Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Health Care Candidate

I'm back. Looks like everyone had some lovely arguing without me. Thanks to contributing bloggers for covering the day's events!

The DeStefano/Slifka campaign hit the road this week, with appearances in West Hartford, Hartford and now at Wal-Mart stores in the capital city and Stratford, where DeStefano touted his universal health care plan. From the press release:
John DeStefano – Democratic candidate for governor – joined Wal-Mart employees and local elected officials at news conferences in front of Wal-Mart stores in Stratford and Hartford, to demand Wal-Mart and - companies like it - do more to ensure its employees have access to affordable health care. Each year in Connecticut Wal-Mart tops the list in sending taxpayers the bill for their employees’ health care coverage. More than 800 Wal-Mart employees, and 1,600 children, received taxpayer sponsored health care coverage in 2004, costing taxpayers more than $5.5 million.

“I believe it’s wrong that companies like Wal-Mart don’t share in the responsibility of providing affordable health care to their employees,” said DeStefano. “My universal health care plan would force companies like Wal-Mart to either provide quality health care for their employees or lose their state tax benefits. Taxpayers spend millions each year to cover health care for Wal-Mart workers, and that’s not fair to tax payers or the employees.”

Rosa Sota, who works at the Wal-Mart in New Britain, said “They (Wal-Mart) can afford to provide better health insurance. Employees have complained but they don’t listen. We just want to be treated fairly.” (DeStefano)

This is part of a problem that cropped up last year, which involved Wal-Mart and other companies with stingy health care practices all but forcing workers on to the HUSKY program, or leaving them without insurance altogether. It's easy to attack Wal-Mart during an election year, but the problem DeStefano highlights is very, very real.

Universal health care is necessary. Our current insurance-based system has never really worked for low-income workers, as illustrated by the plight of Wal-Mart workers and others, and health care is quickly becoming too expensive for the middle class, as well. All citizens should have access to quality health services that are free at point of care, just as all citizens have access to public education.

I'm not so sure this is the best way to go about it. In essence, DeStefano's plan would let businesses either opt out of paying all or most of their corporate taxes in return for providing health care to employees through a state-run health consortium. There are holes here. For instance, companies could in fact decide not to join this health care consortium. Wal-Mart might decide that it would be better for it to either pay the full state taxes or withdraw entirely from Connecticut rather than pay for better insurance for its workers. Other companies might feel the same.

Small businesses will be pinched either way. Either pay a hefty tax or pay for health care. Neither solution is particularly appealing.

It begs the question: why are employers responsible for providing health care? In other countries government takes on this responsibility. We Americans deeply distrust our government, but have little to no control over private industry--except through regulations passed by our government! So why not eliminate the middle man, and make government directly responsible?

I will give DeStefano an awful lot of credit for trying to find a solution to this problem. Neither Malloy nor Rell is proposing anything so sweeping. I wonder if Connecticut is ready for it, though.

Probably not.

Source

"DeStefano: Wal-Mart should stop passing the buck on healthcare." Press Release. DeStefano for Connecticut. 31 May, 2006.

Afternoon Open Forum

Slow news afternoon but the threads below are filling up.

Here is a Courant Editorial on the FBI raiding a congressional office. I think they make too little of the fact that Jefferson ignored a subpeona for 7 months...

The Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire... Discuss.
-Coffee Talk, SNL

Shays Admits GOP lead Congress is useless

"The administration has been pushing the envelope, and Congress hasn't been doing proper oversight," Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) said yesterday. "I think some members are going to start to step up to the plate and do more . . . . The executive branch has lost a sense of balance and proportion, and they're just grabbing at everything. And if we were doing more oversight, we might have handled this in a different way."*

So, it must be an election year. And Shays must be feeling the heat, since for the past 2 years he's been enabling the Bush administration to systematically trump science, the constitution, laws and democracy in favor of political pandering to a neo-evangelical cabal powered by oil companies. But what is he really doing? Well let's roll back the video tape to May 16th where the New York Times raises the flag on the obstruction of the Republicans in Congress over files related to the Duke Cunningham investigation:

The United States attorney's office in San Diego has asked for copies of "tens of thousands" of documents from the House Appropriations and Intelligence Committees, the official said, as part of its inquiry into whether Mr. Cunningham illegally influenced the process the committees use to designate money for military projects.

But lawyers for the Republican-controlled House rebuffed the request as unreasonably broad, the official said, and asked the United States attorney's office for a shorter list.


Shays of course would prefer if the Justice Department didn't investigate the Republicans in congress since it might further reveal the corruption that this rubber stamp congress has been up to. According to CNN:

Former Abramoff partner testifies on ties to GOP lawmakers

'We were trying to rig the rules,' says ex-aide to Rep. Bob Ney
. . .
The aide, Neil Volz, who was a partner of Abramoff's at the time, also outlined how the Abramoff team received assistance from several Republican congressmen including, Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, and Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio.


*The Washington Post, Raid Was Tipping Point For an Angry Congress
Simmering Frustration With Bush Erupts
, By Peter Baker and Zachary A. Goldfarb, Sunday, May 28, 2006

CT Librarians Silenced No More

Thanks to Gabe for sending me this. Genghis will be gone for most of the day, but I hope he'll weigh in at some point.

NEW YORK -- The four librarians at the heart of a legal battle over whether the FBI can simply demand access to patron records had to remain silent and invisible throughout the congressional debate leading to March's renewal of the controversial USA Patriot Act.

So when they spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday, the limelight was a mixed blessing.
********
Although the 2nd Circuit dismissed the case on procedural grounds, without reaching the merits of the First Amendment claims, Judge Richard J. Cardamone wrote separately to note such claims are significant. He also chided government lawyers for attempting to have the case vacated, which, he wrote, "is not surprising, but right in line with the pervasive climate of secrecy...The government attempts to purge from the public record the fact that it had tried and failed to silence the Connecticut plaintiffs."


It's disturbing how blatantly political the gag order was, but nothing surprises me anymore. In all honesty I don't think having these four appear before Congress would have made any difference. Until we get a Congress with some guts, regardless of their political affiliation, I think we're stuck with the poorly named Patriot Act as is.


Source
Touhy, Lynne. "Librarians Shushed No More." Hartford Courant. 5/31/06

Open Forum

I won't be around for much of today.

What's happening around the state?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Republican Profile: Mike Fedele

Over the past month, much speculation has centered around who each candidate for Governor will have as his/her runningmate. With the selections made, we have all had an opportunity to digest the picks and drama surrounding some of them. In my hunble opinion, Dan Malloy made a good choice in Mary Glassman, while John DeStefano did not in picking Scott Slifka.

What about Governor Rell? She ended weeks of speculation and announced former State Representative Michael Fedele as her running-mate.

He is featured in this editorial from the The Advocate

A lot of considerations typically go into a political decision like this one. Few people know exactly what Ms. Rell and her advisers were thinking when they asked Mr. Fedele to come along for what is sure to be a very memorable campaign...

...

Some speculated that Ms. Rell looked toward southwestern Connecticut for a running mate to blunt the effect should Mr. Malloy become the Democratic nominee. That is fodder for comment in itself. But there are smart political reasons to look for a partner here, no matter who the Democratic candidate is. Lower Fairfield County is rich in voters and in potential campaign contributors. A Stamford running mate gives Ms. Rell entrĂ‚Že to tremendous financial and human capital.

But Mr. Fedele brings more to the ticket. His is an immigrant's success story -- the kind that is told over and over in Stamford and should resonate with an awful lot of people on the campaign trail...

...

In Hartford, Mr. Fedele was a voice for business, and especially the concerns of the small-business owner. He was bringing experience to bear. His credentials should help Ms. Rell as she makes her pitch to business leaders on the campaign trail. The governor has said that one of her goals is to reduce business taxes and attract new businesses to the state. Mr. Fedele's presence should add heft to that effort.

His personal style also is very well suited for the Republican ticket this year. Unlike a typical politician, Mr. Fedele comes across as genuine and straightforward, much as Ms. Rell does. Even those who have opposed Mr. Fedele in past campaigns say he is a decent and honorable person. That quality is more and more rare in politics and could work to the Republicans' advantage, especially if the race is close and the politics turn nasty.

For these reasons and more, Ms. Rell has selected a fine running mate.


