Thursday, August 31, 2006

Debates

From the CT Post's Election Blog.

Lieberman, who lost the Democratic primary to businessman Ned Lamont and is now running as an independent, sent letters to Lamont, Republican Alan Schlesinger, Green Party candidate Ralph Ferrucci and Concerned Citizens candidate Timothy Knibbs.

"Voters are eager to know what we will do to solve the problems affecting their daily lives," Lieberman wrote in his letter. He also said the candidates have an opportunity to set "a high standard for a new politics of civil engagement."

Most of the other candidates have already said they're willing to debate.


Personally I like the idea of having all of the candidates on the ballot being invited to the debate. It gives minor parties, who can't afford giant ad buys, a chance to present themselves to the voters. We've already seen Lamont and Lieberman debate face to face anyway.

I'm curious as to why Lieberman would want to debate at all. His performance in the one primary debate was less than stellar, and I won't even get into how terrible the now infamous VP debate was. Joe could potentially lose votes to both Lamont and Schlesinger.

How many debates should take place, and keeping in mind the number of candidates what format should be used?

Source
Associated Press. "Lieberman calls on opponents to debate" Connecticut Post Election '06 Blog. 8/31/06

Lamont Attacks Bush Over Iraq Speech

Ned Lamont reacted to a speech given by President Bush in Utah today with harsh words, calling the president's position on Iraq "stubborn and unrealistic."
"Once again, President Bush demonstrates a stubborn and unrealistic view of how to defeat terrorism and keep Americans safe," said Lamont. "All Americans want victory in Iraq - our security depends on it, and we owe our troops nothing less. Unfortunately, 'staying the course' won't bring us that victory."

"President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld have been wrong since the start of the Iraq war about conditions on the ground and its role in the war on terror," Lamont added. "It's time to take the right steps necessary to allow the Iraqi's to take responsibility for their own future so that the United States can refocus its efforts on the global threat of the war on terror, and threats posed by Iran, North Korea and other dangerous regimes." ("Ned Lamont")

The release from the Lamont campaign pointed out the positions of Rep. Chris Shays (R-4th District), who has long been a staunch supporter of the war but now supports a timetable for withdrawal, and others like Rep. John Murtha and Jim Webb as evidence of growing discontent with the way the war is being handled.

As this release shows, the decision by Chris Shays to support a timetable, which is a subtle but very significant softening of his position on the war, leaves Joe Lieberman looking more and more alone on the issue, and helps Lamont tie him to the president's increasingly unpopular Iraq policies. The country, by and large, is unhappy with the way the war is going, and that discontent is going to cost some politicans their jobs. Shays doesn't want to be one of them.

Lieberman, apparently, is willing to risk it. For now.

Source
"Ned Lamont Responds to Bush's Stay the Course Speech on Iraq." Press Release. Ned Lamont for Senate. 31 August, 2006. (no link yet)

Gabe on Leave

Gabe is going to be taking a leave of absence from the site for a few months, due to his increased workload for the semester and the interviewing process. He'll be back after Thanksgiving, but we will miss him sorely until then.

That leaves us down one progressive blogger. If you're interested in filling that hole for what should be a very exciting election season, please contact me. I'd like to have someone in place by next week.

Shays on Iraq

From Hotline on Call:
And Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) discussed his Iraq remarks: "I will just go where the truth takes me. And I will live with the silly criticism. But I have been there 14 times. I know more about Iraq than any member of Congress, any senator. I go there every three months."

More Shays: "I think the president does have timelines. He's just not sharing it with people, the way he needs to" ("PZ Now," CNN, 8/30).

Shays is grabbing for the center on Iraq, which was the issue that hurt him the most. Diane Farrell's move.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

General Assembly 2006: Races to Watch (August 30th)

This is an updated list of legislative races worth watching this fall. This post is a little different from previous watch lists: as I'll be linking directly to the district page in the 2006 Election wiki. From there, feel free to make changes and updates as you will. The password is election.

Races to Watch: State Senate

Senate District 7 - East Granby, Enfield, Granby, Somers, Suffield, Windsor (part), Windsor Locks
Kissel (R) and Kiner (D) face off again in what is sure to be a tight race.

Senate District 9 - Newington, Wethersfield, Cromwell, Middletown (part), Rocky Hill
There's a lot of interest in this race. The district leans Democratic.

Senate District 12 - Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison, N. Branford
Hannon (R) is running a spirited race against Sen. Meyer (D) so far.

Senate District 14 - Milford, Orange, West Haven (part)
Barbara Lisman (R) is facing first-term Sen. Gayle Slossberg (D)

Senate District 16 - Cheshire (part), Southington, Waterbury (part), Wolcott
Caliguiri (R) and Zoni (D) are both raising a ton of money, although Caliguiri is doing much better so far.

Senate District 18 - Griswold, Groton, N. Stonington, Plainfield, Preston, Sterling, Stonington, Voluntown
Andy Maynard (D) and Lenny Winkler (R) are competing for an open seat vacated by Sen. Cathy Cook (R).

Senate District 20 - East Lyme, Montville (part), New London, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook (part), Salem, Waterford
Chris Oliviera (R) is running strongly against Sen. Stillman (D).

Senate District 21 - Monroe (part), Seymour (part), Shelton, Stratford (part)
Jones (D) and Debicella (R) are competing for outgoing Sen. "Doc" Gunther's (R) seat.

Senate District 22 - Bridgeport (part), Monroe, Trumbull (part)
Sen. Finch (D) faces a challenge from Robert Russo (R).

Senate District 31 - Bristol, Harwinton (part), Plainville, Plymouth
Beverly Bobroske (R) has raised a lot of money in her campaign against Sen. Tom Colapietro (D).

Races to Watch: State House of Representatives

House District 2 - Bethel (part), Danbury (part), Redding (part)
This district saw one of the closest races of 2004.

House District 19 - Avon (part), Farmington (part), West Hartford (part)
Bob Farr's district. Beth Bye (D) looks strong here.

House District 30 - Berlin (part), Southington (part)
Edward Pocock (R) is facing Rep. Joe Aresimowicz (D).

House District 37 - East Lyme, Salem
Paul Formica (R) is doing well raising money against Rep. Jutila (D).

House District 38 - Montville (part), Waterford
Brian Vachris (R) is challenging Rep. Ritter (D), in what should be an aggressive campaign from both sides.

House District 50 - Brooklyn, Eastford, Hampton, Pomfret, Woodstock
Rep. Alberts (R) won his seat in 2004 by only 48 votes (0.44%). He is facing Sherri Vogt (D).

House District 58 - Enfield (part)
Sue Lavelli-Hozempa (R) has reportedly been working hard in her campaign against entrenched Rep. Kathy Tallarita (D). Might be worth watching.

House District 59 - Enfield (part)
In my home district, Rep. Steve Jarmoc's wife Karen Jarmoc (D) is running for his seat as he leaves the field. This is reportedly causing some grumbling, and may benefit challenger Charles Woods (R).

House District 61 - East Granby (part), Suffield, Windsor (part)
Derek Donnelly (D) is running a very strong race against longtime incumbent Ruth Fahrbach (R).

House District 79 - Bristol (part)
This race is actually a lot less interesting now that the primary is over.

House District 86 - East Haven (part), North Branford, Wallingford (part)
Vincent J. Candelora (R) seems to be doing well against Ashley Clow Joiner (D) in this race for GOP leader Robert Ward's old seat.

House District 100 - Durham, Middlefield, Middletown (part)
This district was pretty close (under 3%) in 2004, but things may be different this year.

House District 101 - Guilford (part), Madison
First term Rep. Deborah Heinrich (D) may face a tough fight from Noreen Kokoruda (R) in a heavily Republican area.

House District 104 - Ansonia (part), Derby (part)
J.R. Romano (R) is doing well raising funds against Rep. Linda Gentile (D).

House District 120 - Stratford (part)
Democrat Dave Mooney has raised a lot more money than his opponent Rep. John Harkins (R). One to watch.

