Friday, September 08, 2006

Senate 20: Oliveira is "Running With Rell"

Part of an occasional series on challengers for seats in the General Assembly

Chris Oliveira (R) of Old Lyme is betting that his opponent, State Sen. Andrea Stillman (D-Waterford), won’t see him coming. Incumbents like Stillman who don’t often face stiff competition, he believes, are so disconnected and certain of their strength, that they are vulnerable to a strong challenge from committed candidates. Oliveira believes he has what it takes to defeat Stillman this year, and he has the fundraising numbers to prove it. Oliveira was one of the few challengers to outraise his or her incumbent opponent (Stillman raised $5,825, Oliveira raised $16,415—the two have similar amounts on hand) during the second quarter, and that has raised a few eyebrows around the state. I sat down with Oliveira last week in Middletown.

This is Oliveira’s first race, although he is hardly a political newcomer, having worked on Republican races since Ed Munster’s 1996 run for Congress. He became a member of the Old Lyme RTC in 1997, and became town chair in 2002. He was elected to the state central committee in 2003, and has been running races, mostly successfully, in southeastern Connecticut ever since.

"Common Sense"

Sen. Andrea Stillman is seeking her second term after winning by an overwhelming margin (22.6%) in 2004. But Oliveira believes that she can be defeated despite the advantages of incumbency, for two main reasons. Firstly, he says that she hasn't had much of a presence in many of the towns she represents outside of New London and Waterford, and is therefore disconnected from her constituents. He believes that she is so disconnected from the people in these towns that he described the contest there as "…not an incumbency race and more of an open seat."

Secondly, he claims she has a very thin record of accomplishment on which to run. He points to two of Stillman's major accomplishments, work on a human trafficking report and a proposed bill banning cell phones at gas stations as evidence. Human trafficking is almost entirely unknown in Connecticut, and the show "Mythbusters" actually debunked the idea that cell phones could cause dangerous situations at gas stations—a direct contradiction of Stillman's testimony.

Oliveira was so fed up that he and others started a PAC called "Common Sense CT," which was intended to, according to their initial press release, "…combat the tendency of the members of our state legislative [sic] to introduce or support legislation that either flies in the face of common sense, the will of the majority of their constituents, or both." The group had some success for a while in 2005, running radio ads against Democratic attempts to break the spending cap, joining in the fight to save the Sub Base and working successfully against Stillman's efforts to pass the ban on cell phones in gas stations, but folded shortly thereafter.

Cost of Living

Oliveira believes that many of the challenges facing the people of his district can be traced to the cost of living. He ties property taxes, the cost of education, the price of gas and home heating, health care and other problems to the overall increase in the cost of living, which he says is driving people and jobs out of southeastern Connecticut. To help remedy these problems, he wants to serve on the energy committee, sign on to proposals to reform the tax system, serve on the appropriations committee, find ways to get the state to shoulder more of the cost of education and, above all, help to "control the appetite for spending" in the legislature.

Running with Rell

He says that Governor Rell, along with his own frustration at what he considers to be the poor record of the incumbent senator, is largely responsible for his decision to actually run for office.

According to Oliveira, his run for office began last year, when he and other Republican town chairs met with the governor. Oliveira recalls that the governor encouraged the town chairs to “…go back to your district, get people to run or run yourselves.” Oliveira couldn’t find anyone in his district willing to face Stillman, so he decided to wait and see whether the political winds were right for a run. By April, the governor’s numbers hadn’t fallen and Rep. Rob Simmons was still doing well, so he decided that the time was right.

"If Rell wasn't running this year, I wouldn't be running," he admits. He also says that, instead of initially identifying himself as a Republican to people in the district, he says "I'm running with Gov. Rell." This usually prompts a positive response, he says.

He believes that Rell needs more support in the legislature, and that, with a little more balance, the governor could pick her battles more effectively. He does disagree with the governor on public financing of campaigns, saying that "I don't like the idea that taxpayer dollars will be given to candidates," but he does approve of the prohibition on certain kinds of money flowing into campaigns. He initially challenged Sen. Stillman to fund her campaign using only private donations instead of raising money through PACs and ad books. He himself began his fundraising that way, but abandoned the effort when it became clear that Stillman wasn't going to bite.

Focus of the Campaign

Oliveira says that the three main themes of his campaign are: "I am passionate and have energy: if you elect me, you'll see me working." Secondly, "I am focused on issues that matter, like cost of living," and lastly, "My opponent is not [focused on these issues] – she has the typical "incumbency disease."

Oliveira is a smart tactical thinker with a good line, and his focus on Rell seems wise in 2006. Whether or not Rell will help him, or anyone else, get to Hartford in 2007 is another story.

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bluecoat said...