I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Fedele at the State Republican Convention. The first time, I was walking to the parking lot while he was walking to the building and we casually said hello and spoke of our excitement of the day, just merely in passing. In all honesty, I had no clue who he was. The next time, I was with a Rell campaign staffer in the back stage area and met him in his "ready room" before accepting the nomination for Lt. Governor. I realized that he looked familiar but it didn't click. When I was introduced, he said, "yes, we met earlier near the parking lot". Yes, we had...and of all the people he surely met that day, I was surprised that he, in Nancy Johnson fashion (Nancy never seems to forget someone she meets) remembered me. We spoke for a few moments and I was on my way. Of all the speechess on that very loooong day, Fedele's sticks out the most to me. He spoke of "the loaf of bread" we are given in life. As a youngster, he thought it was to eat but as he has grown, he has learned that it is to share. The more you share, the more you will get back and more importantly, the more you will get out of life. It was a telling story of a seemingly humble, intelligent man and a showing of what we should expect from him as Lt. Governor. This is a guy who gets "it".

This Advocate has it right on. Fedele is a tremendous asset to Rell and will be for the state once he is elected.

Source:
Editorial, "A Strong Partner in the Rell Campaign". Stamford Advocate, May 26, 2006

Democrats in Profile

Two articles were published in the Stamford Advocate and the New Britain Herald profiling the Democratic candidates for Lt. Governor.

Scott Slifka, running mate of John DeStefano, was the subject of the Advocate article:
At 32, West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka knows his youth can be viewed as an impediment in his quest for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.

But Slifka, a lawyer, and others say he has experience beyond his years and a bearing that makes him a good fit for the job.
...
"Obviously age hasn't been an issue with the people of West Hartford," he said. "One thing that probably makes me different from another candidate is I come from a generation that is living with debt from the first minute. We're the generation that has to borrow an extraordinary amount of money to get through college or graduate school. The day we take our first jobs, we are in debt and you have to learn to have to live with it. I might be among the first that has something to say about that." (Coleman)

Glassman, who has ties to New Britain, is profiled in the Herald:
Glassman's first foray into political action was her successful run for first selectman of Simsbury, a largely Republican town, in 1991. She was the first Democrat to be elected to the post in 36 years. She served eight years.
She last worked as Lt. Gov. Kevin Sullivan's chief of staff, but resigned immediately after being named Malloy's running mate. Sullivan supports Democratic New Haven Mayor John DeStefano's bid for governor.
Glassman, 47, said open government will be one of her major themes on the campaign trail. She and Malloy, who is currently mayor of Stamford, will make a good team, she said, because they both have experience as chief executives of municipalities.
"He's been a successful mayor. He understands the needs of big cities," she said. "I think he sees me as complementing that because I have also served in office. I have a record of accomplishments in Simsbury and I understand the needs of small towns." (Moore)

It's interesting that both candidates come from well-off Hartford suburbs: Slifka from West Hartford and Glassman from Simsbury. Both Malloy and DeStefano desperately need to court suburban voters, and this is a good way to do it.

Interestingly, this will be the first time in a long while that the Democrats have nominated a ticket with no legislative experience at either the state or the national level. DeStefano/Slifka may very well be the first "all mayor" ticket in state history, as both are currenly mayors of their municipalities.

Sources

Coleman, Tobin. "Dems race for lieutenant governor: Slifka: 'Viewed as mature beyond my years'." Stamford Advocate 29 May, 2006.

Moore, George. "For city native, role in politics was natural." New Britain Herald 29 May, 2006.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

The Courant has a list of Connecticut's war dead. It speaks volumes.

That paper also ran an excellent story about a company of Marines, half of which is from Connecticut, serving in Iraq now.

We owe them all our gratitude, and more.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Weekend Open Forum

It's a holiday weekend, so I'm not expecting many people to be around, or much to be going on.

Anything happening out there?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Judicial Openness Task Force Gets Underway

Task Force Formed by Justice Borden in Response to Zarella/Sullivan Scandal

A task force of lawyers, judges and journalists formed by Acting Chief Justice David Borden is looking at ways to make Connecticut's judiciary more open.
Supreme Court Justice David Borden gave the 18 members of the Judicial Public Access Task Force less than five months to make “concrete recommendations” for public access to the courts.
...
The access issues that were listed on six tablets during the more than hour long brainstorming session included: What is a court record? What court proceedings should be open to the public? Should there be an appeals process for when access to records is denied? What are other states doing? What is available under the current laws? What judicial administrative records should be open and how? (Stuart)

This is an excellent step in the right direction, and I'm glad these questions are finally being studied. It sounds like Borden wants to take action on this before the next legislative session gets underway--which is when a permanent chief justice would likely be confirmed.

Frankly, I think the judicial branch already has a principled leader in Borden, whose revelation of Sullivan's wrongdoing derailed Zarella's nomination. If Rell were to nominate him for the post, it would go a long way towards repairing the damage done by Sullivan's actions.

Source

Stuart, Christine. "Gigantic Judicial Undertaking." CT News Junkie 25 May, 2006.

CT Senator - The Debate About $; Lamont Wins MoveOn.org Online Primary

Over the last two days, we have been treated to two articles in the Courant:

May 23 - Foes Clash Over Cash - Mark Pazniokas

May 25 - Small Donors Aid Lamont - Mark Pazniokas

The first focuses on the Lieberman campaign making an issue of Lamont's personal wealth and his willingness to contribute to his own campaign. Here are the interesting bits (without much context, I encourage you to click on the link):

"I am confident they want as their senator somebody who has had the experience of growing up in this state, living the lives they have lived," Lieberman said.

...

"We started nearly $5 million behind an 18-year incumbent," Lamont said in a statement e-mailed to reporters. "My contribution amplifies the voices of thousands of our supporters who want to change our priorities in Washington."

...

"Having between $90 million and $300 million, Ned Lamont can not only try to buy a seat from Connecticut in the U.S. Senate, he can probably buy a seat in a couple of other states if he wanted," Lieberman said.

...

Tom Swan, Lamont's campaign manager, said his candidate is not taking special-interest money, unlike Lieberman.

"The additional $500,000 is still way less money than what Joe Lieberman has raised from Washington, D.C., special interests," Swan said. "It's not in Joe Lieberman's interest to make an issue of sources of campaign contributions."


This is an interesting strategy by Lieberman's team, that I, personally, don't think will resonate. First of all, much of the state population-wise (from Stamford to roughly Danbury in one direction and New Haven in the other) are in the NYC media market and, in the last 6 years or so have watched John Corzine spend far more than $1 million of his personal money to "buy" a senate seat and than the governor's mansion (NJ). The politically engaged Democrat will look at the amount, shrug, and vote their values. The non-politically engaged will not be voting in the Democratic primary.

Second, and unfortunately, this is the way the system works. And what a perverse system it is when the very rich guy who spends his fortune actually smells cleaner than the rich guy who spends PAC and corporate bundles! Given Lieberman's reliance on out-of-state sources of money in PAC and large corporate bundles, I think he treads down this road at his own peril.

Finally, I don't (and I imagine the average nutmegger would agree) need to hear this: "I am confident they want as their senator somebody who has had the experience of growing up in this state, living the lives they have lived" out of the mouth of someone who is worth between $431,059 and $1,675,000 (source: 2004 Financial Disclosure Report) to attack someone who is worth between $90 million and $300 million. [For the record, the Courant article says that Senator Lieberman is worth "no more than $940,000, based on his financial disclosure statement." Which disclosure statement is not noted.]

With all due respect to the Senator, he is not personally aware of the effect of revaluation (my house doubled) and the new mill rate (down about 2 mills) will have on my ability to pay my property taxes (hint: not good). Nor is he personally aware of how the bankruptcy bill, that he voted against but, when the chips were down, he voted for cloture, will effect nutmeggers who will have to declare under the new rules.

Leaving aside the very rich and the merely rich, none of these guys is like the average Connecticut voter; we are free to vote our values.

Also, a little post-convention spin:

Lieberman downplayed losing one-third of the Democratic convention vote over the weekend to Lamont.

"I will take a 2-1 victory, which is what I was lucky to have at the state convention, any day and in any campaign in which I am involved," Lieberman said.


This is just laughable. Pre-convention, they were setting the bar impossibly high for Lamont (35%) and he exceeded all reasonable expectations and almost met their unreasonable ones. When that 2-1 margin was announced, every Lieberman supporter got nervous.

The second article talks about Lamont's fundraising from individuals, especially stemming from his endorsement by Democracy For America (now raised over $60,000 for the Lamont campaign). Here are the money graphs:

Tom Swan, the manager of Lamont's campaign, said Lamont has raised $620,000 from individuals, in addition to the $1 million provided by the candidate.

Lieberman, a three-term incumbent, has raised about $7 million since his re-election in 2000.


Make this point number 4 above to why Lieberman's strategy of making an issue of Lamont's wealth is risky: After contributing a million ($1,000,000!) of his own money to the campaign, he is still has about 5.375 million dollars ($5,375,000!) raised less than the Lieberman campaign. Buying the election? Or the biggest longshot underdog in recent memory?

