Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Open Forum


  • According to the Courant CT's voting machines are vulnerable to tampering.


  • What do you do when the paper of record doesn't endorse your candidate? If you're Dan Gerstein you write anangry letter. T-Party over at LamontBlog has a nice run-down of the letter's contents.


  • The NYT Empire Zone blog has taken an interest in Lieberman's field staff problems, and explores whether it's part of a larger problem.


  • Reporter Andy Bromage questions whether Jodi Rell truly understands the upcoming rate hikes in store for us next year.


  • And finally, Colin McEnroe praises our own Genghis Conn on his blog, saying that he may be one of the "very few independent thinkers out there in the world".



I'm off to greet trick or treaters. Happy Halloween everyone.

Norwalk Debates: District 140 State Representative

There are many problems in the 140th district, and despite lots of talk, little has changed. Three candidates, Rick McQuaid (R), Burce Morris (D), and Mytrice Riley-Wilson (D) sat in front of a small crowd to talk about the issues. The 140th district holds several minority neighborhoods, where the abstract issues melt down to the daily challenges of managing to earn a living, providing educational opportunities for children and preventing crime. The residents here are weary of the same old problems.

Bruce Morris talked a lot but had little to say, failing to answer questions and interrupting his fellow candidates. At one point candidate Mytrice Riley-Wilson, visibly annoyed just shrugged and passed on attempting an answer. It’s too bad, Wilson brought a fresh perspective to community responsibility. “We have to look to ourselves to solve some of these problems,” she explained, expanding on her journey to clean the streets and get involved in making her community better after choosing to live in Norwalk.

A typical Morris answer to subject of how can the state legislator affect the affordable housing crisis facing Norwalk. “Education is foundational to affordable housing, it’s foundational to crime prevention, it’s foundational even to health care,” began his long rambling response. He concluded with restating his strong experience in education. One member of the audience, wearing a fire department baseball camp, attempted to ask just who affordable housing was for these days, but gave up when Morris spoke for another 5 minutes without addressing the question.

For Wilson and McQuaid affordable housing and the cost of living in Norwalk were important issues. Both questioned who was able to afford the affordable housing when each cited anecdotes of people being turned away by banks when applying for mortgages. Wilson also pointed out that she knew of a woman who was qualified for a unit, succeeded in getting a mortgage yet could not afford the commons charges of the condo development of $500/month on top of the mortgage payment. Wilson pointed out that building condos and lowering the purchase price does not make the units more affordable.

Both Wilson and McQuaid spoke of the importance of tax credits to encourage companies to create jobs in the district. Morris rejected tax credits as an option and instead spoke about the need to create transportation solutions to the gridlock facing commuters from Guilford. Morris probably got confused about what city he was talking about since Guilford commuters are more likely to head into New Haven, not Norwalk. Morris’ ties to New Haven, according to McQuaid are still strong. “All his fund raising money comes from New Haven,” McQuaid said shortly after the debate, “Not Norwalk.”

McQuaid said that the state should reward businesses that hire locally instead of importing workers. “If you use people who live in Norwalk, the transportation problem that we’re talking about is changed.” Morris’ candidacy has not been without controversy this year. He’s accused (primary challenger) Common Council member Carvin Hilliard of distributing flyers against him, going as far as filing an official complaint which was dismissed. McQuaid pointed out after the debate, that Morris does not live in the district anymore having recently moved across the line.

7th SENATE - KINER GOES NEGATIVE

For many reading this, negativity in campaigns is a once a year thing. However in Enfield, it almost never happens, especially local races. Many are friends in opposite party and don't want to offend even if the person that would be offended doesn't have a clue what they are doing politically speaking. And then the slightest inference of a criticism gets blown overboard in almost every event. For instance in our last municipal campaign the Republican candidates, myself included, pointed out the failures of the Democrat majority on the Town Council, something we consider issue related and fair game, but the Dems cried "foul" and said we were being negative. All in the eye of the beholder I guess, right?