Rell, DeStefano sparring over debates
By Keith M. Phaneuf, Journal Inquirer 09/08/2006
but my experience is that the sponsors like to determine who to invite such as the way Shays and farrell agreed to debates in the 4th CD.

Senate Panel to Issue Iraq Intel Report

Anonymous said...

So much for "under the radar."

TrueBlueCT said...

Oh lord. Not another Republican who wants to pull the ladder up behind him.

Check out Todd's bio. No doubt he, and his parents before him, took advantage of every benefit that government had to offer.

But now with a little money in their pockets, the Oliveiras decide to side with the rich against the poor. For shame, for shame.

TrueBlueCT said...

That being said, Oliveira seems very bright, energetic, and internet savvy. His website is well above average, and his positions on health care and property tax reform seem similar to DeStefano's.

Did Stillman really put forward that "no cell phones at gas stations" legislation? Hard to believe anyone could be so hair-brained.

bluecoat said...

this is big:::Lamont Criticizes Lieberman’s 1998 Rebuke of Clinton Over Affair

bluecoat said...

Olievera saysOne of the many solutions involves passing comprehensive medical malpractice reform in order to keep our doctors in Connecticut and that's JDS's opinion too according to TBCT; malpractice reform was paased by the legislature and signed into law by Rell but the docs don't like it becasue they didn't get their stupid caps on pain and suffering, but that doesn't mean it's a bad bill that was even supported by the CBIA who now has this position on the issue of healthcare services in CT As for keeping doctors in CT, we have more per capita that almost any other state on any given day; less docs are going into primary care but that's based on market forces, payment scales and the AMA practices of controlling the supply through entry into med school. The Commssioner of DPH testifeid before the Public health Committe that the normal "ebb and flow" of docs is going on in CT. And while it is true that statewide on average more are going to the ER in Stamford the tend is in the other direction and for good reason. BUT who wants to deal with the facts when the GOP has decided to declare class warfare on the trial attys in the name of screwed up social justice.

TrueBlueCT said...

I have no idea what JDS' position is in relation to malpractice "reform". None at all.

What Oliveira and DeStefano have in common is that they recognize the large number of uninsured in CT to be a significant problem, and they want to find ways to get more people into the system.

Rell, otoh, could seemingly care less. On her website, the issues page remains empty, and I have never, ever, ever heard her talk about healthcare.

Anonymous said...

"[C]lass warfare on trial attorneys..."

That doesn't amke any sense bluecoat. Besides the trial lawyers are without question one of the most powerful lobbying groups in our country and state. I'm sure that they can fend for themselves.

Instead of defending trial lawyers, perhaps you should just defend the victims of medical malpractice. The victims deserve compensation, and $250K for pain and suffering is not nearly enough in many cases. I mean, tell that to the guy in the wheelchair, right?

But, do you really think the lawyer deserves 40%? To me, that is a little outrageous.

Anonymous said...

This guy has a real shot at beating an incumbent in Novemeber. He is well connected and has experience willing elections. He is a hard worker as well. His only downfall is that he looks about 17 years old. Baby faced indivuals never play well with the public.

Anonymous said...

Anon- 2:23

He has no shot.

bluecoat said...

1:59; Do you know how much it costs for a trial attorney to prepare a case? And do you know how much lawyers actually collect? As for defending med/mal victims I do it all the time by educating people about this group the CTCPS and this body of workas well as exposing the unconscionable businees practices of theis insurance comapny run by docotrs in CT among other things and I have done it on this blog in the past.

bluecoat said...

TBCT: my point was that you said he and JDS were the same and you confirmed that you don't know that. And you don't know who the uninsured are either and how many are there by choice- as I have said in the past MIT looked at the data in MA and found they were mostly singel guys in their mid 20's. Rell has rarely mentioned healthcare but at least she didn't push the caps like Rowland and the state got a good med/mal bill that's already working and has provisions in plalce to measure its effectiveness. I do know that Rell has engaged Mickey Hebert to develop a policy for her and I am sure she'll introduce it when it's politically expedient to do that.

Stratford Dem said...

How much money has Oliveira and Stillman raised?

Only two ways that a challenger can knock out an incumbent:

1) The incumbent screws up in a big way
2) The challenger raises significantly more money than the incumbent

Stillman hasn't screwed up, so has Oliveria raised more money? He seems like a smart guy, but without money he has no shot.

Watch out for Dave Mooney in Stratford (house 120)....same situation in reverse. The incumbent John Harkins hasn't screwed up (just hasn't done anything). But Mooney is outraising him 2-1, so he has a real shot.

bluecoat said...

and 1:59the Fairfield County medical doctor union
opposed the med/mal bill because it didn't have caps and many of the county GOP reps voted against it for that reason - the medical lobby is every bit as powerful as the trial atty lobby if not moreso
and this medical doctor (who recently received an award from the AMA and gives money to at least one GOP rep that I know of) directly answered the question about a "guy in a wheelchair" (as you put it) who had just been put there by a negligent, and probably incompetent, doctor and staff at St. Vincent's Medical Malpractice Ceneter answered a Channel 12 reporter point blank that all the unsuspecting 35 year old victim deserved for non-economic damges was $250K - Mr. Aleali made it clear there would be no discussion on the amount but I am sure at the end of the day the case was settled - and it wass settled according to my understanding - for a more reasonable amount if there is such a thing.

