Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Courtney, Simmons Face Off

Take a look at this early article about the Simmons-Courtney debate, held Monday night in New London. Here is the upshot of the debate:
Courtney sought to tie Simmons to President Bush who has a low approval rating in eastern Connecticut.

"If you're satisfied with the direction that Rob Simmons and George Bush have taken this country over the last six years I'm probably not your candidate," he said. "If you believe as I do that we can move in a new and better direction then that change can begin right here at home and it begins with changing the congressman from this district."

Simmons shot back by saying his growing seniority in the House helps the congressional district, specifically efforts to increase military spending to benefit the submarine base in Groton.

"Now we're fighting for two Virginia class submarines. My committee in the Congress has authorized $400 million for this. Could you do this Joe?" he asked Courtney. "And if Joe goes to Congress next year do you think the Bush administration is going to help him with anything?"(AP)

Other, less fortunate candidates have tried to tie Rob Simmons to George W. Bush. Jim Sullivan had an ad where Simmons creepily morphed into George Bush in 2004. That didn't work, despite the overwhelming majority Kerry took in the 2nd District. It also didn't work the first time Courtney ran against Simmons, in 2002.

But maybe this is a different Simmons. The Journal-Inquirer ran this editorial the other day, wondering where Simmons had gone:
He was once omnipresent and peripatetic. But Rob Simmons sightings are increasingly rare, at least in locales where someone might ask him a hard question.

A few weeks ago, the Journal Inquirer offered to sponsor a debate between the 2nd District congressman and his opponent, Democrat Joe Courtney.

Courtney immediately said yes, contingent upon ground rules to be agreed upon by both campaigns.

Simmons' campaign gave a different response. The campaign manager didn't say no, but his reaction was negative. "We have a bunch of debates scheduled already," he said.

Maybe that was true then. Or he thought it was. But as of today, only three debates are scheduled.


Is Simmons really going to duck discussion and debate on the war, the president, health care, and the economy until November? Simmons is a seasoned politician and skilled debater. Is it in the voters' interests, or even his own, to hide in Dick Cheney's bunker? ("Has")

To be fair, Simmons addressed the war in Monday's debate, although he gave an answer that might not necessarily be what 2nd District voters want to hear.

The idea that Simmons is MIA in the northwestern part of the 2nd District is also interesting. Simmons may be hoping that increased support in New London County will save him from Courtney. It won't. Enfield is going to be the key town in this race, I think. Simmons won it in 2002 and 2004.

Courtney's going to win New London, Norwich, a handful of towns around UCONN (Mansfield, Willimantic, Ashford, Columbia and maybe Andover and a few others) and his hometown of Vernon. If he can take Enfield from Simmons, he wins the seat.

Simmons has been good about showing up in Enfield. If, as the J-I asserts, he's not been visible here lately, it could hurt him badly.

I'll be waiting for more articles on this debate to come out, and we'll be following the race closely here. I was once pretty sure Simmons had this one in the bag. Now? I can't call it either way.

"Has anyone seen this man?." Journal-Inquirer 15 September, 2006.

"Simmons, Courtney clash over change in Washington." Associated Press 18 September, 2006.


strikeforce said...

Well OK. But the JI sounds these days, at least editorially, as if it had been written in DailyKosland. It is agonizingly anti-Bush. Who isn't? Nothing wrong with that of course. At the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the Waterbury Republican American, which reads as if it had been hammered out in he White House basement. But really -- consider the source; Courtney is a Vernon homeboy. The JI is a Democrat paper. Did anyone expect a pro_simmons editorial?

Anonymous said...

what is with the J-I?

Simmons can fairly be accused of a lot of things, but inacessiblity and aloofness ain't among them.

Seems there's another agenda here other than the facts; perhaps they are trying be obnoxious to "be somebody" or they have simply decided that since Joe Courtney is a subscriber he would be a better congressman than someone who lives down in the NL Day's zone of circulation

Anonymous said...

so who won?

Paul Vance said...

I did not get a chance to see the debate, but from meeting Joe Courtney- I can honestly say he is one of the nicest, most decent people I have met in or out of politics. I do not know Rob Simmons, but I would be happy knowing that someone of Joe's ilk was in Congress.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to give the win to Simmons. He did a much better job of actually answering questions, whereas Courtney beat around the Bush (pun grossly intended). Both candidates took shots at each other, so they were pretty even in that category.

In terms of straight up debating, issues aside, Simmons definitely won. His campaign experienced showed last night. Courtney was fidgety, red-faced, and visibily unsettled all night. Not the kind of person I'd want to send to Congress.

BrassBoy said...

Paul, please...