Well there is no denying this one is over the top. William Kiner, a former State Representative from Enfield, sent out a campaign mailer, accusing his opponent, State Senator John Kissel, of not caring about people's health and saying essentially, that he is in bed with utilities because he works for Northeast Utilities and has accepted donations for the utility industry. The flyer is here:





Not only is it negative, it contains out and out lies. First, how can you criticize a man for having a job? Knowing John personally, I know that he separates his job as Senator from his work at Northeast Utilities. He wouldn't allow anything different. The community as a whole knows the same thing.

Next, the money he refers to is mostly from his co-workers. He has taken limited amounts of money from the company or any utility company for that matter. And in the report he cites (July 2006) there is actually nothing at all.

Most importantly is the issue at hand, his vote. For years, and very much to the knowledge of the Democrats, Kissel has voted against any bill with an unfunded mandate and alas, the bill in question had just that; an unfunded mandate. Furthermore, both State Representatives from Enfield, Democrat Steven Jarmoc and Democrat Kathy Tallarita, voted the same way Kissel did for the very same reasons. Update: It has been pointed out to me that I was mistaken about Reps. Tallarita & Jarmoc voting the same way as Kissel. I will have to look back again to correct it - thanks fellas!

Now normally we (Republicans) would be outraged at this. Not this time. We might actually need to thank Mr. Kiner (Wow, flashback to when he was my History Teacher) and his cronies for this one. Seems it has created a whirlwind of outrage towards Kiner's campaign from folks in his OWN PARTY who have, in turn, pledged their support to Kissel because of the mailer. If that is the case in his own party, one can only imagine what appearance it has to the average voter.

Now, one can only ask, who's the one playing "dirty politics"?

Disclosure: As I have said on previous posts and as can be seen in my profile, I am an unpaid advisor to the camapaign of State Senator John A Kissel.

Lieberman's Field Staff Problem

Questions are being raised about one member of Joe Lieberman's outsourced GOTV army. Last year Prenzina Holloway was fined and barred from participating in activities related to absentee ballots for two years. This year she's working for Urban Voters, a company hired by the Lieberman campaign to do field work.

From the article:

But five people at a Vine Street housing complex for the elderly have told The Courant that Holloway and another person came to their doors to give them absentee ballot applications, and a security worker at another complex on Woodland Street said Holloway tried to get into the building to distribute applications there. Holloway was barred from the building after getting into a verbal altercation with the worker after he made supportive comments about Lieberman's main challenger, Ned Lamont.

Other sources at the building said she called back a week later to try to "sweet talk" her way into the facility.
********
Holloway committed absentee ballot fraud in the 2004 election when she voted on behalf of, and forged the signature of, at least one voter, according to the State Elections Enforcement Commission. The commission also found evidence that Holloway was in the same room with at least two other voters as they filled out absentee ballots, a violation of state election law.

Holloway was fined $10,000, but because of financial hardship was made to pay only $2,000. She also signed an agreement saying she would "refrain from distributing absentee ballot applications and shall not assist with absentee ballot applications for a period of two years," starting April 1, 2005.

In the agreement, the commission said it has historically treated absentee ballot abusers "very severely," adding that Holloway's violations in 2004 were serious enough to prosecute.

"If [Holloway] in the future is found to have committed violations of this nature again, she will be referred to the chief state's attorney for criminal prosecution, and the maximum criminal penalties shall be sought," the agreement said.


Meanwhile the $387,561 petty cash fund is still unaccounted for and those accusations of 'street money' and 'vote buying' are sounding less far-fetched.


Source
Goren, Dale E. "Activist Denies Violating Ban On Ballot Work". Hartford Courant. 10/31/06

Where I Stand: Election 2006

We’ve decided not to go with endorsements this time around. Instead, each of us has the option of posting who he or she is voting for, and why. This gives us the opportunity to talk about candidates we like, without going the extra (and probably pointless) step of making a formal endorsement.

The following is my list.