TrueBlueCT said...

Say what? I never said they were the same. I said they seem similar.

In terms of the uninsured, I know who many of them are b/c I have talked to them personally. Please don't dismiss a real problem by mischaracterizing "the uninsured" as male 20 somethings and their by choice. It just isn't true.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:23: "Baby faced indivuals never play well with the public."

The beginning of your post was right on, I feel he does have one of the best shots for a Republican challenger. However for the last statement, the name Ryan Bingham ring any bells?

I've seen his picture after he won his race for Mayor of Torrington last November, he is younger and looks younger then Olivera, but the people in Torrington now address him as Mayor Bingham.

Anon. 1:59 said...

bluecoat - Having precticed law for the past 15 years, I know all too well the costs of preparing a case, including complex litigation like med mal cases, and I am well aware of how much lawyers collect. State statute limits contingency fees; however, most plaintiff's lawyers require their prospective clients to sign a waiver of this fee structure, in favor of a 40% fee. These lawyers are allowed to do this due to a court ruling issued years ago by Judge Vertiffeile, who is now on the CT Supreme Court. I find the request to sign a waiver unconscionable, and that the attorneys who do it are more often than not being greedy pigs.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 2:29 - I think you are being a little unfair. He certainly has un uphill battle and is a decided underdog. I hear from friends that Chris is working extremely hard, is running an aggressive, smart campaign. If Stillman doesn't work hard, Chris may have a shot.

Anonymous said...

beating an incumbent is not very easy. For Chris to win, he will need some coattails. If Rell stays strong and she begins to pump up the rest of her ticket, Chris could win. Jodi is a God in Connecticut and if she sincerely asks for help and she tells them she needs people like Chris with her in the Senate, they will listen,

Chris Oliveira said...

Okay, at the risk of seeming a little vain for commenting on my own story...(where's Carly Simon when we need her?) goes:

Genghis - It was a pleasure meeting, and being interviewed by you. I love the site and the interview was very fair. Nice story - I'm very glad you guys in the netroots are out there.

Truebluect - Thank you for the kind words. On the "ladder" issue, I am not, and never have been, rich. Simply not my ambition. I've been a state employee (state UNION employee actually) and I've been uninsured myself on and off. I may not be a complete "progressive" in the present sense of that word, but I'm sure not a silver spoon Republican either. If anything, I'd describe myself as a "populist." For example, I opposed the bigwigs in BOTH parties down my way who supported eminent domain in New London. Frankly, I'm hopeful we find a "middle path" of sorts out of our nation's present red and blue dilemma. Oh, and yes, Stillman did propose that bill, it was one of her very first in the senate, and you would have LOVED our radio ads...and the e-mail to her from the Mythbusters

Bluecoat - The medmal reform issue is an admittedly complex one. I was merely pointing out that the bill that was passed left some things undone. As for "class warfare" against trial attorneys... 1) They are a fairly wealthy bunch and 2) I am a lawyer - so I figure that entitles me to occasionally take a good natured poke at them.

Anon 2:23 - see Anon 4:13 - age is not a disqualifying factor. I get questions about it, but when I tell people how old I am they usually get a kick out of having misjudged my age. Then again, about half of them mention my age in a sentence that ends with, "we need more young people in the legislature."

Anon 2:29 - Thank you! Please spread the word to all of your friends...I enjoy being underestimated. ;)

Stratford Dem - Thank you for your kind words as well. On the money issue, I'd say you were right - to a point. There is a ratio at which money matters. However, I've run races with an aggressive candidate versus a rich one and won by twenty points while being outspent 2.5 to 1. I suspect I'll have enough to compete financially come October. As for House 120 - couldn't tell you. I can say that anyone who expects to outraise an incumbent without vast personal wealth or a network of vast personal wealth is probably being unrealistic. Incumbents have PACs, lobbyists and caucus committees. As long as they do they will always pull out a financial edge in the clinch - unless you've got the Ned Lamont thing going on. By the by, not a knock on Ned - just an observation.

Anon 4:33 - Yep - underdog is here - lol. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

Anon 12:04 - Jodi got me in to this (so to speak), so I'm counting on her to lead the charge. It is truly remarkable how popular she is - even among Democrats!

Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

TrueBlueCT said...
No doubt he, and his parents before him, took advantage of every benefit that government had to offer.