As I wrote this, the fundraising story got a little sunnier for the Lamont campaign. In the MoveOn.org online primary, he took 85% of the vote to Lieberman's 14% (I received an email, the press release is not currantly online). MoveOn now will jump into the fray on the Lamont side, presumably with fundraising emails and issue advocacy ads. It will be very interesting to see how much cash the campaign brings in as a result of this endorsement and whether any MoveOn ads are played and their effectiveness. [The MoveOn endorsement is really seperate news and I will do a seperate post on it later, but it was relevant here so I had to mention it.]

Sources:

Courant May 23, 2006 - Foes Clash Over Cash - Mark Pazniokas

Courant May 25, 2006 - Small Donors Aid Lamont - Mark Pazniokas

Journal Inquirer May 18, 2006 - Out-of-staters boost Lieberman warchest in April; Lamont late to file - Don Michak

May 24, 2006 - How Much Are YOU Worth, Senator Lieberman? - Branford Boy

Joe Lieberman's 2004 FDR - OpenSecrets.org

May 26, 2006 - MoveOn.org Press Release - Lamont Wins MoveOn Endorsement for U.S. Senate

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Michelle Jacklin Leaving DeStefano Campaign

According to the excellent New Haven Independent, former Courant political columnist Michelle Jacklin is leaving the DeStefano campaign. She was hired as the policy director for the campaign.

Apparently there are no hard feelings:
"I'm leaving with the highest respect and admiration for the mayor [DeStefano]," Jacklin said. "It hasn't diminished at all." Said campaign spokesman Derek Slap: "Michele has been a strong, supportive, creative and wise leader in our operation. We are ahead because we are the campaign about ideas and Michele has led our efforts to keep ideas in the forefront." (Bass)
Anything I say here will probably get me in trouble--but I'm thinking she got while the getting was good. Could be something else entirely. I don't know. That's just what I think. We'll see if anyone else follows.

What's certain is that this is a loss for the DeStefano campaign.

Source

Bass, Paul. "Jacklin Leaving DeStefano Camp." New Haven Independent. 25 May, 2006.

Lieberman, Lamont, Labor

Fairfield County Weekly has an article about Unions and the upcoming Senate race.


Lamont made an impressive showing at the convention, winning a remarkable 33 percent of the delegates--more than double what he needed to wage a primary. But even with a primary in the offing, you can expect most unions to stay on the sidelines.

About a dozen unions, mostly smallish locals, have endorsed the three-term incumbent. But Lieberman's in-your-face support for an unpopular war and an unpopular president has turned many working people against him, especially union activists.

At the same time, labor Democrats are more interested in unseating a Republican governor and three Republican members of Congress than in replacing a generally pro-labor Democrat Lieberman's lifetime AFL-CIO voting record is 84 percent with a kinder, gentler Dem.


There are loads of quotes from Union leadership in the article. It will be interesting to see if Lamont can make some inroads with any of the larger unions, though I'm not sure how wise it would be for them to jump in until after the primary.

Source
Bass, Carole. "Lieberman, Lamont, Labor" Fairfield County Weekly. 5/25/06

Sunny Day Open Forum

Sigh... another beautiful day outside. Oh, well. At least the rain stopped.

Housing costs are out of control--but we knew that already. Unfortunately, the problem of affordable housing won't be fixed until we get a handle on municipal property taxes, and THAT won't happen until we can find a way to cut down education costs for towns. Which isn't happening any time soon. I haven't heard too much from the gubernatorial candidates on this issue. Maybe we'll hear more soon.

Connecticut leads the nation in fuel cell development and production, which could be a big boon to our economy when fuel cells become affordable.

Power failures are plaguing Amtrak today, causing headaches for some Connecticut commuters.

What else is going on?

Robert Giaimo (1919-2006)

Former U.S. Representative Robert Giaimo, who represented the 3rd District in Congress from 1959-1981, died yesterday at 86. From the AP article:
Giaimo's work in Congress included co-sponsoring a bill that created the National Endowment of the Arts and Humanities. He also worked to eliminate the loyalty oath in the National Defense Education Act, and to include the old New Haven Railroad in the Penn Central merger. (AP)


Source

"Former U.S. Rep. Giaimo Dies." Associated Press 25 May, 2006.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Finally: An Effective Campaign Blog

It figures that a candidate who is so tied up with blogs and blogging that Kos Himself appeared in his first TV ad would have the best entry yet in this year's crop of campaign blogs.

Go take a look. Ned Lamont for Senate Blog.

It doesn't matter if you agree with the candidate or not. This blog is doing the right things. Here's what works:

Constant posting - Five (five!) posts today--all reasonably short and easily digested. Users will be constantly checking back.

Good Content - The writing is clear and the stories are of interest to Lamont's core supporters. Remember that campaign blogs are for supporters, volunteers and others with an interest in the campaign. They tend not to be useful for undecided voters.

Comments enabled - This is recent, but smart. They look unmoderated. Nice. Commenting is easy, there's no registration.

Pictures and Video - A bit slow loading on a dial-up connection, but these sorts of media are of great use and interest to supporters. There's content here you can't get anywhere else.

Immediate Content - Today's events are posted right away, or as they happen.

Layout and Design - It's simple and effective. Lots of white space, the text is easily read, the blog is easy to navigate (so far).

Now, I'm not a huge fan of the color scheme, and I don't know how they'll be handling archiving, but by and large this is a very useful, interesting and engaging blog. We'll see if it stays active: the DeStefano blog was a great source of information for a while until it sort of petered out (it is now back). If it can keep going at this rate, other campaigns should sit up and take notice of what they're doing right.

Lamont Calls for Debates

At a press conference today, Ned Lamont stated his desire for a debate with Joe Lieberman:
"I think we've earned the right to a debate. I think the people of Connecticut, certainly the delegates at the convention, want to have a debate," the Greenwich millionaire businessman said.
...
"So, I'd say to Senator Lieberman, let's have a debate on the big issues of the day. Let's go around the state and talk about what people care about," Lamont said. "I think that would be good for the state, and I think that would be good for the party going forward." (AP)

To which the Lieberman campaign snippily replied:
"It is exciting that Mr. Lamont is beginning to focus on what we've been focusing on this whole time - discussing the issues that matter to Connecticut voters," spokeswoman Marion Steinfels said. "And we expect to work with the Lamont campaign over the next several weeks to settle the question of a debate." (AP)

I understand the need to spin, but that's a wild one. What has Lamont been focusing on, if not issues? Pinochle? Even people who say Lamont is a one-issue candidate have to admit that Connecticut voters do care about the war.

Actually, it seems like Lamont has done a lot more focusing on Connecticut issues than Lieberman. Crazy moonbat liberal Dean Pagani points out this fact about a new Lieberman commercial:
The first Lieberman ad also revealed how three terms in Washington have strained the relationship with the real people who elected him. Speaking directly into the camera Lieberman did not look happy to be explaining himself. In fact, he looked somewhat annoyed. His language and facial expressions were those of someone who was being forced to explain himself to an audience that is not as sophisticated as he is. “I have to do this because you just don’t understand,” was the clear feeling that came across the TV screen. When Lieberman said he “respects” voters who disagree with him, it came off as insincere. As if he was imparting a great gift to us.

His second post convention ad is not much better. Senator Lieberman is now trying to prove to Democrat primary voters that he has been a good Democrat and is with them on every issue except the war. In ad two he is against big oil and is protecting the Alaskan wilderness from drilling. Fine, but did the voters of Connecticut send him to Washington to protect Alaska? If he is fighting big oil, why are gas prices at three dollars a gallon? Who’s winning that fight?

Meanwhile, Ned Lamont looks like he is fighting the right cause in his TV ads. He is the clear underdog with a popular message. He is in position to take advantage of Lieberman fatigue, especially among primary voters. (Pagani)

Pagani, who knows a thing or two about crafting effective media, hits the nail on the head. Lieberman is floundering. He should be beating down Lamont's door for a debate, trumpeting the value of his ideas over Lamont's and proving that his victories in 1994 and 2000 weren't just because the Republicans had crappy candidates.

But he's not. Instead, he's on the defensive.

What next? Right now, the Lamont campaign has all the momentum. Can Joe Lieberman find a way to slow them down?

Sources

"News and notes from the campaign trail." Associated Press 24 May, 2006.

Pagani, Dean. "Lieberman vs. Lamont." Media Attache. http://mediaattache.blogspot.com/2006/05/lieberman-vs-lamont.html. 24 May, 2006.

CT's State Surplus Grows

The state surplus has ballooned to an estimated $791 million with only weeks to go in the fiscal year, Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced Tuesday.