House District 132 - Fairfield (part)
Chris DeSanctis (R) is challenging Rep. Drew (D), and both have raised significant amounts of money.

House District 134 - Fairfield (part), Trumbull (part)
Rep. Jack Stone was defeated for the first selectman's post in Fairfield last year, so he may be vulnerable.

House District 136 - Westport (part)
Businessman Bill Harris (R) is facing Rep. Joe Mioli (D), who won by a narrow margin in 2004.

Please suggest additions, or make changes to these pages at the CT Election site! You can also check out some recent fundraising numbers for House and Senate races.

Smart, Thin and Rich

What's this? Good news about Connecticut?
So, in order, here are the states with the 5 best and 5 worst average rankings:

Best

CO 40.67
MN 40.00
UT 39.67
WI 39.33
CT 38.67

Worst

SC 7.33
TX 8.00
WV 10.00
GA 10.67
MS 11.67

I'm glad we're in the top 5 for something positive for once.

Of course, you'd think that having a lot of money and intelligence lying around would make for a slightly better economy. Oh, well. No one's saying it's a particularly meaningful list.

Open Forum

Don't forget to check out the CT Election 2006 directory: I've been putting new stuff up over there. I will remind you that it's a wiki, which means that you can (and should!) add information about the races you know best.

What else is happening today?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

CT Census Data on Poverty and Health Insurance

Connecticut Voice for Children has issued a press release highlighting survey data from the US Census Bureau with information about Connecticut. They have set up a page of additional information here which breaks down the results by city, county, and congressional district.

Some highlights as quoted from the release:


  • In 2005, 9.3% of Connecticut residents (326,000) had incomes under the Federal Poverty Level ($19,961 for a family of four). For the two-year period of 2004-05, the poverty rate increased significantly from 7.5% in 2000/2001 to 9.7% in 2004-2005. This increase occurred despite the state's recent economic recovery.


  • In 2005, 12.4% of Connecticut children under 18 (103,000 children) lived in families with incomes under the Federal Poverty Level, a slight, but not statistically significant increase from the levels of recent years despite the state's economic recovery. Further, the 2005 Connecticut child poverty estimate represents no progress over the 1990 child poverty rate of 10.4%, despite record-low unemployment in the 1990s, ten straight years of growth in productivity in Connecticut's economy, and an aggressive 10-year effort to move welfare recipients into the workforce.


  • In addition, the Census Bureau reported that 11.3% (394,000) of Connecticut residents in 2005 were without health insurance coverage for the entire previous 12-month period. For the two-year period of 2004-05, the percentage of uninsured residents increased significantly from 10% in 2000/2001 to 11.3% in 2004-2005. This increase occurred despite the state's recent economic recovery.


  • In 2005, among Connecticut children under 18, 8.2% (68,000 children) were uninsured for the entire year, unchanged from the recent years, despite signs of an improving Connecticut economy. In Connecticut, 76.4% of residents were covered by employer-based or privately-purchased insurance in 2005.




In response to this Connecticut Voices for Children wants the CT Congressional delegation to oppose the repeal of the Estate tax, oppose funding cuts that would most affect low-income families, and protect federal funding for childcare, energy assistance, and K-12 programs that promote the health and well-being of Connecticut residents.

********

Healthcare is a frequently debated topic among candidates but they don't spend as time on poverty. Lamont touched on it while appearing with Senator Edwards a few weeks ago but otherwise local politicians from both parties rarely mention it. In many ways it's easier to debate issues that affect poverty rather than poverty itself.

How should politicians approach this? Is it enough to discuss related issues or is a direct approach more appropriate?

Source
Sullivan, Michael. "Census Bureau: increase in CT poverty & uninsured ". Connecticut Voices for Children Press Release. 8/29/06

Gubernatorial Poll

Since this race actually crept out of the shadows today, how about a poll?

If the election for governor were held today, for which candidate would you most likely vote?
John DeStefano (D)
Jodi Rell (R)
I don't know
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Rell, DeStefano Spar over Head Start

John DeStefano today attacked Gov. Rell over her record on Head Start, pointing to a decline in state funding for the program and the fact that Rell had voted against Head Start funding while in the state legislature. From the DeStefano press release:
Standing with students, teachers, and school administrators today in Bridgeport, John DeStefano, Democratic nominee for governor, called on Gov. Rell to adequately fund Head Start and give every child the opportunity to succeed in school.

“There are more than 17,000 three and four year-olds without access to pre-k right now,” said DeStefano. “Under Gov. Rell funding for Head Start has actually declined since 2002. This is not surprising considering she was one of only 7 legislators to vote against Head Start in 1992. If Gov. Rell has her way, it would take another 36 years to find coverage for all those kids. State Rep. Jodi Rell didn’t get it then and Gov. Rell doesn’t get it now.”

Gov. Rell’s opposition to Head Start is not new; as a state legislator, Jodi Rell voted against SB 138, a bill that provided funding for Head Start. Rell was one of 7 legislators, out of 140, who voted against the bill in 1992. The Act Concerning Head Start Program Quality and Allocation of Funding and the Duties of the Child Day Care Council passed with strong bipartisan support. Fifty eight Republicans voted for the bill and only 6 did not – Rell being one of them. (1)

The Rell campaign fired back that DeStefano was misinterpreting the record:
“Pointing to the state subsidies for a federally funded program such as Head Start without taking into account Connecticut’s enormous expenditure elsewhere in early childhood education is disingenuous at best,” Governor Rell said.

“Under my Administration, Connecticut has invested $21 million in early childhood education – more than any previous Governor,” the Governor said. ...

The majority of funding for Head Start comes from the federal government. Connecticut contributes an additional $2.75 million a year for Head Start services and a further $1.77 million for Head Start enhancements (capital improvements, supplies and other needs).

At the same time, Connecticut offers a School Readiness Program that mirrors Head Start in many ways but offers increased flexibility. (2)

The release offered no explanation for the governor's vote against Head Start funding in 1992.

Update 8:27pm

Correction from earlier update: the Rell campaign has stated that Rell does not remember the specifics of the bill as it was a long time ago, but that the bill itself did not, as DeStefano claims, provide funding for Head Start. Instead, the bill was concerned with administrative changes to Head Start that would have placed the education commissioner in charge of the program (instead of the human resources commissioner) and required that "at least 25% of the grant funding go to enhancing program quality."

Sources

1. "Records Reveal that Jodi Rell was one of Only 7 Lawmakers to Vote Against Head Start." Press Release. DeStefano for Connecticut. 29 August, 2006.

2. "Gov. Rell's REAL Record on Early Childhood Education." Press Release. Jodi Rell '06. 29 August, 2006.

DeStefano Catching Up?

The Courant is reporting on a new Zogby poll showing John DeStefano drawing to within 17% of Gov. Jodi Rell:
a new Zogby International poll showed DeStefano trailing Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell by 17 percentage points - a far closer margin than the 32-point spread shown recently by the Quinnipiac University poll. (Keating)

The Rell campaign questioned the poll's methodology:
Rell's campaign immediately raised questions about the reliability and methodology of the Zogby survey, which referred incorrectly to the New Haven mayor as "Stefano" instead of DeStefano.

"That right there gives you an idea of the accuracy of their polling," said Rich Harris, Rell's campaign spokesman. "It just doesn't track with any of the other polls that anyone has taken."

The DeStefano campaign had been unaware of the results and expressed optimism that the race might be closer than expected.

"Zogby's got a good name," spokesman Derek Slap said. "This is consistent with what everybody thinks is going to happen - that this will tighten." (Keating)

The poll probably isn't all that accurate, although it may be correct in showing a narrowing of the race. The breakdown by party, which was available in the print version of the Courant, showed most Democrats preferred DeStefano, while almost all Republicans and a solid majority of independents favored Rell. Unfortunately for DeStefano, this is probably where things will remain--if in fact it's even this close.

Source
Keating, Christopher. "A Union Boost For Lamont, DeStefano." Hartford Courant 29 August, 2006.