You might learn to google before you type:

Oliveira is the adopted only son of parents of Portuguese descent who come from Fall River, Mass. His father, Frank, was the youngest of nine children, born in the last year of the Great Depression, and the family’s subsequent rise to the ranks of the middle class forms the bedrock of Oliveira’s belief in the validity of the American Dream.

With Chris Oliveira walks in a room, regardless of size or how many are there; the funniest, brightest guy in the room is Chris.

I love the guy - he's a real pleasure to associate with and he is witty.

He seems to strike others the same way, as my wife inquired a few days after meeting him just who that young looking bright guy was.

One would expect his friendly personality and optimistic outlook to translate well in the Senate making him a superior voice for his district as well as others in Connecticut.

I would support him regardless of political ideology or party and have in fact crossed party lines to support others with a similar positive upbeat persona.

Chris Oliveira is a man everyone should want in office. It's too rare when such individuals even show up; it would be stupid to not grab this guy before he changes his mind.

It's impossible to not like the man.

bluecoat said...

Doctors are a fairly wealthy bunch too. And there is no question some trial lawyers are slime but there are no question that many doctors are slime too. As for the contract between a lawyer and a client; as far as I am concerned that's between them. Everybody seems to want to talk about the outliers instead of the systemic problems: Editorial
When Doctors Hide Medical Errors
and our do-nothing State Medical Board Information

bluecoat said...

and nobody mentioned the veto clause rider that virtually every doctor has in his or her med/mal policy that they use all the time to drag on proceedings - driving up the cost of liablity insurance and the cost of the plintiff/plaintiff's atty.. and nobody mentioned that the number of cases filed annually has remained on average at 300 for the last twentty years with better than 80% being settled sooner or later and never seeing a trial - average settlement by the CMIC being in the half million range. and nobody mentioned that only 1 in 8 cases ever even get filed for various reasons. and nobody mentioned that juries find in favor of the docs 80% of the time. please don't give me the "I am lawyer and therefor I know best" stuff instead of dealling with my comments.

bluecoat said...

TBCT: I read your commentary the way I read it and I fully expected you would clarify. As for who is uninsured I don't doubt thet you have talked to many who are not single in their 20's - my point is the problem nneds to be quantified in order to be solved; in MA, Romney had MIT quantifiy the problem and offer up a solution that I beleive is probably appropraite for CT but without a full quantification I can only guess about the outcome - CT gueeses about the outcome of legislation alll the time without doing any analyses; that practice needs to stop. And I didn't even mention the various free clinics - stationary and mobile - around the state. One college freshman anecdotally talked about how she used it to get her pre-enrollment vaccinations instead of having to mess around with an appointment at her family doctor.

bluecoat said...

Mr. Oliviera: your statement:We have over 300,000 people living in our state without healthcare coverage relying on emergency rooms for their primary care is simply not supported by the facts. I imagine you cut and paste it from some sensationalist somewhere though bolstered by the recent politically motivated report out of OCHA on emergency room utilization. The 300,000 number is certainly correct, or close enough, but the suggestion that all 300,000 rely on the emergency room for primary care is hogwash. I thought lawyers had to base their statements on reality and not mythology - but then you are speaking as a CT GOP politician aren't you? It's really time for the GOP to stop fronting for the doctor unions and deal with the real problems not the fabricated ones. I suggest you do your own research instead of relying on Lou DeLuca who has done nothing to improve the lot of the GOP in the state Senate.

bluecoat said...

and for a solution to the overutilization of the ER; take a look at the Stamford model since the utilization of the ER at Stamford Hospital went down - and the locals have an explantion too - while the average utilization of ERs statewide went up. Just like the states are models for improved healthcare; so can be certain decent medical communities like Stamford - and it has nothing to do with Malloy being mayor BTW.

bluecoat said...

Transparency Gives Patients More Power
September 10, 2006
By John W. Rowe, M.D. of Aetna

MALPRACTICE BATTLE LIVES ON – by William A. Collins of the ultra liberal wing of the Norwalk DTC

bluecoat said...

and there are also numerous folks who qualify for HUSKY who are not enrolled. some of this goes to the state changing the rules all the time but let's not create a new program when there's problems that need to be fixed with the existing ones.

bluecoat said...

and here's the problem explained somewhat Fewer people on state health care despite rising poverty
By:Keith M. Phaneuf, Journal Inquirer 09/08/2006
but is this really the answer from an even bigger spender than Rell?:
Speaker vows all children to have health coverage
By Keith M. Phaneuf, Journal Inquirer

bluecoat said...

and if everybody knows what to do, why is this study just getting started?:Region's Health-care Needs Will Be Studied
Report is designed to improve services
New London Day
By Elaine Stoll

and seeing as one of the drivers of cost is the oversupply and resulatant overutilization of services don't count on these oversuppliers coming to that conclusion as they spend federal funds.