The estimate is up about $192.6 million from last month's figure calculated by the Office of Policy and Management, Rell's budget office.


The additional money will be deposited in the Rainy Day fund. I expect that Rell will be talking this accomplishment up all summer.

Source
Associated Press. "State's Estimated Surplus Grows". Hartford Courant. 5/24/06

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Nomination Melee in Bristol

(hat tip to The Architect for bringing this to my attention!)

Bristol Democrats nominated former mayor Frank Nicastro over incumbent State Representative Kosta Diamantis as their candidate for the 79th House District--but not before a fierce fight.

No, literally. There was a fight.
Within minutes of closing its nominating convention at City Hall, supporters of state Rep. Kosta Diamantis and city Councilor Frank Nicastro clashed in the hallway outside the council chambers.

After shouting, pushing and at least one injury to an elderly party loyalist, eight police officers converged on the meeting to restore order and try to figure out who did what to who.

The only certainty is that Marie Pasquale, a popular figure in the party, wound up sitting against a wall with a large bag of ice held to the right side of her head.

"You knocked over an old lady," screamed Mayra Berrios Sampson, a former party chair.
...
Mike Petosa, another party activist, said he tried to stop Busto, a Nicastro supporter, from attacking Dominic Pasquale, who backed Diamantis.

"He went like a maniac," Pasquale said, and tried to punch him in his rage.

Busto grabbed Dominic Pasquale’s glasses and threw them across a crowded room, according to Petosa and Pasquale. (Collins)

The first rule of Democratic nominating conventions? You don't talk about Democratic nominating conventions.

Diamantis will challenge Nicastro in a primary, or maybe they'll settle this with a rumble downtown.

Source

Collins, Steve. "Democrats in brawl." Bristol Press 23 May, 2006.

Utopia Studios Approved

Voters in Preston tonight approved the $1.6 billion Utopia Studios project:
The unofficial tally was 1,330 to 1,023, or 56.5 percent in favor and 43.5 percent opposed. Voter turnout was about 68 percent.
...
Utopia Studios, based in Melville, N.Y., intends to build movie studios, a climate-controlled theme park, hotels and an arts school on the former Norwich Hospital property. The developers estimate the attractions would bring 8 million to 10 million visitors a year and employ 22,000 workers.

The vote ended nearly three years of discussions, negotiations and planning. Preston officials now will sign a 300-page agreement to develop the 419-acre site.(AP)

I'm glad the voters approved this project. If it's successful, it'll give a needed boost to the region's economy. This has been dragging on for a long time. I hope work can start soon.

Source

"Voters approve eastern Connecticut studio, theme park idea." Associated Press 23 May, 2006.

General Assembly 2006: Races to Watch (May Edition)

Neglected this week has been the many, many legislative races that are kicking off all over the state. These are some of the more interesting ones. If anyone has any information they want me to add to this list, put it in the comments. If it's appropriate, I'll add it. I am posting links to websites and candidate blogs, too, so feel free to post those here.

If you work for a candidate and think your race should be on this list, email me.

Click here to go to the end of this post

Updated 5/23/2006

Senate: 07 ; 09 ; 12 ; 14 ; 16 ; 18 ; 22 ; 31

House: 02 ; 19 ; 30 ; 34 ; 37 ; 38 ; 44 ; 50 ; 59 ; 61 ; 65 ; 79 ; 86 ; 100 ; 101 ; 104 ; 117 ; 120 ; 132 ; 134 ; 136

Senate 07

  • Incumbent: Sen John Kissel (R)

  • Opponent: Bill Kiner (D) (website)

  • Towns: East Granby, Enfield, Granby, Somers, Suffield, Windsor (part), Windsor Locks

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 1.64%

  • Notes: Kissel won based on his personal popularity alone in 2004. His district went heavily for Kerry. Kissel was one of the few senators to vote against civil unions in 2005. Bill Kiner is running against him again: break out the bright orange signs.

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Senate 09

  • Incumbent: Sen. Biagio "Billy" Ciotto (D) (retiring)

  • Challenger 1: Paul Doyle (D)

  • Challenger 2: Tom McBride (D)

  • Challenger 3: Ralph Capenera (R)

  • Towns: Newington, Wethersfield, Cromwell, Middletown (part), Rocky Hill

  • Notes: Rep. Doyle (D-Wethersfield) was nominated over former Newington mayor Tom McBride. McBride has been mulling a primary.

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Senate 12

  • Incumbent: Sen. Edward Meyer(D)

  • Opponent: Gregg Hannan (R) (website)

  • Towns: Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison, N. Branford

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 3.16%

  • Notes: This is typically a Republican area. Meyer defeated Bill Aniskovich in an upset in 2004.

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Senate 14

  • Incumbent: Sen. Gayle Slossberg (D) (website)

  • Opponent: Barbara Lisman (R)

  • Towns: Milford, Orange, West Haven (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 3.82%

  • Notes: Slossberg defeated a GOP incumbent in 2004.

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Senate 16

  • Incumbent: Sen. Chris Murphy (Not Running)

  • Candidate 1: Sam Caliguiri (R) (website) ; (blog)

  • Candidate 2: David Zoni (D)

  • Towns: Cheshire (part), Southington, Waterbury (part), Wolcott

  • Notes: A rare open seat in the Senate--this one is being vacated by Sen. Chris Murphy, who is running for Congress. Another candidate, Rep. John "Corky" Mazurek (D-Southington), dropped out due to lack of support. It's unknown whether he's running for re-election in the 80th district.

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Senate 18

  • Incumbent: Sen. Cathy Cook (R) (Running for Comptroller)

  • Candidate 1: Lenny T. Winkler (R)

  • Candidate 2: Andy Maynard (D) (website)

  • Towns: Griswold, Groton, N. Stonington, Plainfield, Preston, Sterling, Stonington, Voluntown

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 8.95%

  • Notes: Cook is running for comptroller this year, making this an open seat.

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Senate 22

  • Incumbent: Sen. Bill Finch (D)(website); (blog)

  • Opponent: Robert Russo (R)(website)

  • Towns: Bridgeport (part), Monroe, Trumbull (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 7.96%

  • Notes: Finch has one of the most active candidate blogs I've seen. Worth checking out. Russo's site doesn't seem to be up, yet.

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Senate 31

  • Incumbent: Sen. Tom Colapietro (D)

  • Opponent: Beverly Bobroske (R): (website)

  • Towns: Bristol, Harwinton (part), Plainville, Plymouth

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 5.14%

  • Notes: Colapietro has said homosexuality is a "sickness." Bobroske's website is not yet active, apparently.

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House of Representatives

House 02

  • Incumbent: Rep. Hank Bielawa (R)(Not Running)

  • Candidate 1: J. Philip Gallagher (R)

  • Candidate 2: Jason Bartlett (D)

  • Towns: Bethel (part), Danbury (part) Redding (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 0.82% (87 votes)

  • Notes: Bielawa won in 2004 because he was cross-endorsed by an Independent party. Very strange stuff. Jason Bartlett, who lost to him in 2002 and 2004, is running again for the seat. Bielawa announced his retirement in May.

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House 19

  • Incumbent: Rep. Robert Farr (R) (Running for Attorney General)

  • Candidate 1: Beth Bye (D)

  • Towns: West Hartford

  • Notes: Farr's retirement makes this a possible pickup for Democrats.

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House 30

  • Incumbent: Rep. Joe Aresimowicz (D)

  • Opponent: Edward Pocock (R) (website)

  • Towns: Berlin (part), Southington (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 7.44%

  • Notes: Aresimowicz defeated a GOP incumbent in 2004. Pocock has been very popular in Southington, however.

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House 34

  • Incumbent: Rep. Gail Hamm (D)

  • Opponent: Salvatore Nucifora (R)

  • Towns: East Hampton, Middletown (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 9.92%

  • Notes: Probably safe, although both towns are unstable for Democrats lately. Hamm irritated her constituents in East Hampton when she pushed for a law restricting development around lakes.

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House 37

  • Incumbent: Rep. Ed Jutila (D)

  • Towns: East Lyme, Salem

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 8.69%

  • Notes: East Lyme is GOP, and Jutila is invisible.

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House 38

  • Incumbent: Rep. Elizabeth Ritter (D)

  • Towns: Montville (part), Waterford

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 6.61%

  • Notes: Waterford is trending GOP

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House 44

  • Incumbent: Rep. Michael A. Caron (R)

  • Towns: Killingly (part), Plainfield (part), Sterling

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 10.37%

  • Notes: Should at least be competitive. This part of the state is trending Democrat.