Monday, August 28, 2006

RTCs Start Dropping Schlesinger

Not a huge surprise:
Local Republican committees are starting to follow the lead of their rank and file in Connecticut by abandoning the quixotic Senate candidacy of Republican Alan Schlesinger. On August 11th, the Killingworth Republican Town Committee voted to withdraw its endorsement of Schlesinger.

The real question is who they might endorse in his place. Kevin Rennie seems to think they might endorse Lieberman. Could be interesting if they do.

Union Switch

From Tim over at the Lamont Campaign Blog:

SEIU32BJ becomes the first union to split and endorse Ned Lamont post-primary after endorsing Joe pre-primary.

“32BJ is the largest property service workers union in the United States.”


Anyone care to speculate about what other unions might follow their lead?

Senate Poll

Political Wire reports on a WSJ/Zogby poll showing Lieberman leading Lamont by ten points: 49.4% to 39.4%.

Schlesinger is getting 2.1%: below the margin of error. Ouch.

Dodd to Visit Iowa, New Hampshire

Sen. Chris Dodd will be heading out to Iowa and New Hampshire next month to test the presidential waters, according to the Courant. His biggest problems right now are his late start, and low name recognition:
Earlier this month, at least six candidates visited the Iowa State Fair, a favorite and well-publicized stop for political hopefuls. A local television station poll at the fair found former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, the party's 2004 vice presidential nominee, and New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton tied among Democrats with 33 percent each.

Dodd was not among the 10 candidates mentioned in the survey.

However, as the article mentions, Dodd is well-known among some of the party faithful because of his brief stint as the head of the DNC during the mid-1990s (a glorious time for Democrats), and he has already raised about $2 million. He also has good connections in New Hampshire and has the added benefit of being a northeasterner, although that didn't help Joe Lieberman.

I suspect that it won't help Dodd, either. The only northeastern senator with a shot this time around is Hillary Clinton, and Dodd is not a convincing alternative to her.

We'll keep an eye on the Dodd campaign as it develops, although a lukewarm reception next month could spell its end.

Source
Lightman, David. "Dodd To Test Waters." Hartford Courant 28 August, 2006.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Shays Comments on Iraq: 2002-Present

The following are quotes made by Rep. Christopher Shays (R-4th CD) on the war in Iraq.


"The dangers we face may never be clear again. The mere existence of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of despots, tyrants and terrorists constitutes an imminent threat to our security." –Chris Shays, October 2002 (1)

"I find it funny how bellicose Chris Shays, a Peace Corps guy, has been these days when someone like me who's been in a war zone is just much more hesitant.” –Rob Simmons, October 2002 (2)

"This crisis has to be resolved now, not two, three or four years from now ... Regrettably, the world community remains divided, but the consequences of allowing Saddam Hussein to continue to manipulate the world community and develop his weapons of mass destruction are just too great." –Chris Shays, March 2003 (3)

"We now have to win the peace in Iraq and that's going to be very difficult ... If we fail to bring some stability to that area, then the whole effort will have been marred." –Chris Shays, following his first trip to Iraq in April 2003 (4)

"If we don't get the electricity and other things running, there will be many more problems.” –Chris Shays, encouraging the Administration to speed up its rebuilding efforts, during his second visit to Iraq in August, 2003. (5)

"The provisional authority has got more things in place ... There is no question we waited too long to do some of this stuff, but it is starting to happen." –Shays reporting on progress in Iraq during his third trip to the region in December 2003. (6)

"If this is their revolution, they [Iraqis] have to have a greater part in it ... They need to be listened to and no one is listening to them." –Shays, during his third visit to Iraq in December, 2003. (7)

"We met with six of the 25 members of the governing council and they have given me a lot more hope for what we can accomplish ... They said they're not going to be asking for more time, that they're up for the job." – Shays, during his fourth trip to Iraq in January, 2004. The governing council was the Iraqi body to which sovereignty was handed in May 2004 (8)

"We want to be out of Iraq and we want Iraq to govern itself." –Shays, speaking with Arab TV during the Republican National Convention, September 2004 (9)

"I believe with all my heart and soul the battle of terrorism is being fought in Iraq right now.” –Chris Shays, in a debate with Diane Farrell, October 2004 (10)

"To suggest somehow that President Bush should have known all this intelligence was false is not justified. It would have been foolish and irresponsible not to act. Saddam wanted us to think that he had weapons of mass destruction." –Shays, attacking Democrats in October, 2004 (11)

''When people say I don't understand what Saddam Hussein had to do with Sept. 11, I don't understand the question. It's like saying I don't understand what Adolf Hitler had to do with Pearl Harbor.'' –Shays, during a debate with Farrell in October 2004 (12)

"It is amazing to think of what is happening in these 20 months." –Shays, visiting Iraq for the seventh time to observe the Iraqi elections in January, 2005. (13)

"My own sense is that it is going to take a few years to get their police and army to the point where we would be able to totally back off." Shays, during his seventh visit to Iraq, February 2005 (14)

"We need to set some benchmarks and have a dialogue about that." Shays in June, 2005. Shays also said that setting a timetable would be a “mistake.” (15)

"I'm coming back pretty optimistic." Shays speaking about his tenth visit to Iraq, which preceded the Iraqi constitutional referendum, October 2005. (16)

"He is one of the few Democrats who is not making politics with the Iraq war." –Shays, referring to Joe Lieberman in March, 2006 (17)

"This is an issue of principle. Chris believes the war is the right thing to do." Shays campaign manager Michael Sohn, March 2006. (18)

I believe very strongly we can't pull our troops out as quickly as Americans want us to ... I'm having every expert on terror I talk to say the last thing you do to terrorists is give them a timetable.'' –Shays, April 2006 (19)

“I don't believe that this would even be a close election [for me] if it wasn't for Iraq. I accept that. If I lost over Iraq, I would be unhappy; but I would live with the knowledge that I've taken what I believe to be the right stand. The war in Iraq is a noble effort we can't afford to lose.'' –Shays in June, 2006 (20)

“I'd like to say I see light at the end of the tunnel, but I'm pessimistic about what I'll probably be reporting.” –Shays in August, 2006, preparing to leave for his 14th visit to Iraq. (21)

"Our troops cannot be there indefinitely. ... We should be able to tell the American people what kind of timeline we can have to begin to draw down our troops. It may be a timeline the American people don't want to hear. It may not be something that brings them out quickly." –Shays, following his 14th visit to Iraq in August, 2006. (22)

“A timeline is not an exit strategy.” –Diane Farrell, responding to Shays’ call for a timeline, August 2006 (23)

-------------------------------
Sources

1. Urban, Peter. “Bush wins over Congress on support for Iraqi war.” Connecticut Post 3 October, 2002.

2. Urban, Peter. “Simmons apologizes to Shays for 'bellicose' characterization.” Connecticut Post 6 October, 2002.

3. “State Prepares for War.” Associated Press 17 March, 2003.

4. “Shays says Iraq rebuilding, Palestinian-Israel conflict urgent.” Associated Press 28 April, 2003.

5. Urban, Peter. “Shays calls for speedier rebuilding; Says Bush must push Iraqi plans.” Connecticut Post 28 August, 2003.

6. Urban, Peter. “Shays reports progress in Iraq; Has no protection in 3rd trip to area.” Connecticut Post 6 December, 2003.

7. “Lawmakers call for more Iraqi involvement in their nation's rebuilding.” Associated Press 10 December, 2003.

8. Baldor, Lolita. “Shays, lawmakers are first to stay overnight in Baghdad.” Associated Press 5 January, 2004.

9. Urban, Peter. “Shays faces blunt questions on controversial Arab TV.” Connecticut Post 3 September, 2004.

10. “Shays, Farrell square off in first debate in 4th District.” Associated Press 5 October, 2004.

11. “Iraq verdict fuels firestorm.” Connecticut Post 7 October, 2004

12. Cowan, Alison Leigh. “Using Iraq, a Challenger From Westport Has a Washington Veteran on the Defensive.” New York Times 10 October, 2004.