For U.S. Senator: Alan Schlesinger (R) I know where he's polling--and I don't care. I’m also well aware of the fact that I supported Ned Lamont over Sen. Lieberman in the primary. I actually have nothing against Mr. Lamont. I think he’s a good candidate with good intentions; I just think Mr. Schlesinger is better informed and more committed. There are several reasons for this:

  1. Iraq: Schlesinger supports examining a three-state solution, which I think is a sensible and realistic way of dealing with the problem. I have long thought that the end result of our Iraq adventure would be three semi-autonomous states. In the case of Kurdistan, it’s already essentially true. No other candidates are thinking this way, and it’s refreshing. There are problems with this solution, of course (Turkey being a big one), but they are mostly diplomatic/political in nature.
  2. Fiscal discipline: Schlesinger is knowledgeable about fiscal matters and shows a serious interest in getting our nation’s fiscal house in order. His plan for fixing social security is especially compelling.
  3. Character: We all have flaws. Gambling and ego may very well be his. However, a moment that impressed me was when he stood up to yell at hecklers at the recent debate. He was livid that they would disrupt a decent democratic proceeding—and that was absolutely the right response.

I disagree with him on some issues. He would rather we err on the side of safety, while I would rather see us err on the side of liberty. He would have supported the recent detainee bill if it had contained a sunset clause, for example. His position on immigration is a little too hard-nosed, as well. But in most cases, I agree with him. I also think sending him to Washington would be like throwing a live grenade into the Senate. That’s a good thing. Schlesinger is that rare creature in 2006: a Republican whose presence in Congress could spark change.

Choosing between Schlesinger and Lamont was not easy. I do like Mr. Lamont, as I’ve said. I wouldn’t be sad to see him win at all--and if the race narrows to the point where every vote is needed for him to defeat Lieberman, I may reconsider. As for Sen. Lieberman himself, I simply can't support him. He seems neither to be a bridge builder nor a crafter of compromise, but instead just someone who is willing to attack his own party for political gain. That really isn't bipartisanship or moderation. I am disappointed in his conduct, especially during this race, and I believe he is the least likely candidate in the race to effect any sort of change in Washington. He certainly doesn't seem to have any viable solutions for resolving the conflict in Iraq, which he has so enthusiastically championed in the past. Mr. Schlesinger would make the best senator of the three.

For Governor: Jodi Rell (R) We have had reasonable, pragmatic and steady governance under Gov. Rell, and I would like to see her continue on. Her very active support for campaign finance reform is a major part of why I’m voting for her. Also, she could give Sen. Lieberman lessons in what it’s like to actually work across party lines. Her presence has helped to moderate the Democratic-held General Assembly (the civil unions compromise is a good example of this), which I believe is positive for Connecticut.

John DeStefano is a good man with bright ideas. But I don’t relish the idea of him as governor, and I worry about his tendency to make enemies instead of allies in the legislative bodies he works with. Above all else, Gov. Rell is right when she says that his numbers simply don’t add up. I don’t think there is a way for us to pay for all of DeStefano’s ideas. Therefore, I support the continuation of the pragmatic and thoughtful, if sometimes too slow and reactive, government of the incumbent.

For U.S. Representative: Joe Courtney (D) We do need change in Washington, which is one of the major reasons why I’m not supporting Sen. Lieberman. Rob Simmons has been a capable legislator, and I voted for him last time. However, he has sided with the GOP leadership too often for my taste, and his position on the recent detainee bill was, despite the fact that it was a compromise for Simmons, wrong. Simmons has done too much to exacerbate the current state of affairs and, unlike Schlesinger, probably won’t act to change much of anything should he be returned to Washington. Mr. Courtney, on the other hand, impressed me with his knowledge of the issues, and his record as a legislator shows him capable of getting things done without alienating either members of the opposition or his own party.

For Attorney General: Richard Blumenthal (D) Although he has been in office for what seems like forever, I see no good reason not to re-elect him. Robert Farr certainly doesn't make a compelling case.

For Secretary of the State: Susan Bysiewicz (D) Although her tenure has been a bit rocky, her office made the right choice by supporting optical-scan voting machines (eventually).

For State Treasurer: Denise Nappier (D) - Although Linda Roberts is a good candidate, Ms. Nappier has mostly done well as treasurer.