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House 50

  • Incumbent: Rep. Mike Alberts (R)

  • Opponent: Sherri Vogt (D) (website)

  • Towns: Brooklyn, Eastford, Hampton, Pomfret, Woodstock

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 0.44% (48 votes)

  • Notes: Most endangered Republican. Defeated Democrat Reece Painter in general election, but Painter defeated Alberts in special election to fill remaining two months of term vacated by Rep. Jefferson Davis (D-Pomfret), who resigned 8/04. Very strange.

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House 59

  • Incumbent: Rep. Steven Jarmoc (D) (retiring)

  • Challenger #1: Karen Jarmoc (D)

  • Challenger #2: Charles Woods (R)

  • Towns: Enfield

  • Notes: Karen Jarmoc is Steven Jarmoc's wife. Woods also ran in 2004, but lost to Steven Jarmoc.

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House 61

  • Incumbent: Rep. Ruth Fahrbach (R)

  • Opponent: Derek Donnelly (D) (website) ; (blog)

  • Towns: Suffield, Windsor (part), East Granby (part)

  • Notes: Fahrbach hasn't had much opposition in the last few years, but Donnelly has raised a very respectable amount of money and support, and is looking to make a race of it.

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House 65

  • Incumbent: Rep. Anne Ruwet (R)

  • Towns: Torrington (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 5.1%

  • Notes: Ruwet’s son is Mayor Ryan Bingham of Torrington.

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House 79

  • Incumbent: Rep. Kosta Diamantis (D)

  • Primary Challenger: Frank Nicastro (D)

  • Opponent 2: Henry Raymond (R)

  • Towns: Bristol (part)

  • Notes: This nomination was a bruiser!
    From The Architect:
    Add the 79th onto that list too - Diamantis was defeated last night at the caucus 9-7 by former Mayor Frank Nicastro. The camps then proceeded to get into a fistfight and an older woman was punched out cold. Arrests were made.

    A Union member who works at Theiss Steel is running for the Republicans - the bitter primary (with the loser vowing to run in the general by petitioning) makes this an interesting contest.

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House 86

  • Incumbent: Rep. Robert Ward (R) (not running)

  • Towns: East Haven (part), North Branford, Wallingford (part)

  • Candidate #1: Vincent J. Candelora (R)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 13.95%

  • Notes: Longtime Minority Leader Ward's retirement makes this an open seat. North Branford, the major town in the district, elected a Democratic First Selectman in 2005. Candelora is a member of the town council.

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House 100

  • Incumbent: Rep. Raymond Kalinowski (R)

  • Towns: Durham, Middlefield, Middletown (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 2.93%

  • Notes: Durham went Dem in 2005, and the margin is small. Kalinowski served on impeachment committee in 2004.

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House 101

  • Incumbent: Rep. Deborah Heinrich (D) (website)

  • Opponent: Noreen Kokoruda (R)

  • Towns: Guilford (part), Madison

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 6.06%

  • Notes: Very Republican area. Heinrich defeated a longtime GOP incumbent in 2004.

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House 104

  • Incumbent: Rep. Linda Gentile (D)

  • Opponent: Joseph Romano (R)

  • Towns: Ansonia (part), Derby (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 4.17%

  • Notes: This was an open seat in 2004, vacated by a long-serving Democrat.

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House 117

  • Incumbent: Rep. Paul Davis (D)

  • Towns: Milford (part), Orange (part), West Haven (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 4.73%

  • Notes: Milford and Orange trend Republican. Davis is one of the people behind the bill to make assulting umpires a felony.

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House 120

  • Incumbent: Rep. John Harkins (R)

  • Opponent: Dave Mooney (D) (website)

  • Towns: Stratford (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 5.81%

  • Notes: Stratford is trending Democratic following gains by Democrats in the municipal elections. Harkins has been in the news for controversial anti-illegal alien stances. Dave Mooney is known around here for his blogging.

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House 132

  • Incumbent: Rep. Thomas Drew (D) (website)

  • Opponent: Chris DeSanctis (R)

  • Towns: Fairfield (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 4.90%

  • Notes: Against natural gas terminal in Sound.

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House 134

  • Incumbent: Rep. John "Jack" Stone (R)

  • Towns: Fairfield (part), Trumbull (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 7.88%

  • Notes: Lost the first selectman race in Fairfield to Ken Flatto. Stone was elected to a selectman's seat, but did not take it. Stone is seeking re-election to the House.

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House 136
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Open Forum

They're hitting the ground running.

Lieberman is taking potshots at Lamont's money, while still being evasive about whether or not he'll run as an independent.

Meanwhile, John DeStefano appeared with his running mate to accept the endorsement of the AFL-CIO's executive board yesterday in Hartford. Dan Malloy, meanwhile, will be in West Hartford today.

So has the convention actually changed anything, in regards to the primary? Let's (informally and unscientifically) find out:

Does the Democratic Party's endorsement of Dan Malloy make you more or less likely to vote for him in the upcoming primary?
More likely
Less likely
About the same - I would vote for him anyway
About the same - I wouldn't vote for him
Free polls from Pollhost.com

What else is going on?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Dodd in '08?

I only just saw this. No wonder Dodd was making such an effort to reach out to Lamont supporters in his speech on Friday.

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Christopher J. Dodd said today he has "decided to do all the things that are necessary to prepare to seek the presidency in 2008."

The Connecticut Democrat will hire staff, raise money and travel around the country in the next few months as he tries to enlist support.

Like other presidential contenders, Dodd said during a lengthy interview in his Capitol Hill office that he will not formally decide until early next year whether to make his bid official. At the moment, he joins about 10 other major Democratic Party figures who are considering a run.


Source
Lightman, David. "Dodd Poised For Possible '08 Presidential Run". Hartford Courant. 5/22/06

Six Questions for a Campaign Volunteer

RellGuru is college freshman interning with the Rell campaign.

1. What inspired you to volunteer your time to the Rell campaign?

There are numerous reasons why I volunteer my time with the Rell Campaign. As a political science major, the campaign for me provides the bridge between the lectures in American Policies 201 and the true application of politics in a grassroots campaign. More importantly, I believe in the candidacy of M. Jodi Rell.

2. What skills or education from your professional life have you found useful in volunteering? Are you learning any new skills that will come in handy in other areas of life?

During an average day on the campaign, I utilize my computer knowledge to assist the campaign with various databases for the regional staff. In addition to servicing the regional staff, I help the campaign out with the maintenance of the website. More importantly, as a freshman in college, I learn new tidbits of knowledge all the time which will assist me in the future.

3. Speaking of campaigns in general how can a candidate better utilize its volunteers?

The best way in my opinion is to keep them, the volunteers, informed of all events of your campaign.

4. How can campaigns better use the Internet to recruit and motivate volunteers?

The majority of campaigns since the late 1990s create a presence on the Internet. However, some campaigns do not fully use this resource. Although creating a presence on the world-wide-web is one thing, having a professional and interactive website is something else. Moreover, this resource will introduce "new-comers" to your candidacy and recruit different demographics. Thus it is important to have an "enriched" website for your volunteers. This is something hopefully I will assist the Jodi Rell 06 Campaign out with in a couple of weeks.

5. Jodi Rell seems to enjoy tremendous support in Connecticut. Are any of the Rell campaign volunteers Independents or Democrats?

Yes. Governor Rell does not mind if you are Independent or Democrat. She is more concerned with who is the best person for the job and its responsibilities and/or the duties that need to carried out by that position. If I recall correctly; Governor Rell has appointed more Democrats or unaffiliated to various positions in her administration than Republicans. More importantly I believe that if I intern or could volunteer with different campaigns from different political backgrounds enable me to become a better voter because I understand both sides to the coin.

6. For those who might be interested in the Rell campaign what's the best way to get involved?

The best way is through our campaign website. Which is located at www.jodirell06.com. Then click on "join the campaign" button.

The Lamont Effect

By this point, there's enough out there on the web and in the news about the remarkable showing of Ned Lamont at Friday's convention that I don't have to retell the story. It's enough to say that it was a shock to the Lieberman campaign and the Democratic Party's leadership, and a huge boost for the committed, passionate supporters of Ned Lamont.

How much of a victory was it?

When was the last time a guy who just lost the endorsement by 33% of the vote walked out of the hall to be mobbed by an intense group of supporters, all chanting "Ned! Ned! Ned!" as if they'd just buried Joe Lieberman in a landslide? When was the last time a double-digit margin of victory left supporters feeling deflated and worried?

The Lieberman campaign sent out a triumphant email on Saturday proclaiming a huge win, but most people who watch politics know better. Lieberman may still win the primary and the election, but his standing among many Democrats has been cut off at the knees. It really wasn't supposed to happen this way. Lamont was expected to claw his way to 15%, and not get much more than that. Lieberman supporters were expecting their man to crush him.