13. Urban, Peter. “Iraq vote witnessed by Shays.” Connecticut Post 31 January, 2005.

14. Urban, Peter. “Shays: Iraq needs continued U.S. support.Connecticut Post 1 February, 2005.

15. Urban, Peter. “Pressure builds on Bush to set Iraq timetable.” Connecticut Post 17 June, 2005.

16. Urban, Peter. “Returning Shays optimistic on voting outlook for Iraq.” Connecticut Post 12 October, 2005.

17. “Shays says he intends to vote for Lieberman.” Associated Press 1 March, 2006.

18. Christoffersen, John. “Shays faces tough race over Iraq war.” Associated Press 9 March, 2006.

19. Lightman, David. “Dodd, Shays see reason for Optimism.” Hartford Courant 22 April, 2006.

20. Buck, Rinker. “Out of Step: Why Chris Shays, Fairfield County’s Fiercely Independent Congressman, is Putting his Political Life on the Line over Iraq.” Hartford Courant 11 June, 2006.

21. Lightman, David. “Rivals Sound More Alike; Shays, Farrell Both Pessimistic on Iraq Outlook.” Hartford Courant 19 August, 2006.

22. Miga, Andrew. “Shays says U.S. should consider time frame for troop withdrawals.” Associated Press 24 August, 2006.

23. Pazniokas, Mark. “Shays’ Shift Causes a Stir.” Hartford Courant 26 August, 2006.

Sunday Open Forum

Cpl. Jordan C. Pierson, a marine from Milford was killed incombat in Iraq yesterday.

****

Both Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont have op-ed pieces in today's Hartdord Courant.


What else is going on?

Source

Lieberman, Joseph. "A Team Player". Hartfod Courant. 8/27/06

Lamont, Ned. "What Voters Want From Their Senator". Hartfod Courant. 8/27/06

Brown, Marian Gail and Perrefort, Dirk. "Marine from Milford killed in Iraq" Connecticut Post. 8/26/06

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Shays Shakes Things Up



I don't have much in the way of commentary. Mostly I'm curious about how Shays' new view will affect the 4th district and other races around the state.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Lamont Meets with Senator Clinton

Ned Lamont met with Senator Hillary Clinton at her home in Chappaqua, NY today to discuss how she can aid his campaign. According to Lamont campaign manager Tom Swan, who was present at the meeting, Senator Clinton and Mr. Lamont also discussed issues that both Connecticut and New York shared including security.

Swan said that Clinton was "genuinely impressed" with Ned Lamont and pledged her full support to his campaign. In addition to raising funds Clinton is lending advisor Howard Wolfson to Lamont's campaign.

Ms. Clinton may campaign for Lamont in Connecticut but as of yet nothing has been set up. The Lamont campaign said that the ball was in their court and that Clinton would be happy to come for any event they might plan.

Shays Cites Lamont's reasoning on Iraq Timetable for withdrawal

Today's Washington Post reports that Rep. Chris Shays now favors a timetable for troop withdrawal and feels that most of said withdrawal could take place within the next year. The Lamont campaign pointed out that Rep. Shays position on Iraq was now in line with Lamont's own. In a press release Lamont said: "I'm pleased that Congressman Shays now understands the importance of changing course and is talking about a timetable to withdraw our troops."

In a conference call with the media Lamont Campaign Manager Tom Swan and Chairman of the Campaign George Jepson called on Senator Joe Lieberman to object to Rep. Shays calls for withdrawal with as much vigor as it has Lamont's similar views. They want Lieberman to clarify his own position on Iraq as well as whether or not he agreed with Shays who has visited Iraq several times previously.

When reached for comment Senator Lieberman offered that he would "take a look" at what Shays proposed.

In her own press release Rep. Shays opponent Diane Farrell questioned Shays's change of position saying, "“Chris Shays has been to Iraq 14 times. Thirteen times he came home saying things were great. Now all of a sudden he sees what I've been saying for years. I find that quite curious."

I'll have more from the conference call up this evening, including details about this afternoon's meeting betwwen Lamont and Senator Hillary Clinton.

Edit 5:38PM: I inadvertantly misidentified George Jepson's title. A correction has been made to the text.

Sources
Swan, Tom. "Ned Lamont Reiterates Call to Bring Our Brave Troops Home
Republican Chris Shays Echoes Lamont, Lieberman "Taking a Look" at Shays Plan
". Official Campaign Press Release. 8/25/06

Asthana, Anuska. "Shays Urges Iraq Withdrawal". Washington Post. 8/25/06

Spiegel, Jan Ellen. "FARRELL TO SHAYS: A PHONE CALL TO REPORTERS DOESNÂ’T CHANGE HISTORY". Official Campaign Press Release. 8/25/06

Plan B and Connecticut

Plan B will soon be available over the counter for women over the age of 18. Today's Courant has an article considering what that means for the emergency contraception debate here at home.


"Today's decision is welcome news, but it does not improve emergency contraception access at Connecticut hospitals," said Laura Cordes, director of policy and advocacy at Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services Inc., a coalition of nine rape counseling programs.
****
Rape counselors also said that without a law requiring hospitals to give a full dose of Plan B in the emergency room, little will change for rape victims. Although Connecticut's four Catholic hospitals have come under fire, Cordes said non-Catholic hospitals have also been reluctant about providing the drug.

Preliminary figures gathered by Sexual Assault Crisis Services show that in the first six months of 2006, four in 10 victims accompanied to Connecticut hospitals by rape crisis counselors were not given a complete dose of Plan B. Some were given prescriptions, while others were given one dose and a prescription for the second pill, which must be swallowed 12 hours later.

Victims who did not get complete access to the pills were treated at both Catholic and non-Catholic hospitals, Cordes said.


It's great to see the drug become more widely available, but I worry that Connecticut hospitals will use this as another excuse not to make emergency contraception available in the ER for patients who request it.

Source
Waldman, Hillary. "Plan B: Easier Access Allowed". Hartford Courant. 8/25/06

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Open Forum

Quote of the day:

"I did say to Joe on the way in I wasn't going to hug him."

-Jodi Rell, from a bipartisan event at the Sub Base today

What else is happening?

DeStefano Criticizes Rell over CMT Scores

John DeStefano is criticizing Gov. Rell over today's release of the list of elementary and middle schools not making adequate yearly progess under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
John DeStefano – Democratic nominee for governor – responded today to results of the 2006 Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) which show that more than one third of the state’s elementary and middle schools failed to meet the standards of the No Child Left Behind law. All told, 290 schools made the list, nearly double the amount from one year ago. According to Connecticut Voices for Children, Connecticut is one of the 10 states with the worst racial disparities in high school graduation rates.

“Gov. Rell presides over one of the worst achievement gaps in the nation,” said DeStefano. “It is shameful that the gap between black and white high school graduation rates and Hispanic and white high school graduation rates is one of the worst in the U.S. and looking at these test scores it is evident that more of our children are being left behind each and every year. As governor, I would implement the tenets of my Every Child Reads by Third Grade proposal – including universal pre-k for all 3 and 4 year-olds.” ("More")

The list of failing schools is daunting, to be sure. But Jodi Rell is not solely to blame. In fact, while the Rell Administration does indeed deserve some of the blame for this lengthy list, there are other, more immediate and more difficult to solve causes to be dealt with.

Question: What makes a failing school?

Teachers - Teachers almost always get the lion's share of the blame. They're on the front lines every day, they're actually getting paid to directly educate the students and, let's face it, most Americans don't really like them.

There are plenty of bad teachers out there, true enough. How many can you count from your own school days? But even the best teachers can't always overcome all the other forces listed below, and it's getting harder every year.

Parents and Home Life - Parents are a wild card. Some parents care about their child's education. A lot more don't. If parents aren't around, or they're terrible role models, then the chances are good that the child will come into class with learning the very last thing on his or her mind. If students aren't held accountable at home, the school can do little.

Administration - I have met competent administrators. They do exist. They are, however, rare. Bad administration can lead to low teacher morale, and lax student discipline. Neither helps to create a good learning environment.

There's a reason why private schools work: they can get rid of the worst kids. Public schools can't. Good administrators can compensate for this by enforcing discipline, but most administrators fail.

