Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Things to Think About

In 1956, thanks in part to the popularity of Dwight Eisenhower, Republicans ruled Connecticut.

In that year, Prescott Bush (R) defeated Rep. Thomas Dodd for a U.S. Senate seat, joining Sen. William Purtell (R).

All six congressional districts were won by Republicans. Dodd has been the lone Democrat, but his open 1st District seat was won by Republican Edwin May.

Republicans also dominated the legislature. They controlled the House, as they almost always did in those days when every municipality had exactly two state representatives, by a huge margin, and won the state Senate by a margin of 31 to 5. The only Democrat left in office was Governor Abe Ribicoff, who suddenly found himself all but irrelevant.

1958 was a different story altogether. Democrats surged. The incredibly popular Ribicoff handily won re-election, and took the entire ticket with him. Thomas Dodd won Purtell's Senate seat. All six Republican members of Congress were turned out and replaced by Democrats. Edwin May would be the last Republican to represent the 1st District. Better yet for Democrats, they retook control of the state Senate and won the state House of Representatives for the first time since the Civil War. That remarkable victory set the state for fundamental reforms which would change the way Connecticut was governed. Republicans, who just two years before seemed to have a lock on Connecticut, suddenly found that they had nothing at all.

Things change.


Anonymous said...

Things changed alot more rapidly before elimination of the party lever.

Gabe said...

Party Lever.

reminiscing republican said...

Ahhh, those were the days.

Genghis Conn said...

Well, yeah. Partly. We won't see such huge swings now.

Control of the House, though, was more than party lever.

Anonymous said...

Not partly GC... solely the party lever.

Genghis Conn said...

You guys are no fun.

Genghis Conn said...

And actually, while the party lever was a factor, CT voters in the past had elected plenty of split tickets. It wasn't just Eisenhower and Ribicoff.

Matt said...

That was what was so interesting about the "New England / Connecticut GOP" threads... what's going to precipitate a major tectonic shift in politics here?

In 1958, Ribicoff opened I-95, which was (I understand) a big deal at the time. What do the Republicans propose doing on a dramatic enough scope to vastly change their fortunes?

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Republicans should start by finding qualified candidates to run in each district instead of just allowing so many seats to go unopposed.

Also they should find and run two strong canidates who are properly funded and supported, to win back the two congressional seats lost this past election.

Instead of talking about cutting taxes, Republicans may want to consider hi lighting the hugely under funded state worker, and teacher pension mess. They should the offer the voters a solution, before the need to cut these benefits is unavoidable, that is if we haven't already passed that point.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, the biggest difference between then and now is Roe. Before Roe (well, Griswold) the political process was working these issues out at a local level. Once the federal courts effectively amended the national constitution by saying that an amendment passed in 1868 to make sure that freed slaves enjoyed the same rights as everyone else also invalidated two centuries worth of abortion laws because it contained a right thereto, the national parties went to their own corners and never looked back. I truly think that Northeast Republicans can reconcile their views with independent voters and the national party by embracing federalism on these issues and sticking with taxes and spending. As Republicans we need to explain to people that these are not federal issues and never were. If we get rid of Roe no one in Conn. will be effected. Nothing will change. This way we can please more socially conservative Republicans (they can do what they want in their respective states) and get beyond these issues with the voters of the state. Once we have done that we win with classical economic arguments.

The problem is that the Democrats demogogue these issues because if you are for a federlist approach you are "anti-choice" and you'll never win an election. Why? Because Dems. and the pro-abortion lobby muddy the waters and make people believe that if Roe is overturned abortion will be illegal. Not in Conn.

FrankS said...

Just a note, on a historical perspective on the decline of the Republican Party in Connecticut.

The challenge to Rell, who without the implied ability to sustain a veto suddenly and now finds herself all but irrelevant, is how to reform her party.

Anonymous said...

The incredibly popular Ribicoff handily won re-election, and took the entire ticket with him and so why couldn't the incredibly popular Rell do the same thing? Aren't new train cars like a new I-95? Ooops, the train cars aren't here yet, are they now?

Anonymous said...

GC... regarding the maps... did you happen to notice any trends with the constitutional officers underticket? Any surprises there? Presumably the Dems crushed the Rs statewide, with some Republican strength in western CT. And someone like Cook presumably did well in SE CT. But were there any surprises among particular towns & particular candidates?

brickbat said...

First, you gotta always take these post-election pontifications with a grain of salt. It seems like every two years something is being made a permanent this-or-that.

The CT GOP is stuck with the national party, period. And GW Bush and his fundamentalist-idiot followers are anathema to most CT voters.

Not to mention the war.

If a Bill Frist, or a Romney get the 08 nomination, the CT party is in big trouble (can they go below 40 in the state House?). On the other hand a reasonable conservative like McCain or Hagel would bring some life back.

Unlike Democrats, who tend to the anarchic, Republicans tend to be good followers (I don't mean that as a negative or an insult). This means that if they are led to believe that a McCain or Hagel can win they may set their ideological preferences aside for the time being.

I think that's the short-term hope for the CT GOP. State-level politics has a limited ability to affect things -- the public simply doesn't pay that much attention to it.

Matt said...

If we get rid of Roe no one in Conn. will be effected.

If Roe were overturned, the Republican party would be devastated nationally. The anti-Roe freaks were blown out of the water in South Dakota for christ's sake. Good luck pinning the GOP's trouble on insufficient federalism and the national right to birth control and abortion.

TrueBlueCT said...


Man, I hear you loud and clear. Oh for the days when civil rights issues were decided at the local level. I mean how can you not be nostalgic for a time when states could embrace things like slavery, Jim Crow, anti-miscegination laws, etc?