It didn't happen.

Big labor showed up in force for Lieberman (and for DeStefano), heavy-hitters like Chris Dodd lionized him in speeches and the leadership seemed to be giving the incumbent senator their support. Normally, that would work.

But this year, organized labor didn't have much of an impact for either Lieberman or DeStefano. People talked through Chris Dodd's speech (I couldn't hear a lot of it, people were talking so loudly) and when Dodd exhorted his fellow Democrats to "Stand up for Joe Lieberman," urging them to get out of their seats, only about half did. At the end of the speech, Dodd received tepid, polite applause from those who were listening.

When the vote was taken, it seemed like Lamont's votes were coming from all over the place. A wide majority of towns had at least one Lamont voter in them: only 34, by my count, cast all of their votes for Lieberman.

The message seemed to be that a lot of the Democratic delegates had lost faith in their leaders. Instead of being told what to do by the leadership, and then doing it, they were acting on their own. This is not the way party politics is supposed to work!

One of the effects of the Lamont campaign may be that the Democratic Party becomes more, well, democratic. The old machine structure of the party has long been in decline--maybe this will be the final nail in its coffin. This election year is shaping up to be about change. Voters desperately want something to change in this country, and they don't trust their leaders to make it happen. Maybe we saw a little of that desire, and where it could lead us, Friday night.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Some Convention Photos





Dodd speaks early on Saturday














Malloy whips up support

















DeStefano calmly confident













The view from the media corral














A defiant DeStefano after Malloy's acceptance speech

Dan's the Man

At the crucial moment, between the end of the first roll call and the switching of votes, it may have come down to the fact that Dan Malloy was there and John DeStefano wasn't.

Yes, there were other factors involved. Malloy had excellent people working the floor during that pivotal time. They flew around the room speaking with wavering delegates, desperately trying to scrounge up the handful of votes they needed. And they did it. DeStefano's people picked up a vote or two, but found that the votes they did have had slipped through their fingers.

This has been a constant throughout the gubernatorial campaign: Malloy has surrounded himself with experienced people who know how to play to the media and control a room. The DeStefano campaign, by contrast, only recently began to shake off its image of being an amateur production.

Perhaps DeStefano's game of promising the lieutenant governor slot to more than one person hurt him, as well. DeStefano had made a pretense of holding a place open for Malloy (although DeStefano wouldn't consider running as Malloy's LG should Malloy win), while Mayor Scott Slifka of West Hartford was already the campaign's choice. Audrey Blondin, another hopeful, was visibly upset after apparently being told that DeStefano had not chosen her.

But when the moment came, when votes were being traded and the convention was on the line, Dan Malloy was everywhere. He was up and down the aisles, talking to delegates, even jumping on a chair at one point with a plea for more votes, a trail of cameras and reporters struggling to keep up with him.

Where was John DeStefano? His absence was notable, especially compared with Malloy's manic activity. According to several people, he had left the room to declare victory as soon as the first vote was done. Then what? The New Haven Independent reports that he was behind a closed door in preparation for his acceptance speech!

When he finally did emerge, it was only to be told that Malloy had declared victory to supporters at around 4:00. Malloy had climbed onto a chair with a bullhorn, and whipped his supporters into a frenzy. DeStefano remarked that there were still votes to be counted.

But when the count came, DeStefano had lost by four votes.

Almost as an afterthought, DeStefano introduced his running mate, Scott Slifka of West Hartford, to the remaining media people (I actually just happened to catch this on my way out the door) following Malloy's acceptance speech. By then, it was too late. Malloy had captured the day.

There will still be a primary in August. DeStefano currently has more money and the support of organized labor, but it remains to be seen whether his campaign will find themselves outhustled by Malloy again.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Malloy Endorsed After Contentious Vote

Dan Malloy was endorsed by the Connecticut Democrats today as their candidate for governor by a slim margin of only four votes. The vote itself was marred by challenges to the votes of several delegations.

After the first roll call vote, DeStefano appeared to be leading Malloy 800-797, according to an unofficial count by CT-N and others. However, delegations were allowed to change their votes, and it appeared that after several delegations changed their votes that Malloy was ahead. Dan Malloy was seen moving all over the floor, as were many of his staff, before votes were changed.

The changed votes of Norwich, Danbury, West Haven, Hartford and Waterbury were challenged. The challenges to Norwich and Danbury were denied, but Malloy was left with enough votes to win the convention by the smallest of margins.

I will report more on this tomorrow, but Malloy was able to get enough votes through the competency of his own staff, and through the force of his own personality. John DeStefano will now come under enormous pressure to drop out before the August primary.

I am going home, now. This was an incredibly exciting convention to witness! The blog coverage of the convention was outstanding (look for photos and video from many sources, including myself, CT Bob, Connecticut Blog and others), and has established a great precedent for the involvement of citizen journalists in the future.

Gubernatorial Endorsement Vote

Keep Reloading This Page

The press conference regarding DeStefano's running mate won't happen until after the vote. I have to assume he's still hoping for a DeStefano/Malloy ticket.

The vote is happening in about 15 minutes. As last night, I'll keep you up to date on the numbers. Watch this post, and reload often.

The nomination speeches are happening now.

A quick update from the GOP campaign... apparently Frank Lecce gave the nomination speech for Linda Roberts, so it seems like primary averted there.

The DeStefano campaign, as part of its "demonstration," brought in a marching band. It was something of a hit.

Diane Farrell is giving a nominating speech for Dan Malloy.

12:46

Eddie Perez is giving a nomination speech for Dan Malloy. This is the third time, by my count, that he has given a speech at this convention. He's a forceful and engaging speaker--I wonder what his ambitions are?

12:53

The Malloy speakers are focusing on how "electable" Malloy is, and that "this is the ticket Jodi Rell fears." Interesting.

There are plenty of Lamont supporters in both camps.

1:04

Just heard that the margin could be as little as 25 votes. Voting about to begin. I'll post when I can.

1:17

After the first CD, here's how it stands:

DeStefano 48%
Malloy 52%

1:30

Big swing here. After the second CD, here's how it stands:

DeStefano 52.81 %
Malloy 47.19%

1:31

DeStefano pulling away in the 3rd... 56%-44% DeStefano.

1:36

After the 3rd CD: DeStefano up 606-418 (60%-40%)

1:40

After the 4th CD: DeStefano up 667-652. 50.57%-49.43%.

1:46

It's close. 713-695 DeStefano.

1:53

My final unoffical tally: DeStefano wins 809-796.

But some people can in fact change their votes. Hang on. I'm waiting for a final total.

1:55

There may be some sort of deal in the works involving Waterbury. Second vote coming.

2:43

Scuttlebutt here is that Scott Slifka is DeStefano's LG choice. Nothing official yet.

Challenges to votes are taking a lot of time. This could last a while as each delegation is polled separately.

Challenges in East Haven and Norwich have been upheld. CT-N probably has a better count than me.

2:53

Here's what's happening: the convention has essentially ground to a halt while the votes of various towns, including Norwich, East Haven, Danbury and Waterbury are challenged. When the opportunity for votes to be changed came up, the changes appeared to give Malloy the lead. However, several written challenges emerged, and two of those have been upheld.

At this point, I have no idea who is in the lead.

3:04

The first unofficial count was, in fact, 800-797. I must have missed something along the line somewhere. From what I'm hearing, Waterbury wasn't supposed to go so heavily for Malloy.

The challenge from Danbury has been denied. +1 vote for Malloy.

3:08

While we're waiting... I followed the media horde that was dogging Dan Malloy, who wouldn't really comment other than to say that things were close. It was very difficult to figure out exactly what was being said, because of the media crush.

Chris MC stopped by to say that he believed that Malloy was up by 5 after the votes were changed. There may also be a challenge coming from West Hartford.

3:15

ConnecticutBLOG confirms a West Hartford challenge.

No matter who wins here today, the stage for a close and competitive primary is set. Both sides can claim that the vote was too close to name a clear winner.

There's a car show coming in here at 4:00. This has better hurry up.

3:49

Still waiting for Waterbury. Still waiting... still waiting. There are 41 people in the Waterbury delegation--they may be raking each one over the coals.

3:53

Now Chris MC is saying that Malloy has it--he says he's "99% sure." They are apparently trying to figure out a way to get through the LG stuff as quickly as possible.

There's a guy with a bullhorn out there leading the chant of "We want Dan!"

4:02

Dan Malloy is claiming victory. He just addressed supporters with a bullhorn on the convention floor.

He claims that "we won fair and square" and that he was ahead after the first vote. He seems confident that he has managed to defeat DeStefano. DeStefano is nowhere to be seen.