Teacher's Unions - If you ever wonder why incompetent teachers stick around for years and years, despite everything, this is why. The unions have won few other real victories for teachers, however.

Town Government - Public Schools are run by school districts, which are run by municipalities acting either alone or in concert. Town government is tied to the property tax, increases to which are finding more and more resistance from citizens each year. So towns cut the budget. What else can they do? Besides, of course, finding creative new solutions to their problems, really pooling their resources with other towns (every town in most multi-town districts has its own administrative structure and superintendent, for example) or being willing to cede some of their soverignty to the state.

State Government - State lawmakers with little real knowledge of education continue to pile on standardized test after standardized test, with the end result that students know how to take tests. They know precious little else, however. The state is also responsible for the increasingly heavy paperwork load, and increasingly strict (and sometimes arbitrary) requirements that keep a lot of good people out of teaching. The state is also failing towns by forcing them to rely so heavily on the property tax. It's way past time to uncouple education funding from local property taxes.

Federal Government - NCLB is an unfunded mandate, and it's hated by teachers and state/local governments. But it isn't the only one out there. A lot of the budget of a school district is taken up by special education requirements, which come from both the state and federal level.

The federal government has been content to largely ignore the crisis in public education. No Child Left Behind is a poor fix, at best.

There's a reason why private schools work: they can get rid of the worst kids. Public schools can't.

Society (Us) - There is a strong cultural current in America that tells kids to forget about school. It's always been there. But adults have lately stopped telling kids differently. Television, music and all other kinds of media tell kids that there is nothing worthwhile at school beyond socializing. We fail when we don't correct this perception.


DeStefano is pointing the finger at Gov. Rell, and proposing a few fixes to the problems in our schools. At least it's something. But Rell isn't wholly responsible, and the fixes DeStefano is proposing are probably not enough. The problem is simply too big.

Source
"More than one third of Connecticut’s elementary and middle schools get failing grade / DeStefano: It’s time for universal pre-k, not more of the same failed policies from Gov. Rell." Press Release. DeStefano for Connecticut. 24 August, 2006.

Lieberman, Simmons, and Rell in Groton Today

Senator Lieberman (CfL-CT), Rep. Simmons (R-CT), and Gov. Rell (R-CT), who all share Republican pollster Neil Newhouse, will be campaigning in Groton today to commemorate the year anniversary of the Pentagon's reversal of its decision to close the sub base.


I can't make it there, but if anyone can, post descriptions in the comments and email pictures to post...

Senate Race Campaign Updates

This morning's Courant has an article with the latest on the Senate Race. Here are the highlights.


  • Lieberman's name will appear 5th on the ballot after Schlesinger, Lamont, Timothy A. Knibbs of the Concerned Citizens Party, and Ralph A. Ferrucci of the Green Party.


  • Ned Lamont has been endorsed by the UAW.


  • Hillary Clinton has invited Lamont to meet with her on Friday to discuss his campaign and how she can help him win. He will also be attending an event sponsored by Moveon.org in NYC.


  • Lieberman will appear tomorrow with Rob Simmons and Jodi Rell to mark the one year anniversary of the Pentagon's reversal of the decision to close the sub base at Groton.



I wonder how being so far down on the ballot will affect Lieberman's final numbers. At the same time I'm curious if being first might help Alan Schlesinger.

Source
Pazniokas, Mark. "Joe Down Low On Ballot". Hartford Courant. 8/24/06

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

5th Congressional District: Democracy Corps Poll

Looks like Democracy Corps commissioned some polling of likely voters in the 5th CD. The results of the poll (PDF) [HTML file here] are interesting, and worth a look. More information about Democracy Corps is here: they are not without bias.

Let's look at some of the results. First, the head-to-head matchup:
Q.27 If the election for U.S. House of Representatives were today and the candidates were Democrat Chris Murphy and Republican Nancy Johnson -- for whom would you vote, Democrat Chris Murphy or Republican Nancy Johnson?

Democrat Chris Murphy ...................................................... 40
Lean Democrat Chris Murphy .............................................. 4
Republican Nancy Johnson................................................. 45
Lean Republican Nancy Johnson......................................... 4
(Undecided).......................................................................... 7

And about the recent ad wars in the district:
Of the ads you recall seeing about Chris Murphy, which TWO ads had the most impact on your impression of Chris Murphy?

Nancy Johnson is 'red handed' and shows she has
voted to benefit corporate interests..................................... 33
Nancy Johnson has been in Washington too long and
Chris Murphy will bring change ........................................... 32
Nancy Johnson has cut taxes and Chris Murphy voted
to increase taxes ................................................................. 24
Chris Murphy voted to cut taxes while balancing the
budget and to change Congress we must send new
people.................................................................................. 22
Nancy Johnson fought to lower gas prices and Chris
Murphy is using misleading attacks against her.................. 20
(Other).................................................................................. 2
(None had impact)................................................................ 4
(Have not seen anything) ..................................................... 8
(Don't know/ refused) ........................................................... 8

Too much information in the poll to be reprinted here, but you should certainly go and have a look for yourselves. It basically tells us what we know already--that the 5th District race will be tight. Johnson has a slight edge for now, but that could change. Only 43% of respondants said they'd vote to re-elect her: 44% said they'd consider voting for someone else.

One other finding of the poll, for those of you who just can't get enough Senate race news, is that Lieberman leads Lamont in the 5th District 48%-40%.

Connecticut for Lieberman

It's official. Joe Lieberman is on the ballot.


The certification means that Lieberman, the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2000 and a presidential candidate in 2004, will run for re-election as part of the Connecticut for Lieberman party against Democrat Ned Lamont and Republican Alan Schlesinger.

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said her office validated 8,215 signatures before employees stopped counting. The campaign collected more than 18,500 signatures, but Bysiewicz's office did not validate them all because they were not needed.


I still can't get over the name he chose.

Update/Edit: Over at the Lamont campaign blog Tim has a post up highlighting Lieberman's trouble finding a new web host/tech help.

Source
Associated Press. "State Confirms Lieberman's Petitions To Appear On November Ballot". Hartford Courant. 8/23/06

Tagaris, Tim. "Net Vendors Turning Down Lieberman Party Work Offers". Official Campaign Blog. 8/23/06

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Will The Real Diane Farrell Please Stand-Up

Living in Enfield, I usually have to search for news on the 4th Congressional District race between Republican Incumbent Chris Shays and Democrat Challenger Diane Farrell. Such was not the case yesterday. As I read through my paper I ran across an interesting article that mentioned that Ms. Farrell does not favor an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq. At first I thought it must have been a typo so I researched it further and as it turned out I read it correctly.

According to the Stamford Advocate on August 16th:
Democratic congressional challenger Diane Farrell is against "staying the course" in Iraq, but she also opposes setting a withdrawal date for the U.S. Military.

"I think when people start talking timetable, they start thinking dates certain in their mind, " she said yesterday during a news conference at Norwalk City Hall. "A date-certain timetable is not realistic."


Well no kidding Diane. I'm glad you finally woke-up.

The article continues:
The country's strategy should involve meeting with the warring factions and getting them to agree on their roles in the new Iraqi government, she said.

###

Shays, who is leaving this week for his 14th trip to Iraq, said the diplomatic strategy Farrell described is exactly what he hopes to accomplish each time he visits the country.

"She is showing a tremendous lack of knowledge," Shays said in a telephone interview. "That is what we are doing every day."

Farrell has criticized Shays for his trips to Iraq and said in a statement after her news conference yesterday that it shouldn't take another personal visit from the Republican incumbent to see that "the situation continues to deteriorate and to understand that the present course is not working."


I'm sorry but I gotta ask, what the hell is wrong with this woman? Is she really this clueless? Where was she she when the Iraqi Prime Minister visited the White House? Maybe on an abandoned island in the middle of the polar ice cap with no power? What does she think Shays does in Iraq; go to the beach?