For Comptroller: Nancy Wyman (D) - Cathy Cook does not make a good case for replacing Ms. Wyman. The Republican underticket has been very disappointing in general this year.

For State Senator: John Kissel (R) I like his positions on campaign finance reform, and he has been a pragmatic and intelligent legislator. My one major issue with him is his vote against civil unions in 2005, so my vote for Kissel will be cast with some serious reservations. It is my hope that Sen. Kissel, who was very public in his opposition to the bill, will see that there is nothing unreasonable about extending the rights of marriage to same-sex couples. It has not caused the widespread social discord that so many predicted in either Massachusetts or Connecticut.

As for Democrat Bill Kiner, I have been less than thrilled with the negative tone of his campaign.

For State Representative: Karen Jarmoc (D) I have nothing against Republican Charles Woods. However, Ms. Jarmoc has a good command of the issues and seems very familiar with the workings of state and local government through the many organizations she is a part of. She will hopefully be more involved than her husband, retiring State Rep. Steven Jarmoc (D), who was a casual legislator at best.

Again, these are just my own votes and opinions, and are not meant to represent the opinions of the site as a whole. So how about you? Where do you stand?

Norwalk Debates: District 25 State Senate

It turned out a large crowd wanted to hear State Senator Bob Duff and challenger Fred Wilms debate the issues in the community room at city hall Monday night. Their debate was the headliner, and the state rep candidates squared off in a community round table format, in separate rooms later in the evening.

It’s fair to say that republicans outnumbered democrats in the audience for the state senate debate. State budget director, Bob Genuruario, who previously held the seat for many years looked on as the opponents squared off on what’s turning out to be the chief issue in the race, state funding for Norwalk. Wilms contends that Duff has failed to hold onto the level of funding previously held.
"We just don't seem to have a lot of clout up there in Hartford," Wilms said. "First of all, I would be on Gov. Rell's team. We're still getting less money than before (Duff) took office. I think we should be getting at least $40 million more, atop of the $17 million that we're already getting."
Wilms argued that majority Democrats have steered state dollars toward Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven. "There is a marriage between party and geography here and that is a fact," he said.

Duff counters that he’s increased funding levels 12% since he took office.
Duff blasted an anecdote told earlier by Wilms that suggested that lawmakers allocate state aid "by getting together in a back room" and "the guys with the biggest muscles get the most money." He rejected Wilms' assertion that political affiliation plays a role in state aid.
"If the governor wants to do more for Norwalk, I'm all ears," Duff said. "State aid to Norwalk has always been a struggle and it will always continue to be a struggle. We will always do everything we can to get more money. State aid to a municipality is not a Republican or Democratic issue."
What is true is that state funding for Norwalk has continued to be an issue for the Norwalk delegations for a long time. Agreement on changing the educational cost sharing funding formula is not disputed. What to do about it becomes the contention. Wilms charges that the 20 year Democratic majority in the legislator has ignored Norwalk at the expense of favoring Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven. Wilms claims that Duff has not been able to stand up to the Democratic leadership and do more for Norwalk. Duff touted a list of legislation he’s supported that delivered benefits to Norwalk including tax credits, job promotion, and economic issues. Duff made clear that during his first term he’s increased state aide nearly 12 percent.

Brian Lockhardt, reporter for the Norwalk Advocate, caught both candidates in a hypocritical moment.
Both candidates said neighboring towns do not build their share of affordable housing.

But at a forum in Darien last week, Duff and Wilms sided with Nearwater Lane residents concerned over a proposal to turn a single-family home into a 13-unit affordable housing complex.



The Hour, State funding focus of District 25 candidates' debate By ROBERT KOCH 10/31/06

The Norwalk Advocate , State aid is a big issue at debate, Brian Lockhardt 10/31/06

Monday Night Rally for Nappier

Denise Nappier drew a who's who of Hartford area politicos at a campaign rally held at the Arch Tavern in Hartford. For a monday night event, the Arch was packed, at times difficult to navigate through even though Monday night football was several hours off. Nappier drew from Treasury Department staff, as well as Hartford city officials, state reps and democratic party officials. Across town, John Larson held an event as well, but that didn't stop him from heading over to the Arch and joining in the support for Nappier along with State Comptroller Nancy Wyman, and State Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo. Candidate for governor John DeStefano made an appearance as well.