If we went back to the good old days, do you think Utah would allow their women to vote? And maybe we could herd all the openly gay folks into Massachusetts and California where they belong!

P.S. As a self-proclaimed "federalist", do you agree that the Supreme Court giving Bush his 2000 victory was a travesty? And how do you reckon Congress' intervention in the Schiavo affair?

cgg said...

Northeast Republicans can't get rid of Roe, and even if they could they wouldn't. Most Americans are pro-choice. Just look at what happened in South Dakota.

Anonymous said...

Because Anon 5:00- all they had to do was pull ONE lever for Abe.

Anonymous said...

It's true that most Americans are pro-choice but that doesn't mean they have a right to avoid the ballot box. South Dakota is indeed a good example -let's just have a vote. It is the best way to come up with the best policies out there.

As for the civil rights era, originalist thinking (including Bork, Scalia, et. al) have all said that Jim Crow violated the 14th Amendment, an amendment created to ensure that freed slaves received the same rights as everyone else. That was settled in 1868, it just took the federal government 100 years to pass a law to prohibit it.

As for women's suffrage it is a great example of the right way to create a new constitutional right. It isn't an issue of federalism as we voted on and passed an amendment granting women the right to vote. If we did the same with a right to privacy I wouldn't have a problem with Roe. But just because you can't win a vote doesn't mean you can go to court and claim it is a right all of a sudden.

As for gay rights i am not really sure what your getting at. Please explain.

As for Bush v. Gore I think the S. Ct. should have stayed out of it. That said, even if they had stayed out of it Bush would have been named the winner as all the independent recounts said as much. No one, not you not me, not anyone knows who won that election.

Also, I think the GOP would be in great shape without Roe. It would allow the states to have more control over their party apparatus and run independently of a national party ethos that not everyone agrees with.

Anonymous said...

Oh, as for Schiavo it is pretty clear that Congress has the right to control the jurisdiction of the federal courts. Should they have? Probably not, but again, it isn't an issue of federalism as the constitution grants that power to Congress.

meteskyjr said...

What happened in 1958 is you had a very strong Democratic chairman in John Bailey who saw that the 1956 results had more to do with Eisenhower (and Stevenson) than with any particular strength among the Republicans who won seats in Congress. He was at the height of his organizational powers and he saw that 1958 presented an opportunity. He enlisted a group of very able candidates (Chester Bowles, Mim Daddario, John Monagan, Bob Giaimo, etc.) and worked his connections among local town committees across the state. He made sure Abe Ribicoff worked hard for the other candidates. In other words, it was about leadership and organization, two things that Connecticut's present-day Republicans are very far from attaining. The party lever didn't hurt, either.

GMR said...

Roe actually helps Republicans.

Many people who are pro-choice may still vote for pro-life Republicans, because they know deep down that there's little the Republicans can do about Roe.

Even though a majority of the people in this country are pro-choice (not by a huge margin, but not insignificant), being pro-life in many areas actually helps at the polls, because there are more single pro-life voters than pro-choice voters. Let's face it, if there's an election for something like State Senator, and the candidate is pro-life but you're pro-choice, you may still vote for him/her, since you know he/she cannot really do anything to advance the pro-life agenda.

That being said, I still think that Roe was a bad decision from a legal perspective. I think that the logic used to decide the case was wrong, and the courts are not the correct venue for this: congress and state legislatures are.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:25 - because, at the end of the day if we marginalize women's rights nationally by overturning roe it doesn't matter because abortion will still be allowed in CT.

That is possibly the worst logic that I've ever heard. I would sincerely HOPE that people in CT realize there is a national force and necessity for protecting roe.

As for the future of the republican party in CT, i don't really see it happening unless nationally republicans come back to the center. Most people affiliate and vote for the lesser of two evils -- or, to put it like my one friend, you are going to be more comfortable with the crazies on one end than the other. THAT's how you pick a party.

CT is simply more comfortable with the Dennis Kusciniches of the world than the world according to Ann Coulter.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:47

My point is that the right to abortion on demand is not a constitutional right. Roe was really way off on that point and the GOP gets demogouged over it and shouldn't. Just look at your comment: marginalizing women's rights nationally? Do your homework and come with something a little better than that.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:47

Why is there a need to protect Roe? Where, exactly in the constitution does this right to an abortion exist? I think abortion should be avaiable in some circumstances, but I also think that it is not, and never has been a constitutional right. I don't understand what the pro-abortion crowd is so afraid of: they claim that America is over-whelmingly pro-choice but refuse to allow them to vote on it!

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:47

Also, if Conn. is more confortable with Kucinich then they should be able to enact the laws that reflect that comfort. Similarly, the states that are more comfortable with Coulter should do the same. Why do you want to impose our will and beliefs on the rest of the country?

Genghis Conn said...

It's impossible to debate abortion in this country. It's too tied up with what boils down to religious faith and deep social conservatism on the one side, and with basic feminism and the larger spectrum of women's rights on the other. It's part of the same tiresome culture war that's been going on since the 1960s. Therefore, it's impossible to debate abortion or Roe v. Wade in America without getting clobbered by someone.

I frankly take the "safe, legal and rare" view, and point to education and access to contraception as the best solution.

Anonymous said...

party lever was a big part of it. split tickets was more a case of people only voting for the top one or two offices. also, not every town had 2 representatives.

Anonymous said...

It wouldn't be impossible to debate if Roe hadn't been decided the way it was. Look at White's dissent to Roe. It was prescient.

The one thing that people who support abortion rights and those who oppose abortion rights should agree on is that the courts are the wrong people to decide the issue.