Since you seem to be almost brain-dead Diane, did you know that Senator Lieberman's campaign took the time to point out that your new found stance must be "well within the Connecticut Democrat mainstream" according to Dan Gerstein? And since it appears you now have the same position as Mr. Shays, why on earth would anyone want to vote for you if they disagree with him on the war? Doesn't seem like you know what distancing yourself from your opponent means.

From another Stamford Advocate article:
Though she supported Lieberman in the primary, Farrell has said she disagreed with him on the war. Lieberman and Shays' views on the war are closely aligned. Both have described Iraq a critical theater in the global war on terrorism. Farrell faced tough questions from several audience members about the war, however.

"There seems to be a lot of confusion about where you stand on the issue," said Murray Paroly, a Greenwich Democrat.

Farrell said she has been consistent on her opposition to the war and that efforts to characterize her as wavering on the issue were politically inspired.

Other Democrats appealed to Farrell to reconsider her position on another delicate issue related to the war -- the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

"I was very disappointed when you were not for a firm date for withdrawing troops," former Democratic Town Committee Chairman Betty Bonsal said.

Farrell said that while she is as eager as anyone to bring the troops home, she was reluctant to back a specific timetable.

"None of the people supporting that opinion are military experts," Farrell said.

Billed by her campaign as a community forum for citizens to bring questions, concerns and comments, Farrell spent most of the hour-long meeting attacking Shays, to whom she lost 52-48 in 2004.

###

On the Iraq war, Farrell criticized Shays' 14 trips to the war-torn country, saying that they did little paint an accurate picture of the conditions on the ground there. Farrell also accused Shays of painting a rosier picture of the situation.

Well at least other people are asking the important question. "Who are you?" And Diane, when did you last visit Iraq? I for one praise Mr. Shays for taking the time to go to Iraq and see first hand what is going on. Not only does he go to Iraq but when Shays returns, he forwards a list of recommendations to the White House and Pentagon after each visit. This proactive approach is certainly better than criticizing others and offering no alternative solution. And yes, I looked at your website Diane. In fact, let's show the people what you have to say.

Here are the main talking points from Farrell's website followed by my editorial after each:

* Have Congress step up to its proper oversight role and get the administration to articulate and implement a transition plan in which the U.S. will reduce its role and begin to bring troops home. Last time I checked, Diane is not a military expert...Congressional oversight is one thing but they shouldn't be writing the exit strategy
* Set achievement benchmarks, rather than dates, for implementing such a pullback. You mean like Shays and Lieberman?
* Begin meaningful Congressional oversight of all aspects of Iraq engagement including reconstruction, private contractors, equipment, and expenditures. Unlike the current Congressional leadership, demand accountability from the Bush administration on all aspects of Iraq involvement. And this different from Shays in what way?
* Renew pressure on the administration to remove Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary. I think the President has been pretty clear on this one...And what makes you think he would listen to a freshman Democrat?
* Recommit to forming a true international coalition with strong Middle Eastern roots that will oversee a collaborative assistance effort for Iraq. Right...so you will make the difference to France, Germany, et al jumping back in?
* Respect the ethnic affiliations of the Iraqi people and work with all parties to establish a cooperative relationship among them. You mean like the President has been trying to do and Shays has worked for as well...Again, stating the obvious and the position of the administration.
* Establish an honest, realistic and timely war funding plan instead of the Republican-supported administration method of emergency supplemental funding bills which makes it impossible to develop a true military finance plan. This one I agree with Farrell on. She actually sounds, dare I say it, like a Republican on this one and she is right.

I just don't get this campaign Farrell is running. She criticizes Shays and the administration for their policy and then recreates an almost identical plan of "her own". A lot of people, including myself, thought that Lieberman's campaign during the primary was the worst one ever. I think I may have to reconsider...

A close race? I think not.


Sources:

Mark Ginocchio, Farrell opposes setting date to bring troops home , Stamford Advocate, August 16, 2006
Neil Vigdor, Farrell rips Lieberman, Shays for war stance , Stamford Advocate, August 18, 2006
www.farrellforcongress.com, Issue Topics: Iraq

Rasmussen

Here are the latest Rassmussen poll results via Branford Boy at MLN.


The latest polls shows that Lieberman has 45% to Lamont's 43%, with Schlessinger holding at 6%.

Margin of error + or - 4%, so a deadheat or maybe Lamont's ahead.
****
Jodi Rowland-Rell is beating DeStefano 61% to 31%, illustrating just how deleterious to Democratic hopes the Lieberman candidacy is.


How much do you think these numbers will change from now until November? Is there anyone left who hasn't made up their minds? Lieberman or Schlessinger could always drop out but that's looking less likely by the day.

Labor News

This afternoon Joe Lieberman is holding a press conference with a slate of top labor union leaders who plan to re-endorse him. No word yet on who those top labor leaders actually are. The conference is scheduled for 12:00PM at the Yale Campus Construction site. I'll post an update when the names are unveiled.

Also at noon John DeStefano and Mary Glassman will be holding their own labor related press conference in Hartford. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has endorsed their ticket joining the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) who endorsed them last week. Combined these two unions represent over 45,000 Connecticut public school teachers.


Source
Gerstein, Dan. "Top Labor Leaders to Announce Re-endorsements
Of Lieberman Tuesday at Job Site in New Haven". Official Campaign Media Advisory. 8/21/06

Slap, Derek. "Connecticut 's public school teachers endorse DeStefano & Glassman". Official Campaign Media Advisory. 8/21/06

Monday, August 21, 2006

Lieberman Decries "Purge"

Just toss this one on the pile with the rest of the bizarre things that have happened in this campaign:
Critics asked a New Haven election official to remove Sen. Joe Lieberman from the Democratic Party on Monday, a request which could potentially lead to a hearing in which the longtime Democrat would have to argue that he still adheres to the principles of the party.

The group, whose members described themselves as peace activists, said Lieberman cannot belong to the Democrat Party while running for office under the "Connecticut for Lieberman" party banner. (AP)

It is kind of a tricky point, I suppose. If you're running a cutthroat campaign against the nominee of your own party, are you still in good standing? Here's Lieberman campaign manager Sherry Brown's response:
“The purge campaign launched today by Ned Lamont’s supporters is dirty political tricks at its worst, ranking up there with the outrageous tactics that Katherine Harris and the Republicans used in 2000 in Florida to stop all the votes from being counted.

“This kind of ridiculous, partisan game-playing is not going to provide anyone in Connecticut with better jobs, better health care, or better schools. All it’s going to do is deepen our divisions and add to voters frustration with our broken political system.

Okay, so it does kind of, sort of, maybe remind me of the frequent purging of the party rolls in Soviet Russia and other Communist countries. At times, the party rolls grew too large, and the leadership wanted to prune it down for various reasons. Some of those reasons were relatively benign, others far more sinister. But I remember reading of party members hauled before a committee and made to answer questions about Communist ideology and history. These men and women would stay up late poring over volumes of dense and incomprehensible Marxist thought, which they had probably never read in their lives, in the hopes of providing the correct answers and being allowed to stay a party member.

Maybe that's what's going to happen to Joe Lieberman. He'll be made to stand before a committee of low-level New Haven Democrats and answer questions about the ideology behind the Democratic Party's platform in 1988. If he can convince them that Michael Dukakis appearing in that tank helmet was somehow a victory for the proletariat, he'll be allowed to stay.

One thing I'm not reminded of is voting irregularities in Florida. Where did that come from?

In any event, the peace activists who are trying to get Lieberman kicked out of the party are technically correct. The rules say that "...being a candidate for office under the designation of another party or organization" is a no-no. And I'm sure they have good intentions. They want to help Ned Lamont and the Democratic Party, in the end.

That doesn't mean that this isn't a stupid move. It gives Joe Lieberman more ammunition, it makes Lamont supporters look like bullies, and, best of all from Lieberman's point of view, it means that Lamont will have to spend more time dealing with the independent actions of his supporters (who are an independent and action-minded bunch to begin with) rather than focusing on his campaign.

None of that helps Lamont. It will help even less if Lieberman is called before a hearing, because if that happens, he'll be able to say all of his campaign talking points in front of a ton of television cameras, all the while looking like the victim.