Nappier has recently released a new commercial, viewable here. Her previous commercial appears on YouTube:

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Day of Many Polls Continues

And it isn't over yet!

MajorityWatch
2nd CD
Courtney.....51%
Simmons....45%

4th CD
Farrell.......43%
Shays........52%

5th CD
Murphy.....51%
Johnson....43%

The Day (5th CD)
Murphy.....46%
Johnson....43%

So basically: who knows?

NOW Endorses DeStefano Glassman Ticket

As a pro-choice female Republican Rell would normally win this, but her stance on Emergency Contraception in Catholic as well as her choice of running mate effectively killed any chance she had of snagging NOW PAC's endorsement funds. More on why this matters after quotes from the release.

Emphasis mine:


"John DeStefano is the right choice for women on issue after issue," said Connecticut NOW President Rosemary Dempsey. "It is disappointing that his opponent opposes making sure that emergency contraception is available to rape victims at all hospitals, has selected a running mate that voted to make performing an abortion a felony, and has failed to take leadership on issue after issue of importance to the women of this state."

A recent example of how DeStefano's opponent is out of touch was particularly troubling. His opponent's running mate made comments during a Lt. Governor debate last Friday that said that Plan B emergency contraception for rape victims were "academic" because Plan B will be available over the counter starting January 1st. His comments clearly show that he is completely out of touch with reality and victim's rights – to tell a rape victim that they have to leave the hospital and pay for emergency contraception out of pocket is not academic. It is egregious disregard of women's r health and rights.


Part of the problem with emergency contraception is that many people don't understand what it is, and why it's important. It's an issue that doesn't fit well into soundbites and talking points.

The anti-birth control crowd has done an amazing job linking EC to abortion. Hospitals are already afraid to dispense EC because they don't want to live in constant fear of being blown up like clinics that provide abortions. Many pharmacies will probably have that same fear, and then there are those who will simply refuse to stock and dispense it for so-called moral reasons.

But this and other women's issues aren't going to go away anytime soon. Yes, Plan B will be available over the counter next year but that doesn't solve the problem. Hospitals and clinics must be required to dispense it just like any other drug that patients need. Rell and Fedele won't stand up for a woman's right to EC. John DeStefano and Mary Glassman will.

Source
Slap, Derek. "NOW endorses DeStefano / Glassman". Official Campaign Press Release. 10/30/06

Day of Many Polls: Farrell Ahead of Shays

A new Journal-Inquirer Poll shows challenger Diane Farrell slightly ahead of Rep. Christopher Shays in the 4th District:
A new poll gives Democrat Diane Farrell a 4-point advantage over U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4th District - essentially the reverse of their showing a month ago in a similar survey.

But because the latest poll carries a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, it also suggests that the closely watched contest remains a statistical dead heat.

Sponsored by the Journal Inquirer and The Day of New London, the Research 2000 poll of 600 likely voters in the 4th Congressional District was conducted by telephone between Thursday and Saturday.

It shows Farrell leading Shays by a 47 percent to 43 percent margin, with 10 percent undecided. (Michak)

Another close, close race.

Source
Michak, Don. "JI Poll: 4th district race a statistical dead heat." Journal-Inquirer 30 October, 2006.

Simmons Ahead (Or Not)

The Norwich Bulletin is reporting that a poll by the National Republican Congressional Committee is showing Rob Simmons ahead of Joe Courtney 50%-43%.
The NRCC poll contradicts a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee internal poll released last week showing Courtney holding a four point lead, 46-42. ("National")

For such a high-profile race, there has been very little independent polling. The Courant/UCONN poll had Simmons up by 2% on October 20th, but that's really it for recent independent polls.

Bottom line: too close to call.

