that their school is located in (as their schools are mostly public) and by odd coincidence myself and the other Trinity representative also both live in the 5th.

It was very, very clear the Johnson is taking her campaign this year incredibly seriously. In 2004, her staffers and other party bigwigs referred to her race as somewhat of a joke - the question for Nancy was not whether she would win but by how much of a margin she could crush her opponent. This year is very different. The staffers we talked to made it clear that Murphy is an extremely able opponent, who has a very good chance. My opinion before was that Nancy was unbeatable - this meeting really put the fear of God into me, as it were. Much emphasis was placed on grassroots efforts.

Finally, Alan Schlesinger spoke. He is clearly rapidly gearing up his campaign - his campaign paraphenalia was available in abundance. I was extremely impressed by this man. He abandoned the lectern to speak directly to us; trying quite hard, and successfully, to turn his speech into a rally. Before his speech, I was ambivalent to his campaign, and might actually have been content to vote for Joe. He spoke extremely passionately on Medicare and Social Security reform - his plan for "Guaranteed Social Security" is already fairly well developed and actually quite savvy. Though he was speaking to a youth audience which naturally was quite amenable to his ideas on these reforms, Social Security and Medicare reform are clearly his big issues. He supports a guest worker program, but is fervently opposed to amnesty. He has by far the most conservative stance on the issue, as he supports mandating English proficiency for the guest workers after a period of five years.

He flat out stated that if Lamont ran as a Democrat and Lieberman as an Independent that he would almost certainly be able to win, drawing historical parallels similar to those drawn by GC here on the blog. He was also incidentally the only speaker to actually mention the blogosphere during his speech, saying that he gains some optimism based on the analysis of his campaign offered at the websites. He knows that he has to seize this one opportunity while Democrats are divided.

He is clearly a fiscal conservative. Aside from immigration, his ideas on social issues remain unclear. He will probably attempt to define himself as a social moderate. Again, an extremely impressive speaker, who seems that he is well on his way to establishing a solid campaign. Only time will tell.

All three candidates had very youthful staffers - a good majority of paid staff were under thirty. Alan's campaign seemed the most youth oriented.

22 comments:

Genghis Conn said...

Fascinating stuff, Quinn--especially the part about Nancy Johnson. I don't think Simmons or Shays are taking their respective opponents so seriously.

And Scott MacLean is the only GOP candidate opposing Larson, as far as I know.

disgruntled_republican said...

GC-

I was with Rob on Saturday before he headed to the CUCR Convention. Unfortunetly, I cannot talk about what was discussed but I can assure you, he takes his opponent VERY seriously.

nutz_in_yo_mouf said...

Dianne Farrell quoted on her own website accusing our troops of adiding terrorists.

"We have aided and abetted Al Qaida and terrorists."

Bitch.

disgruntled_republican said...

nutz-

I think you took that totally out of context. She did not say it abiout our troops, she is referring to the US policy on Iraq in general.

Note to fellow bloggers...my defense of Farrell in no way shows my support of her or her feelings on the subject...

bluecoat said...

DG: I read it and I agree Farrell isn't talking about the military but it is an extremely poor choice of words BUT no worse than those who have accused me of treason for speaking out against the Bush strategy in Iraq since the day he ordered the invasion. Now that two, three and four stars are speaking out at least that has stopped.

cgg said...

Also since no one else is saying it, perhaps you could critique Farell's views without calling her names.

TrueBlueCT said...

With a war going on, did any of these fine Republicans encourage you to enlist?

You wrote: {Simmons} has been to Iraq numerous times, but I think he realized he was preaching to the choir on the War and so he didn't have too too much to say.

What do you mean by "preaching to the choir"? That everyone is in agreement as to the Bush/Lieberman plan to "stay the course"?

bluecoat said...

BTW, Shays is taking Farrell very very seriously too but I'm not sure he is taking Schlesinger seriously!

middlesexist said...

If Nancy Johnson were taking her race seriously, she wouldn't have been the deciding vote in favor of George Bush's anti-Connecticut budget.

She seems to be running lots of negative ads, but I haven't heard her discuss much in the way of issues lately.

ctkeith said...

How did the Armed Forces Recruiters who were invited to this event do?

Quinn said...

I'm sure Mr. Simmons takes his race very seriously as well, however I did not talk with any of his staffers so I don't know details. I think that Johnson is much more concerned about her opponent, and Simmons is much more concerned about his unruly district.