And, unlike the cowering, stammering Communists hauled before a purge committee in Soviet Russia, Joe Lieberman will win no matter what is decided.

Sources

"Lieberman's independent run questioned by Democrats." Associated Press 21 August, 2006.

"Lieberman Campaign Denounces Party Purge Effort by Lamont Supporters." Press Release. Friends of Joe Lieberman. 21 August, 2006.

Iraq Again

This article in the Norwalk hour discusses the war as a midterm election issue.


Faced with these two basic and conflicting public sentiments, both political parties are struggling to develop a winning campaign message on Iraq.
********
Two-thirds of Republicans say they approve of Bush's handling of Iraq, according to AP-Ipsos polling in August. Nine of 10 Democrats disapprove and two-thirds of independents disapprove.

"We should leave Iraq now, there's nothing more we can do," said Joey Yovino-Young, a construction worker from Oakland, Calif., who leans Democratic. "We've done our damage. We should give them humanitarian assistance."

About two-thirds of Democrats favor leaving as soon as possible, according to Pew Research Center polling. More than two-thirds of Republicans favor keeping troops in Iraq until the situation is stabilized.


Politicians in both parties may not want to talk about Iraq, but it's not going to go away. We've already seen it's effects in the primary. When Connecticut goes to the polls again in November, what will it's effects be?

Source
Associated Press. "Politicians must navigate minefield of Iraq public opinion". Norwalk Advocate. 8/21/06

Special Services (Business Improvement) District Coming To Downtown Hartford?

Today’s Hartford Courant included an editorial proposing the next steps to be taken in Hartford’s continuing revitalization. What is that next step? The need to designate downtown Hartford as a business improvement district (also referred to as a special services district).

Pursuant to Connecticut General Statute § 7-339m (2006), “Any municipality may establish by ordinance of its legislative body as provided in this chapter, within its confines, a special services district or special services districts to promote the economic and general welfare of its citizens and property owners through the preservation, enhancement, protection and development of the economic health of such municipality.” Generally, the formation of a special services district results in the implementation of a levy upon the taxable interests in real property within the special services district, the revenues from which may be used in carrying out any of the powers of such district.

The Hartford City Council is scheduled (next month) to entertain a proposal developed by the MetroHartford Alliance (for those of you unfamiliar with the work of the MetroHartford Alliance, I urge you to visit their website here and see the wonderful work this organization performs related to economic development) which seeks the creation of a special services district for downtown Hartford, as well as parts of Asylum Hill and Farmington Avenue to the city line on Prospect Avenue. As the editorial points out,

“If approved by property owners within the district in a special election, it would represent an enormous commitment on the part of the business community to downtown's long-term viability. Property owners would be voluntarily paying an additional tax each year to pay for improved safety, cleanliness, marketing, landscaping, holiday lighting, parking, special events and other services that supplement what city government provides.”


As a disclaimer, I have not read the proposal and, therefore, I do not have full understanding of the purpose and need for the formation of the special services district. According to the editorial, special services districts have been successful in other parts of the State (is there one in West Hartford?). Some questions that should be considered include: (1) if approved by the City Council, does the proposal have the overall support of the property owners within the proposed district (can the property owners handle an additional tax?); (2) does the proposed need for this district signify that the City has failed or become stagnant in its revitalization efforts, or does it reflect a greater desire by the property owners to expand on the City’s revitalization project; and (3) can Hartford transform itself into a 24-hour town, or is this just wishful thinking? All opinions are welcome on this subject (especially, if you have experience in such a district or are a Hartford property owner who could be affected by this proposal).

Sources
August 21, 2006, Hartford Courant (editorial), Downtown's Missing Link

MetroHartford Alliance (website, last visited August 21, 2006), http://www.metrohartford.com

Connecticut General Statutes §§ 7-339m to 7-339t (2006)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Pennsylvania Local Politics

SOMEWHERE IN NORTHEASTERN PA -- It's quiet here.

It's nice to get away from it all, to a house on a lake out here in the Pennsylvania country. It's actually a blessed sort of relief to get away from Ned Lamont, Joe Lieberman and the whole knotted mess that's going to be dominating our fall.

I was sitting on the lake shore today when it hit me that I hadn't thought about Connecticut politics in more than a day. I haven't even checked my email (much). I could go on for hours about Lieberman, Lamont, DeStefano, Rell, Johnson, Murphy and all the rest, but to the folks here it just doesn't matter.

It's nice. I sit around, read, go for walks with my wife and generally relax. (I also caught a bat that was flying around the inside of the house with a net. Rustic!)

I did read an article about politics in the local paper this morning that I thought was kind of interesting, though. So I'll share it with you:
he four suburban counties ringing Philadelphia have been a Republican stronghold for decades — with the GOP claiming seven of every 10 voters there in the past — but continue to lose ground to rival parties.

As of Friday, registered GOP voters now number just slightly above 49 percent in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery, home to one-fifth of the state's registered voters.
...
In the meantime, President Bush lost the suburbs in both 2000 and 2004, helping Democrats Al Gore and John Kerry carry the state.

U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, who is up for re-election in November, won the suburbs in 1994 and 2000.

But now?

A Quinnipiac University poll released last week showed his challenger, Democratic state Treasurer Bob Casey, leading 49 percent to 39 percent in those four counties. (AP)

It's a very interesting trend, one perhaps reflected in the changing makeup of Fairfield County. It's also neat that Quinnipiac, which we sort of take for granted as a local pollster, gets cited out here as a major source of polling information.

Casey's well liked and acceptably moderate (he is, for example, anti-abortion), and Santorum seems to have drifted too far into right field for a lot of Pennsylvania voters.

Other than that, I don't know too much about the race.

And that's nice.

Source
"Philly's suburbs turning from GOP." Associated Press 20 August, 2006.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Weekend Open Thread

There's been an abundance of news about Lamont and Lieberman this week, but not so much about other races in the state. Hopefully that will start to pick up as August draws to a close.

What races are you all following? Is there a local candidate or race that you're particularly excited about? Plug your favorite campaign here. Then go check out that person's page at CTLP's CT Election Wiki to make sure it has a complete entry.

Edited: I also want to include an update on a story I posted last month. The DNC has officially passed the proposed changes to the Democratic Presidential primary system. CNN has the details.

What else is going on?

Being Dan Gerstein




It would be fun to have a little door that you could crawl into and edit Dan Gerstein to make him less of a (Connecticut for Lieberman) partisan hack.

Here is what I would do with it (from the Greenwhich Time article on the DTC asking President Clinton to pressure Joe Lieberman to drop his Connecticut for Lieberman run):

"He's doing it a for a reason and believes it's an important reason," Gerstein said, touting Lieberman as an experienced lawmaker who is willing to put aside politics to get things accomplished in do absolutely anything, including playing politics with national security, to return to Washington, D.C.


And this:

"Primary night was the first time that many Connecticut voters saw Lamont on TV, and he's surrounding himself with two of the more divisive and problematic figures in the Democratic Party,We tried and failed to get the Rev. Al Sharpton's endorsement, so we will now attack him publicly. At least we don't have to turn around on Farrakahn! Yet." said Dan Gerstein, a veteran Lieberman aide who was appointed communications director for the campaign last week.


And this:

But then Gerstein posed "a question" for Lamont.

How could he expect to convince "moderate Democrats, Republicans, and most importantly, unaffiliated voters" that he "would be anything other than a rigid partisan rubber stamp in the Senate," the Lieberman spokesman asked, "when the only proof of his independence he can show is that he is slightly to the right of socialist Bernie Sanders on fiscal policy?" Maybe he could use our primary campaign talking points? You remember, the ones that said that he voted with Republicans 80% of the time? Forget all that by the way... The Republican is now a Pinko - My guy is the one that can work with Republicans!
...
Gerstein said today that he never intended to red-bait Lamont,but subtly, saying, "We never raised anything like what the Republican American did."