4:28

The Waterbury delegation's challenge led to an increase of six votes for DeStefano, I believe. That may place things in a tie.

If there's a tie, the state chair would break it.

I got some pretty great pictures, and some video. I'll post all that over the next few days.

There is a challenge to the Hartford delegation's vote. Challenge for Hartford denied, vote was not changed.

Voting now closed.

Results soon.

4:38

Here we go. 1594 delegates voting.
798 necessary.

DeStefano 795
Malloy 799

Malloy wins!

View From the Floor

Last night I had the opportunity to be a proxy vote at the convention and support Ned Lamont. Mitch Fuchs, chair of the Fairfield DTC, called me at 4 and asked if I could possibly head up to Hartford. At that point he couldn't guarantee that I'd get in but I jumped at the chance. The following isn't an objective account, but what I observed while on the convention floor.

My Significant other (SO) and I arrived just before the convention started. There was a large peace protest happening just outside the Convention Center, and signs for the candidates were plastered everywhere. To my amazement we found a place to park, and found the registration booth pretty quickly. Mitch had me sign in both as a delegate and a guest just in case, but at that point it looked like I would be able to cast my vote. My SO signed in as a guest.

There were two women by the guest sign in booth holding placards that showed distances between Catholic and other hospitals. Lieberman's now infamous quote was on top and the signs included maps, miles, and how long it would take someone to walk from one hospital to the next. It was at that point where I looked around and noticed just how many people were wearing Lamont buttons and stickers.

I got onto the floor just as Nancy DiNardo was starting to speak. Before heading to my seat I visited the Lamont booth to get my own button. The two young men running it were very enthusiastic. They gave me a button, stickers, a bumper sticker, even a jar opener. I was also able to sign up to have a Lamont yard sign delivered to my door.

The 4th district towns were seated in the front left corner of the room. At first I thought that there were no seats available, because every empty seat had campaign flyers and signs on it. I had to remove three large Lieberman signs to take my seat, and I nearly tripped on the stick of another Lieberman sign while walking to it.

Most of the Fairfield delegation are Lamont supporters. When I arrived they were dismantling many of the Lieberman signs, which had sticks, and attaching Lamont signs to those sticks. My district leader made his own Lamont sign with a pencil, and the back of two Lieberman signs taped together. There were some Lieberman supporters scattered throughout as well, mostly sitting together in clumps. In another town's section I saw a Lamont and Lieberman supporter sitting next to each other trading friendly barbs back and forth.

At one point Ned and his family were standing right at the end of my row, and no one was talking to him. I hadn't yet been able to meet Ned so I walked over, congratulated him on the NOW endorsement and said that I was happy to have the chance to vote for him. We talked about Plan B and how well he was doing in Fairfield before I made my way back to my seat.

I wasn't paying close attention to the speeches because the action on the floor is so much more interesting. Neal Fink is sitting right in front of me with a lap top. He's set up a blog for the convention and is typing away. Right behind me two people are debating about who to vote for tomorrow. Most of the conversations seem to be about Lamont, and what percentage he'll get. I have no doubt he'll get his 15%. It feels like the sky is the limit.

To be honest I expected that the actual count would be boring, but it's the most exciting time of the night. Neal has a spreadsheet set up which will give immediate percentages. The man sitting next to me has a list of all the towns to record the votes. My district leader has a piece of paper divided in half and is frantically writing down numbers. Everyone is working together, double checking for accuracy. Whenever Lamont gets significant support from a town our section cheers.

I love how people introduce their towns. Of course everyone thinks they have the prettiest town in CT or the best place to visit, but some of the blurbs are just bizarre. One person says that their town is the 57th best place to live in the state. It's often fairly obvious which candidate a town chair supports even if that town's votes are evenly split.

Thanks to Neal Fink I know that Ned has around 33% before the official count is announced. Lieberman killed in the cities, but Ned fared better with smaller towns I think. I'd love to see a breakdown by population at some point. Many Lieberman supporters seem genuinely surprised by the results. DiNardo came out and made Lieberman's convention endorsement official, but most people are headed out of the room at that point, myself included.

It was an unexpected evening but I had a great time. My one regret was not being able to meet many of the bloggers that I knew were also attending. There just wasn't time to contact anyone before I left and I didn't know where or who anyone was. Most of my photos didn't turn out well, but I have the few that did posted here.

Deadlock

I've been on the floor, and there seems to be very, very little movement in either direction. There are labor supporters of DeStefano demonstrating in favor of their candidate. Right now candidate whips are circulating, keeping tabs on the count.

I talked to a couple of delegates who said they'd be happy if there was a combined ticket (either Malloy/DeStefano or the other way around). Not going to happen.

The press conference announcing DeStefano's running mate is soon. I'll let you know as soon as I hear who that's going to be.

There's been some dealing going on, but very little. I'm going to head back to the floor and see if anything is changing.

Convention Saturday

Well, I'm writing from the convention, again, but this time with a somewhat better view. The people running the convention were gracious enough to issue me a media pass, which means I'm now in the media corral. There's an entrance to it, after all.

Right now, Norma Rodriguez-Reyes is challenging Susan Bysiewicz for the Secretary of the State endorsement. Rodriguez is currently seconding her own nomination--

Chris MC just stopped by to say hi, which was great. I'm happy to meet everyone, finally. I also saw CT Blogger and CT Bob up on the camera stand. Blogs today should be providing excellent coverage. I will do my best to bring you whatever I can.

On the Republican side, disgruntled_republican is at the GOP convention, and will hopefully post later. The Rell campaign is live blogging from that convention.

Rodriguez just brought up the most important point of the day: it's been 20 years since the Democrats won the governorship. The race for the gubernatorial endorsement is "very, very close" according to one delegate.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Lieberman Nominated: Lamont Gets Over 30%

Joe Lieberman was nominated at the Democratic convention on Friday night, but by a smaller margin than many were expecting. An unofficial count of the votes showed Lieberman winning 67%-33%.

The big story may be that Ned Lamont gathered more than twice the number of delegates he needed to force a primary in August. Lamont showed strength especially in small towns, where Lieberman was strongest in the large cities. There were exceptions. Lieberman won many small towns, while Lamont was the clear winner in New Britain and Norwalk.

Now the challenge for Lamont is whether he can close the gap with Lieberman over the next few months.

We're waiting for official word here at the convention, but unoffically, Lieberman is the nominee with 67% of the vote.

Update

Official word just received. Lieberman 1004, Lamont 505. Lamont got 33.4% of the vote.

Messy breakdown by town here (excel file).

Convention Senate Vote

There will now be a roll call vote. I'm going to try to keep up with it. Keep reloading.

Lamont's at about 27%... a long time to go.

Lamont at 28%. 260-103. Granby and Windsor went heavily for Lamont. Now on to the second congressional district.

Lamont at 30%...

Lamont is really doing well in the small towns.

Lamont at 33%. Wow.

This has the makings of an earthquake. Still at 34%. 3rd CD coming up.

The 3rd CD is dragging Lamont's numbers down a little... larger towns are going to Lieberman.

Lamont down to 30%.

4th CD up. The cities are killing Lamont. Bridgeport 55-6 Lieberman.

Down to 30%, but Fairfield went for Lamont. Greenwich 30-19 Lieberman.

Norwalk 148 nfor Lamont. 32%.

Stamford 37-13 Lieberman. 31.7%.

4th District done. Lamont now has 31% of delegates who have voted, according to my count. 875-396 Lieberman right now.

New Britain for Lamont 24-7. 32%.


Update

All right. That's it. Lamont got over 30%. Unofficial count has Lamont at a little over 33%, although that is probably incorrect by a digit or two. This is just the running count I've been keeping.

If it holds up, it's what Lamont needed for a primary and more. Double, in fact.

Impressive showing by Lamont. Much better than I thought he'd do.

2006 Democratic Convention: Friday

Nancy DiNardo is welcoming the delegates to the convention... Man, I'm far away.

DiNardo is giving quite the speech... but there's too much noise and commotion for me to really hear very well. The focus of the speech seems to be that "It's our turn" now, meaning the Democrats' time.

To Rell: "Isn't it about time you took responsibility for something--anything?"

Update 6:30

Eddie Perez is giving the the opening address. I still am having trouble hearing him. I am next to a large pillar with signs on it...

Update 6:35

Town delegations that have not done so are electing chairs and recording secretaries. It could take a while.

Oh, and the Hartford delegation was seated. We'll see if that matters tomorrow.

Update 6:41

I just looked around and realized that I was surrounded by a forest of Lieberman signs. They're planning a big show of support for him.