Source
"National Republican Congressional Committee poll shows Simmons ahead in 2nd Congressional District." Norwich Bulletin 30 October, 2006.

Eight Days Left: One Massive Poll

The election is almost here, and it looks like the big story out of Connecticut on the evening of November 7th may not be Lieberman-Lamont-Schlesinger, but any or all of the three hotly contested Congressional races.

Let's see where we stand (actual ballot order mimicked--congressional poll has candidates arranged by congressional district):

If the election for U.S. Senator were held today, for whom would you vote?
Alan Schlesinger (R)
Ned Lamont (D)
Timothy Knibbs (CC)
Ralph Ferrucci (G)
Joe Lieberman (CfL)
Free polls from Pollhost.com
If the election for governor were held today, for which candidate would you most likely vote?
Jodi Rell (R)
John DeStefano (D)
Joseph A. Zdonczyk (CC)
Cliff Thornton (G)
Free polls from Pollhost.com
If the election for Member of Congress were held today, for whom would you vote? Select one (arranged by district).
CD-1 Scott MacLean (R)
CD-1 John Larson (D)
CD-2 Rob Simmons (R)
CD-2 Joe Courtney (D)
CD-3 Joseph Vollano (R)
CD-3 Rosa DeLauro (D)
CD-3 Daniel Sumrall (G)
CD-4 Christopher Shays (R)
CD-4 Diane Farrell (D)
CD-4 Phil Maymin (L)
CD-5 Nancy Johnson (R)
CD-5 Chris Murphy (D)
Free polls from Pollhost.com
Results nowhere even in the vicinity of being scientific.

Murphy Pulls Ahead

Chris Murphy is slightly ahead of Rep. Nancy Johnson, according to a new UCONN/Hartford Courant poll.
UConn's pollsters found that among likely voters, Murphy was leading Johnson by 46 percent to 42 percent with 9 percent of voters still undecided. Murphy's lead is just outside the poll's margin of error of 3.6 percentage points. The poll of 762 likely voters in the 5th Congressional District was conducted by UConn's Center for Survey Research and Analysis between Oct. 24 and Oct. 28, just after Johnson and Murphy completed their debates.
[...]
"These results paint a picture of a very vulnerable incumbent," said Monika McDermott, the UConn poll's research director. "Likely voters aren't happy with Johnson's performance, and they say they're ready for a change." (Buck)

Crucially, independent voters now prefer Murphy. The poll also shows that Johnson's negative ads may have hurt her own campaign worse than Murphy's.

Source
Buck, Rinker. "Johnson Losing Her Hold?." Hartford Courant 30 October, 2006.

So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.

Hotline reports that:
(a) The DCCC is about to "drop and eye-popping amount" into the 4th CD
(b) Other Congressional Democrat challengers were "surprised to find that all state television time is sold. That may have something to do with the Lieberman and Lamont race, which will smash all previous records by reaching $30 million most of that on television"

How much would be eye-popping? Try $1,025,989.50.

Reportedly,

Oompa loompa doopadee do
I've got another puzzle for you
Oompa loompa doopadah dee
If you are wise you'll listen to me
What do you get from a glut of TV?
A pain in the neck and an IQ of 3
Why don't you try simply reading a book?
Or could you just not bear to look?
You'll get no... you'll get no... you'll get no commercials
Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee-da
If you're not greedy, you will go far
You will live in happiness too
Like the Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee-do

or sing along ...

In serious commentary, the DCCC is doubling down on the tight race in the 4th CD. It looks like Murphy and Courtney are left to slug it out on their own. Shays has been airing radio commercials for a long time, considering the the traffic volume in lower fairfield county, this captive audience has little choice but to listen. It'll be interesting to see what more TV advertising does for Farrell.

The Courant reports that Lamont dumped another $2 million into his campaign over the weekend, this time as a loan, which brings his total "investment" to $15 million.