"I was just being light," he said, adding that Sanders is "not a communist, but a socialist. See? They are nothing like each other. Its like comparing apples and apples with a slightly different taste! I have complete deniability (its just a coincidence that the editorial and my email came out on the same day). [Drops to one knee in a Mary Katherine Gallagher pose, complete with jazz hands] HACKTACULAR!!!"


Dan Gerstein may not have any credibility now, but if we had that door, we could make him credible!

UPDATE: From Newsday:

Dan Gerstein, Lieberman's campaign manager, fresh from calling Ned Lamont a communist, accused Lamont of distorting the senator's statements.


From The Amherst Times (western NY):

“Part of the problem here is that everyone outside of Connecticut wants to glom onto this race, wants to put their own spin on it and wants to use it for their own advantages,” said Dan Gerstein, a Lieberman adviser. “We are not interested in being anyone’s political football. Except for the national Republicans. We need them to win and we need them badly!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Alan Who?

Republicans across the nation have an interest in our Senate race; just not in the endorsed GOP candidate.

Facing Senator Joseph I. Lieberman’s independent candidacy, Republican officials at the state and national level have made the extraordinary decision to abandon their official candidate, and some are actively working to help Mr. Lieberman win in November.

Despite Mr. Lieberman’s position that he will continue to caucus with Democrats if re-elected, all three Republican Congressional candidates in Connecticut have praised Mr. Lieberman and have not endorsed the party’s nominee, Alan Schlesinger. An independent group with Republican ties is raising money for Mr. Lieberman, who has been a strong supporter of President Bush on the Iraq war.

Senator John McCain of Arizona, while saying he would support the Republican nominee, is not planning to campaign for him, and even allowed two of his aides to consult with the Lieberman camp before the Aug. 8 Democratic primary. And Newt Gingrich, the Republican who once served as House speaker, has endorsed Mr. Lieberman’s candidacy.


Alan Schlesinger isn't at all pleased by this development. I can't say that I blame him. Both parties have stood by worse candidates in the past.

Mr. Schlesinger has reacted bitterly to the rejection by his own party, dismissing calls for him to leave the race. He maintains he can win by conveying his conservative platform to voters.

“Washington and the media have attempted to hijack this election and turn it into a referendum on the future of the national Democratic Party,” Mr. Schlesinger said in an interview on Friday. “Their interest is not in electing a Republican in Connecticut, or anyone in particular in Connecticut.”

Republican doubts about Mr. Schlesinger were crystallized when the White House spokesman, Tony Snow, pointedly refused on Monday to say the White House would endorse him. Ken Mehlman, the chairman of the Republican National Committee — whose job is to champion Republican candidates everywhere — pledged to “stay out of this one.”


This is a national effort to steer Connecticut's general election. It's not about supporting local Republicans. It's not even about supporting Joe Lieberman. It's about making sure the Democrat loses. Whether or not that's a fair strategy is debatable. What's clear is the GOP's intention to support an Independent, at the expense of their own candidate, solely to keep the Democrat from winning.

Source
Kornblutt, Anne E. "G.O.P. Deserts One of Its Own for Lieberman". New York Times. 8/19/06

Lamont and Edwards Event

First of all, in addition to CGG's pictures and video below, a few intrepid bloggers have posted video of the event: spazeboy, ctblogger, and tparty. Check out the video if you get a chance... (spazeboy and ctblogger have both promised extended video in the next few days)

The event was a day ago and the sites mentioned above have done great work writing about it (and the print media has covered it as well: NH Register; Courant), so I will just talk about a few points that stood out to me.

John Edwards is scary good at giving a speech. And, if he decides to run for President again (which he certainly seems to be preparing to do), he may find Connecticut to be fertile ground. His campaign got off to a late start and was badly outmanned in '04 and he still pulled 24% - '08 could be another story. Meanwhile, expect to see more possible presidential candidates in Connecticut before November to stump for Lamont. Like John Kerry (scroll down to the updates).

Most political speeches (at least since Bobby Kennedy) don't spend much time on poverty (unless they are based on the work of Charles Murray). It was refreshing to hear two politicians get up on a stage and speak eloquently about the scourge of poverty and how, as a nation, we are missing an opportunity to combat it. If Lamont continues to discuss the topic, it may help him continue to erode Joe Lieberman's Democratic support (check the maps to the right to see where each candidate found their support in the primary) without (IMHO) having much of an effect on Rs or Is.

I think events like this generally do more for the Presidential aspirant than they do for the Senate candidate. Here, did John Edwards stumping for Ned Lamont sway even one vote over to Ned Lamont? I think its likely that most supporters of Edwards who are strong enough supporters to be swayed by their guy's endorsement were already Lamont voters. That said, this race is a little different. Events like this have the potential to aid Lamont in that they can create buzz, generate donations, and generally put pressure on Lieberman to abandon his indy run. Of course, one event isn't going to do all that, but if we see a steady parade of national Democratic leaders coming through Connecticut, and a steady stream of contributions going to Lamont and not to Lieberman, the pressure on Lieberman to preserve his dignity will become that much higher.

US Chamber of Commerce Supporting Simmons

The US Chamber of Commerce is backing Congressman Rob Simmons in his re-election bid. They have begun to advertise on television on his behalf, as I saw last night, and according the Journal Inquirer, he may receive more support.

Chamber officials say that, as part of its effort to protect more than 30 pro-business members of Congress in competitive races, they also may provide direct mail and phone-bank support to the Connecticut candidates.

A spokeswoman for the business group, Linda Rozett, said today that it already has begun advertising on Connecticut television stations on behalf of Simmons...



When I reached Simmons for comment, he had this to say:
"I am thrilled that the Chamber and it's hard working business leaders have seen fit to support me. I will continue to work for creating opportunity, lowering taxes and bringing labor and management together for a common good."

This is certainly good news for Simmons. With over 95% of the chamber's membership consisting of businesses with fewer than 100 employees it certainly means something for them to support him. Some other facts I found: Small businesses employ roughly half of all private sector employees and are responsible for the creation of 60-8o% of net new jobs annually over the past ten years; so this certainly carries some weight with it. Those numbers don't lie. If they are backing him it most certainly shows that he supports small business and small business owners. Rob has always had a strong record here and it is nice to see that they recognize it.

After doing some research on the Chamber's website, this seems to be part of a much larger voter education effort. According to their website, they are launching what they are calling a "Vote for Business Bandwagon".

This is from the press release on their website.
The United States Chamber of Commerce today unveiled the newest component of its 2006 election outreach efforts, the "Vote for Business Bandwagon" bus, which will embark on a month-long trip to key states and congressional districts during the August Congressional recess for candidate endorsement events with U.S. Chamber members and voter registration drives.

"This tour takes our voter education efforts to a whole new level," said Bill Miller, Chamber vice president and national political director. "By partnering with state and local chambers and our members in targeted areas, we will be able to mobilize and educate voters for the critical mid-term elections."

The bus, which is colorfully decorated specifically for the Chamber, is outfitted with more than a dozen state-of-the-art computer workstations and a satellite uplink which will allow Chamber staffers to process voter registration forms and provide important information on early voting and absentee ballots.

The tour will begin in Maryland and will cover 12 states during August, where the bus will be the centerpiece of voter registration events, grassroots activist training, and press conferences announcing Chamber endorsements for critical House and Senate races. In addition to holding events with Chamber members, the bus will also be visible at sporting events and state fairs.

"The goal is to educate, motivate, and turnout our members this fall," said Miller.


I found it interesting that the US Chamber is getting this active in the election. While they have endorsed candidates in the past they have never been active to this extent. I have a feeling that we will see this bus in Connecticut at some point, perhaps in the Second Congressional District.

The Chamber has a similar efforts in place for Nancy Johnson and Chris Shays and has backed Joe Lieberman. While they haven't ruled out commercials or mailings for Lieberman in the General election (as they did in the primary), they haven't decided to do so yet.

Sources:

Don Michak, Business Lobby Backs Lieberman, 3 GOP Reps . Journal Inquirer, 08/17/2006

U.S. Chamber Launches Vote for Business Bandwagon . 08/01/2006. US Chamber of Commerce