You and I both know that being nice is hardly the best prerequisite for elective office. Take a look around Waterbury, how many people do you know who are nice and decent but you still wouldn't want them as head dog catcher, let alone a congressman or some other position.

I hope being nice as well as anti-Bush aren't the only qualifications that Joe Courtney is bringing to the table...

Anonymous said...

I thought the JI's Anyone Seen this Guy editorial was a very unfortunate piece for them. The JI would appear to be allowing their sour-grapes interfere with their reporting and editorials. They knew for a fact that Simmons and Courtney have been invited to a candidtate event in early October in Enfield that would be sponsored by an organization other than the Paper this time around.

Shame, Mr. Powell - Someone does have to tell it like it is... But that editorial on Saturday proved your organization is willing to play games with what is-is...

Paul Vance said...


You are correct 'nice' is not the most important qualification for voting someone into a position of authority. But in an arena filled with so many self serving and disingenuous people, it is refreshing (sad to say) to meet someone who is NICE. Joe has a record, so his qualifications and his political positions are certainly there for a voter's review and analysis. His being a nice guy is just, as they say, gravy.

Paul Vance said...

It is pretty clear (read the NY Times lately?) that the strategy from the DCCC is to turn congressional elections on a referendum on President Bush. That strategy is not exclusive to Connecticut or the 2nd.

MVD said...

I was there. Clearly, Courtney won the debate. He was clear on the issues, had a good command of the facts and delivered his points well. Simmons is out of steam, in my opinion. His closing remarks were particularly weak, as he tried to make the point that Courtney wouldn't get any favors from a Bush White House. This attempt really fizzled, I thought. He tried his "cut and run" line, but that didn't work too well either. Maybe deep inside he knows it's nonsense. Courtney has gotten stronger as a speaker over the months of this campaign. He seems pretty energized to me.

BrassBoy said...


That is fine. I just felt that Mr. Courtney's demeanor is an unecessary observation when there are so many other issues to be discussed. By all accounts Congressman Simmons is a well-regarded and genial man, as well as really funny. Ok, it sounds like both men aren't complete stiffs. So they've got that going for them, which is nice.

As for the strategy of the DCCC, I couldn't agree more. It should not surprise anyone that, rather than focus on local district issues, most Dem candidates are trying to make their races national ones. Witness the Dem candidate in the 5th, Chris Murphy, appearing at a senior home a few weeks ago with San Francisco ultra-liberal Nancy Pelosi. Thing is, I doubt most of those seniors had even heard of her.

Anonymous said...

Paul - Do you think it's working? I think voters are wising up to the fact that it doesnt hold that much water. The President doesn't have a vote in Congress, and Congressional folk aren't running for president. Last week when Gruntled_Republican posted the Simmons & Courtney ads there were several postings about Joe's ads saying there were facts to back up the claim that Rob Simmons is George Bush. I looked at the citations and references they listed at Joe's site and frankly think they couldn't be spinning any faster if they tried... The claim that they appear to be basing the Simmons=Bush campaign on is grounded with the number of times the President has "expressed an opinion" on Congress' votes to one particular Beltway publication. If the premise weren't misleading enough, it's not even based on Simmon's entire tenure in Congress, or even George Bush's tenure as President. The claim they're attempting to make, which I feel is coming unglued, is is based soley on the President's opinions in 2005 ALONE.

It's not even gotcha politics, it's Vegas smoke and mirros at best.

The more we see the Iranian president polluting our air in NYC the more people will realize the DCCCs efforts are poison.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't there, but I'm sure if I was, I would think Courtney won, because I am a liberal, anti-Bush Democrat.

Of course, if I were a COnservative, pro-Bush Republican, I would think Congressman Simmons won.

Paul Vance said...

Is the strategy working? I don't know, I guess we really won't know until the dust settles after election day and we see which party controls congress.

Nationally, I think that my party needs to improve on messaging. We need to tell people what we are for, not just what we are against. I do not think President Bush's adminstration has been a success, but as Democrats we need to explain to people why we would be better.

I have not followed the race in the 2nd closely (it is not my district), but I am confident that Joe Courtney is more than capable of communicating his vision with the voters.

Anonymous said...

I don't know who won the debate but I can tell you this much...those Courntey commercials at the ball game are just awful. Boarder line embarassing!!!

Anonymous said...

Murphy is push polling in Cheshire tonight with the same anti-Republican boilerplate talking points that Courtney was using.

MVD said...

I disagree about the Courtney ads..I think they are effective in hammnering home the point that Simmons supports Bush too much. At the debate, the Courtney people had those big foam fingers with Simmons #1. I thought it was a nice tie-in with the commercial, a good visual.