TPM CAFE, CT-04: DCCC Pumps Over A Million Into Ads Against Shays, Greg Sargent, 10/29/06

The Courant, Senate: The Debate Returns, Again, To War, By MARK PAZNIOKAS, October 29, 2006

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Up All Night

I just finished listening to a BBC news program called Up All Night. Tonight's broadcast was largely devoted to covering our Senate race. During the primary I noticed that national coverage of the race often didn't reflect what I saw happening locally. With that in mind I was interested to hear how the BBC would present both the Senate race and Connecticut in general.

Their correspondent Rhod Sharp went around to various locations in Connecticut asking people about whom they were voting for and why. Sharp's travels took him to Sikorsky, a rally for union SEIU32BJ, Mayor Mike's bar in Hartford, and on the front lines of the lawn sign wars. He also spoke with both Ned and Joe about what the race meant to Connecticut and the nation.

The show was pretty comprehensive, but I wasn't learning anything new about the race. Towards the end of the program I realized why. Mr. Sharp was presenting the Senate race from the ground. He was having the same conversations on the air that we're all having amongst ourselves right now. I think listeners came away with an accurate portrait of what's going on in Connecticut, and why this race happened.

National media has covered this race extensively, but most of the time I feel like they missed the mark. The GQ piece is a notable exception. I'd love to hear some other opinions on this. What's your take on how the national (and international) media has portrayed this Senate race and Connecticut?

Full Disclosure: I heard about the program in advance because the producers were interested in talking to bloggers about the race. We got bumped, but I think the field pieces were much better. CTLP is mentioned on the air however, as is Don Pesci's blog.

Newspaper Endorsements

This is a partial list of Newspaper Endorsements that will be updated continually until the election. I've started with the major papers. Let me know what local papers you think should be included in the comments section.

Hartford Courant
Joe Lieberman
John DeStefano
All Democratic House Candidates

Connecticut Post
Chris Shays

New York Times
Ned Lamont
Jodi Rell
Diane Farrell
Chris Murphy
Joe Courtney

New Haven Register
Joe Lieberman
John DeStefano
Rosa DeLauro (Registration Required)
Rob Simmons (Registration Required)

The Day
Jodi Rell
Joe Courtney

The War

Kevin Tillman, brother of the decesed Pat Tillman, has a powerful, must read piece on Truth Dig:
[...]
Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.
[...]


Meanwhile, Joe says he'd vote for the war again (via tparty):
On Iraq, Lieberman now tries to steer the debate away from the wisdom of the original decision to invade, a vote that Gerstein said Lieberman does not regret and would cast again.

It makes me sick.

Rasmussen has Lieberman up by 8

According to this Diary at KOS, the race is tightening up.

Connecticut: Rasmussen Premium Section (no link)
Lieberman (I) 48%
Lamont (D) 40%
Schlesinger (R) 9%


Hat tip to Matt Stoller at MyDD.

Sunday Open Forum

Joe Lieberman has released a voter education jingle. Surprisingly catchy! Not to be outdone, our own CGG does the vocals for a comeback over at media rock star CTBob's place.

Disgruntled_Republican told you that Enfield was the center of the political universe. And, according to the Courant, he was right.

The Day endorses Courtney and Rell. The Danbury News-Times endorses Rell. The Stamford Advocate is endorsing Rell, with some qualifications. The Connecticut Post has endorsed Shays, but I don't see it on their website yet.

What else is happening?

Norwalk Redevelopment Officials Want Secrecy

The Norwalk Advocate reports today that Norwalk law department is making moves to prevent discussions about redevelopment projects being leaked to the public. Following the creation of a new Common Council Committee that serves to negotiate redevelopment contracts,
Corporation Counsel Peter Nolin, a former Common Council member, said he suggested having the committee sign a confidentiality agreement.

He said members of city boards typically assume that every meeting they hold has to be open to the public and all information shared with constituents, but, "This is a different procedure," Nolin said.

The agreement tells to committee members their work is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act and is the property of the city and the developers. (source: Norwalk Advocate)
It's an interesting position that does not quite jive with the move towards transparent government. Recently in New Jersey (The Times of Trenton Publishing Corporation v. Lafayette Yard Community Development Corporation, 368 N.J. Super. 425, 846 A.2d 659 (App. Div. 2004); April 30, 2004) a court case was brought by a newspaper after its reporter was barred from attending meetings held by a redevelopment company formed after a New Jersey municipality granted public land to it for redevelopment.

