Saturday, October 28, 2006

Forget What's The Matter With Kansas

When Thomas Frank wrote What's The Matter With Kansas following the 2004 presidential election, pundits were quick to pick a side in either adopting the "values voter" theme, where people vote against their economic interests, or dismissing the concept outright. Here in Connecticut, we are often labeled a "blue" state in contrast to "red" states as a simple catch-phrase to imply liberal leaning voters over conservative leaning voters. In fact, just looking over the red and blue maps Genghis has posted on the site, the one striking observation is that Connecticut turns red or blue depending on the race. Governor 2002, we're red. Presidential 2004 we're blue. State Rep 2004 we're split red and blue. It's probably safe to say, that as whole Connecticut is just as happy with divided government as with sticking with one party's offerings. Whether Connecticut voters are so called value voters is up for debate. The issues that divide the electorate in places like Kansas don't seem to play as well here, not because of disinterest, but perhaps because of more engagement in the local economic issues.

Maybe its that Connecticut is leading the path to the idea that party labels don't mean as much as they used to. When Ned Lamont began his campaign, he was the outsider to the party apparatus, who rejected him at the nominating convention but adopted him after his primary win. Alan Schlesinger won his party's nomination, but soon found himself embroiled in a fight to stay on the ticket when the state Republicans realized that Lieberman losing, meant either a weak Democratic ticket, or a three way race. Lieberman, founded himself a new party and discovered that the nuts and bolts of voter identification had to be tackled out side of the system. The evidence that party affiliation means less and less can be tied to the steady increase of the unaffiliated majority and the acceptance of even party politicians to vote for the individual not the party.

Heading into the final week before the election, the Republican under ticket has voiced complaints that the state GOP has not provided enough support. Rell holds a decisive lead over DeStefano, but it's likely that her constitutional officers will remain Democrats except that she'll get a Republican as Lieutenant Governor. Statewide Democrats look to hold their veto-proof majority in the state senate, and add a few seats in the legislature. It's this type of office by office calculation by voters that makes the case that the party affiliation matters less and less.

Then there's places like Norwalk, where the 1990's fostered room for a viable third party, the Independent party and the Working Families Party gains ballot spots in the following decade. In today's Norwalk Advocate Matt Miklave joined his Common Council colleagues in endorsing Lieberman, brining the total to 7 out of 10 Democrats.
Of the five council Republicans, four contacted -- Douglas Hempstead, Nick Kydes, Richard McQuaid and Kelly Straniti -- said they probably would vote for Lieberman.

Joanne Romano, the other council Republican, could not be reached.

"I don't feel right about endorsing Lieberman," Kydes said. "But Lamont, I believe, is extremely left-wing. Lieberman seems to be more of a moderate."
The mayor citing a friendship with Schlesinger demurred.
Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia delivered Schlesinger's seconding speech at the Republican Party's May 20 convention. He did not fault the council Republicans for backing Lieberman.

"I understand their concern. But Alan's a friend of mine, and I am not going to join them," Moccia said. "I thought he did a great job in the debates. He made a great case. Can he make up for where he is (in the polls)? I hope he can."

Norwalk will once again likely show up as blue and red on Genghis' 2006 election maps, changing colors with each office defying partisan identification. It's that maverick history that suggest there will also be an additional color for an eventual Lieberman win. With party affiliation seemingly irrelevant, will the next election cycle bring a new wave of movement to a more centrist positions, or spawn a new political party dynamic? Only time will tell.

The Norwalk Advocate, Norwalk council majority backs Joe By Brian Lockhardt, 10/28/06


Anonymous said...

and the point of Turfgrrl's post is the usual: follow the old crowd and vote for Joe.

Anonymous said...

This looks like payback for Ned's support of Galen Wells and Bruce Morris. Ned helped Mr. Morris win the primary against Hilliard and now Mr. Coffey and friends are returning the favor.

Ted Swanson said...

Maverick history? give me a break.

Anonymous said...

The sad thing about Norwalk is that the Party leader went with the lunatic fringe candidate versus the incumbent, and now has the audacity to attempt to chill ones right to vote for whomever they choose.
Additionally, in Norwalk the very few elected officials that were with Lamont from the beginning are also lunatic fringe elected officials. After this election they will still be the lunatic fringe, hanging onto their minority positions on the City Council and Board of Education.

Anonymous said...

Good for the Mayor!

Anonymous said...

anonymous- Turfgirl didn't say that at all, her last paragraph asks the rhetorical question about whether another party can emerge. Her question is false because we have the Green party, and the Libertarian party amongst others.

Anonymous said...

We also have the Working Family Party and if Norwalk's former Mayor had taken their offered nomination, he would still be the Mayor.

Smoke 1 said...

Sounds to me Fairfield County Republicans have no loyality for not only republicans but for their own well being.By voting for Lamont the guy who is a 30 second sound bite, and looks like howdy doody, and that is what you want to vote for. I was at the NAACP meeting at Central Connecticut University this evening, and your republican canidate Alan Schlesinger captivated the people in the audience once again, while Liberman and Lamont walked around the questions asked, while Mr. Schlesinger gave them the cold hard facts and the truth without the suger Joe and Ned usaully give to the people, but I can not understand is some republicans believe the bull, and are going back for more because they do not want Liberman for 6 more year. Well here is a good idea vote for your canidate come back to your roots be a real republican and feel good about yourself.

Anonymous said...

payback for Ned's support ........?

Ned has nothing to do with Norwalk politics. These limousine liberals kiss the wallets of those that give to pet causes and care no way about the people who work for a living.

Shadow said...

Turfgrrl - You lost me in the second half, but those first two paragraphs of your post are some of the best analysis I've seen on this blog; I think you make a lot of great points, credit where it's due.

CT is definitely at the head of the wave in so many ways; Lamont coming out of nowhere and beating Lieberman in the primary was the catalyst for the Democratic Party's change to a more anti-war stance, a wave that has since exploded across the country, and led everyone from Joe Lieberman to George W. Bush himself to drop "stay the course", even to the point where they deny they ever said it. None of these gravometrical shifts in national politics would have had time to happen before the November elections had it not been for one state's Senate Primary; just another example of CT leading the way this year.

And, as you alluded to, Republicans and Democrats in CT both overruled their own party establishments to nominate and support their candidates - how cool is that? I hope that positive trend-starting is what our state is remembered for in this election cycle, and not for being the laughingstock state that, despite the fact that the country will be voting in this election to oust neo-conservatism, nonetheless elected a neoconservative to head the Homeland Security Committee for six years, virtually nullifying the will of the rest of the nation. If that were to happen, CT voters would be looked at like Florida voters were in 2000... it's scary.