I thought about taking "preaching to the choir" out. Probably not all of the students there were pro-war, even I am not totally convinced by the plan (or lack thereof) offered by the President. But, let's be honest, a group of young Republicans is going to be mostly in agreement with Simmons generally pro-war position.

Unfortunately, there were no armed forces recruiters present at the event, as you no doubt have already guessed. It was, after all, a private meeting. However, I am sure that if they had come they would not have been thrown out--obviously a significant part of the CUCR platform is getting recruiters back on college campuses. Next year, I'll make the suggestion that they be notified and invited to the event.

There were two student attendees who were veterans, one of whom served in the war. Their service was noted and applauded by Congressman Simmons during his speech.

disgruntled_republican said...

quinn-

He takes his opponent just as seriously as anyone...he has faced him once before and he wouldnt be running against Rob if he wasnt out to win. We all know the make-up of the 2CD is very Democrat...Rob may have told you that CD2 is the most Dem district held by a Republican.

I am active in his campaign and know many details but cam not able to air them at this time...thats where he was before your gig.

Wolcottboy said...

Quinn,

Very nice report. Did you hear anything from other delegates about Rell's speach? Did she stick around? Is there enthusiasum towards helping her campaign or like conversation about the Governor's race?

As for Murphy, he's a tough campaigner. He has beaten two long-time incumbents in the past (first a long-time Republican who was in office for many, many years) in the House 81st Dist, then a long-time State Rep. in an open-seat fight for the 16th Senate) and is held in high regard by constituents who meet him. Can he beat Johnson? Certainly. I can't comment on his campaigning style, but it is potent.

As for Shays, his staff isn't leaving anything to chance. They know the stakes and are working extremely hard. We've seen the recent articles.

TSCowperthwait said...

Has anyone announced that they are going to run against incumbent Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-4)?

middlesexist said...

No, tscowperthwait, Rosa DeLauro (who is from the third district, not the fourth -- the fourth is Chris Shays) doesn't have a Republican opponent. Larson's opponent, meanwhile, is a joke. I don't see either incumbent sweating too hard.

TSCowperthwait said...

Thanks, middlesexist. I actually know that but just made a typo. It happens.

BrassBoy said...

Murphy's win in the 16th Senatorial district was due more to the lackluster campaign by Ann Dandrow, especially in Waterbury. I was at an event where she approached a group of people to speak to one individual in particular. She did not even bother to take the time to introduce herself to the other people in the group (myself included). Some campaigner. It lead me to belive that she was a long-time state rep. largely because of the power of incumbency. Sometimes all it takes is one win and you have a seat for life.

As for Mr. Murphy, many people in his district see him as an opportunist and nothing more. He may get the rabid support of the left, but he is still largely an unknown even in the 16th.

middlesexist said...

You just have to look at Murphy's rather impressive career in Hartford to know he's no opportunist. A ham sandwich could be elected in the 16th Senate District if it ran as a Republican -- that Murphy won is a testament to his deep popularity among the voters. Now obviously the largest part of the 16th is in Southington, which isn't in the 5th Congressional, so his biggest supporters aren't going to be able to vote for him. But don't write him off --- did you see him on the front page of today's NY Times?

BrassBoy said...

A ham sandwich? The 16th isn't the equivalent of Hartford for a Dem mayoral hopeful. Nobody has ever accused Southington, Wolcott or Waterbury of being Republican strongholds.

There is no "deep support" for Mr. Murphy, just look at the lukewarm reception he gets from his own party in Waterbury, even after Paul Vance dropped out of the race in the 5th.

I'm curious to know what is considered an "impressive career in Hartford". Contributing to the nanny-state with the smoking ban?

Wolcottboy said...

Southington is exactly half of the 16th District. (49% of the vote count in 2004) Murphy won there and is most known there . Southington is not in the 5th CD.

Moving towards the west, Murphy is much less known. In fact, while Waterbury's bipartisan legislative delegation is considered very close, Murphy is often excludes himself as part of that delegation despite "representing" 1/3 of the city. He is only seen in Waterbury during campaign season.

If 2004's State Senate District only included the towns that currently are in CD-5, Sen. Murphy would have had a much closer race. In fact, he would have won by 12% points FEWER than he actually won by in 2004. In the 4-way race, Murphy would have earned only 54% of the vote against candidates he outpsent 20:1.

Clearly, his support isn't deep in votes and his commitment is opportunistic.

The Architect said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Architect said...

I was also present with a campaign staff for a brief while and was not terribly impressed.... there were about 25-30 students at the conference. One hopes if they hope to "provide votes, volunteers, and media" for Republican candidates, as their program says, they're gonna need more than 30 kids to do it.