An odd rule about "demonstrations" on behalf of a candidate says: "The participants in a demonstration shall be limited to the delegates and a uniformed band." Like a marching band? I really hope someone has one of those.

I'm sitting so far away because I have a "Guest" pass and not a "Media" pass. I can't get on the floor, but have to stay in the very back of the hall. I can see, sort of.

Senate nomination's getting started.

Update 6:45

Max Medina and the Rev. Allie Perry are placing Lamont's name in nomination. The nomination of Ned Lamont is bringing some cheers...

The speech is an introduction to Lamont and what Lamont believes... some very clear things like a woman's right to choose and universal health care. Iraq came up early.

And there goes his mike.

Update 6:48

The speaker's mike is back on.

No real attacks on Lieberman in this speech.

Nominating Lamont is a "message to America" and the Bush administration in particular. Change.

Update 6:51

Lamont is being compared by the speaker to Abe Ribicoff in Chicago 1968, "Because Ned Lamont knows America is on the wrong path."

Update 6:52

"COnnecticut needs not just one but two senators who will stand up and say 'This war must end."

He's asking delegates to vote their consciences, and "not to be bullied".

The end of the speech brought a lot of cheers and chants of "Ned, Ned, Ned."

15% is looking more likely.

Here comes Annie Lamont.

Update 6:54

People are talking over Annie Lamont's introduction to Ned (this is the seconding speech)which is too bad.

Update 6:58

The nomination of Lamont is complete. There seems to be a quick break...

Update 7:01

Here comes Chris Dodd to place Joe Lieberman's name in nomination.

Update 7:04

Nice of Dodd to give a nod to Lamont.

Scattered boos but lots of applause for Lieberman's nomination. Nothing really more than lukewarm.

Update 7:08

Dodd sounds hoarse. But he's just as strong and fiery as ever. I'm seeing a guy with a sign saying that labor "calls Joe a friend."

Update 7:11

Dodd is encouraging delegates to "Stand up for Lieberman." A lot did, but not all.

Also, there are dueling chants of "We Want Joe" and "Joe Must Go!"

Update 7:17

John Fabrizi is speaking now. Lieberman supporters all seem pretty confident. Someone near me said that "Lamont has 15 votes."

There are Lieberman volunteers near me with thunder-stix.

We may disagree on the war, but we have to support the troops? Wait, what?

Update 7:20

Fabrizi said that this election is "about Connecticut, and Joe Lieberman has consistently delivered for Connecticut."

Update 7:23

Fabrizi is done. Voting soon.

New Thread for Vote: See there!

Convention Updates

Okay. I'm here, and I'm posting.

Parking was no good, but the credential-getting process went just fine. There is a huge barbecue outside--apparently put on by the Lieberman campaign. Also, it seems like each campaign invested in a big RV.

Need to conserve my laptop's batteries... I'll keep checking in with more as it happens.

Update 6:05pm

Okay, it took me a while to find a place to plug my laptop in, but I managed it (dead battery). I stopped at the Lieberman table to chat before heading in. They were young and enthusiastic, although they didn't want to comment on the Lamont campaign at all.

I'm seeing a lot of Lieberman supporters. A LOT of Lieberman supporters.

Hey, I saw Wolf Blitzer! Neat. The national press is here for tonight, I assume, and will be long gone tomorrow. Maybe I can steal one of their spaces in the media corral.

The corral, by the way, really is just that. There are no visible entrances or exits, except maybe one near the fire door. They, at least, have power.

Someone is practicing banging those thunder-stix together. Lieberman supporters. Interesting.

I'll keep updating. Watch this space. Hey, wasn't it supposed to start at 6:00? Huh.

Update 6:08pm

Okay, people are being told to take their seats. The floor is starting to fill up.

I'm going to start a new thread.

Convention Today

So the Democratic State Convention starts tonight. I'll be doing my best to cover the event. What will probably happen is that I'll post quick updates and happenings tonight and tomorrow, and then work on longer stories to be posted Sunday and Monday.

As for what I think will happen tonight: Lamont should get his 15%. Whether he'll get much more than that is debatable. If he gets over 25%, it'll be pretty shocking. Expect the Lieberman campaign to trumpet the margin of victory, no matter what it is.

Tomorrow: I'd say John DeStefano has the edge. His announcement of a running mate tomorrow will help him keep that edge, and he should win the convention by a respectable, if not overwhelming, margin. DeStefano has been regaining some of the momentum that he had lost over the past six months, in part due to a staff transfusion, a new website and a much more aggressive approach.

For both the Senate and Gubernatorial contests, this is only round one. But it should be fun to watch.

If you're going to be at the convention, stop by and say hello.

Malloy Selects Mary Glassman as Running Mate

Dan Malloy will officially announce the selection of Mary Glassman, former Simsbury First Selectwoman and chief of staff to Lt. Gov Kevin Sullivan, as his running mate in a press conference this afternoon.
"Mary Glassman has dedicated her life to public service, working hard to make our state a better place," said Malloy. "She has experience in state government and as a local elected official. She will be a tremendous partner to me, both in this campaign and governing this state, and I am proud that she will join my ticket as our candidate for Lt. Governor."

"Mary began her political career by pulling off a stunning political upset by beating an incumbent Republican to win an office that no Democrat had won for decades -- and I know that together she and I are going to do it again!" said Malloy. (Malloy)

There is a lengthy biography and resume of Glassman included in the press release. For your reference, I'll post it in the comment section.

Glassman seems to be someone that a lot of party insiders know. She's also from suburban Hartford County and the very edge of the 5th Congressional District), although it's worth noting that the Farmington Valley is deep in the heart of Rell Country. So, a solid choice, although not a mind-blowing one.

We'll see what DeStefano does tomorrow.

Source

"Dan Malloy chooses Mary Glassman to be running mate; Former First Selectman of Simsbury and long-time progressive activist." Press Release. Dan Malloy for Governor. 19 May, 2006.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"Pony Up, Czarina"

Former Ethics Czar: Moody Contined to Pass Out Invitations Despite Warning

The hearings into the events surrounding the fundraiser at the Marco Polo in December are continuing, although it's sometimes hard to tell. They've been lost in the manic pre-convention shuffle.

This is too bad. Some remarkable things have been said. For example, the chief of staff, Lisa Moody, said the following yesterday:
Moody further testified that ... she was not aware of a state law banning those officials from soliciting political contributions. That ban was referenced in an Oct. 19 memo that Rachel Rubin, then Rell's special ethics counsel, explained during a meeting Moody attended.

"I was not hanging on her every word," Moody said. "I was not paying attention."
...
Even though Moody's name was on the May 2 memo, she said Rubin was the principal author. She also signed an official acknowledgment, as other staff employees were required to do, saying she'd received and would obey the memo.

But, Moody testified, "I did not fully read, and comprehend and absorb this memo. ... I didn't take the time to read it - despite the fact it had my name on it. ... I made a mistake in having signed it, saying I had. ... I did not read it and memorize it. I admit that. And I was wrong not to." (Lender)

Then today Rachael Rubin, former "ethics czar", said this:
"I told her I didn't think it appropriate to hand out invitations in the office. I told her about the appearance of someone observing that might not approve, or say she was conducting campaign activities in the office ... She said that she would not do it again."
...
Sen. Edward Meyer, D-Guilford, vice chairman of the legislature's Government Administration and Elections Committee, then asked Rubin, "She did do it again, didn't she?"

"I did not observe her doing it," Rubin said, "but apparently she did." (AP)

Moody must not have been paying attention then, either. She even sent an invitation to a Rell campaign event to Rubin, with the words "Pony up, Czarina" (a reference to Rubin's unofficial title) written on it.

Don Williams asked the crucial question:
The question Gov. Rell must now answer is, 'Is it really believable that Lisa Moody didn't know what she was doing?' And if Moody is not believable under oath, can she continue to serve as chief of staff?"(AP)

Gov. Rell has restated her trust in Moody's credibility, saying that her own trust in Moody is what "counts the most."

Nonsense.

Being moral and ethical is about making hard choices. It's about putting what's right, proper and ethical above friends, family or even your own best interests. The need for members of the governor's staff to act in a forthright, ethical and upstanding manner, especially following the Rowland scandal, should come before the governor's friendship with Lisa Moody.

It's time to be stern, Governor, and make the hard choice. Moody isn't credible at all anymore, and she has either just lied or displayed an astonishing disinterest in campaign ethics to a legislative committee.

It's time for her to go. At this point, it's the right thing to do.

Sources

Lender, Jon. "Moody: `I Was Not Aware'." Hartford Courant 18 May, 2006.

"Rell's former ethics czar says she warned Moody about invitations." Associated Press 18 May, 2006.