Issues that surfaced as a result of that case rested on the issue that redevelopment is a governmental function for the benefit of the public, regardless of how it is undertaken. It is clear that private companies would prefer not to conduct business through hearings and other formal proceedings. Although transparency is cumbersome and sometimes impractical, it is important to identify how and what critical decisions are being made even if they wouldn’t otherwise be subject to public scrutiny.
The so-called land disposition agreements typically outline project specifics, such as the amount of affordable housing, use of minority and women-owned construction companies and financing. They are also the basis for a developer's employing the city's powers of eminent domain. (source: Norwalk Advocate)
Redvelopment's own comments about the confidentiality agreement show that the public interests are exactly what is being negotiated.
"But we're expecting a level of confidentiality associated with both the work product and the discussions," Redevelopment Director Timothy Sheehan said. "To be debating issues in public that might not ultimately end up in the (land disposition agreements) doesn't seem like a benefit to the public. Nor does it seem like a productive use of time and resources." (source: Norwalk Advocate)
Over $1 billion of development projects are slated for Norwalk in the next months.
Over the next year, approvals probably will be sought for the West Avenue redevelopment plan with developer Stanley Seligson; the Head of the Harbor Plan at Wall Street with M.F. DiScala & Co.; the Isaacs Street redevelopment plan (also along Wall Street) with Poko Partners; and amendments to an existing land disposition agreement for the Reed-Putnam Riverwalk urban renewal project with the Spinnaker Cos.
The committee includes Council President Michael Coffey, Majority Leader Carvin Hilliard, Mayor Richard Moccia, Planning, Common Council Minority Leader Douglas Hempstead, Common Council member Matt Miklave, Commission Chairman Walter Briggs and Redevelpment Chairman Paul Jones.

Keeping negotiations confidential during the process may be more efficient, but permanently keeping the process secret is not good government.

The Norwalk Advocate Officials move to keep development talks confidential, By Brian Lockhart October 29 2006

Saturday, October 28, 2006

NYT Endorses Lamont

Since they also endorsed Lamont in the primary this isn't a huge surprise.

A couple of choice selections from the endorsement:

But instead of re-evaluating his own positions, Mr. Lieberman blamed his constituents for failing to notice that he had offered some negative comments about the conduct of the war, too, mainly when he was running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2004. He did not protest when Dick Cheney said that people who voted for Mr. Lamont were giving comfort to “Al Qaeda types.” His only reflection seemed devoted to a re-examination of the rules for getting back on the ballot.

Since his primary defeat, Mr. Lieberman has run a well-packaged campaign built around his self-assigned bipartisan image — “It’s not about politics,” say his ads. But it is very much about politics — from the flood of special interest campaign donations that has been running Mr. Lieberman’s way to the old Karl Rove lesson that political winners never admit to error.
********
Ned Lamont has run a far less polished campaign than Mr. Lieberman, but the more we see of him, the more impressed we are by his intelligence and his growing sophistication about the issues facing the nation. He is very much in the Connecticut mold of basically moderate, principled politicians, and his willingness to take on Mr. Lieberman when no one else dared to do it showed real courage and conviction. He would make a good senator. More important, he has the capacity to continually become a better one. We endorse Ned Lamont for Senate.


Last week someone asked for a list of newspaper endorsements. I should have that up tomorrow afternoon.

Source
Editorial. "The Senate Race in Connecticut". New York Times. 10/29/06

Millionaires and Billionaires

From the beginning Joe Lieberman's campaign has made an issue of Ned Lamont's wealth, and the fact that he's donated money to his own campaign. Lieberman's website even has a colorful graphic detailing how much of Lamont's own money has gone into his own campaign. From Joe's website you get the impression that he does not approve of self-financing.

Considering Lieberman's stance I was surprised to read GC's post about Lieberman getting so much assistance from NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg. In 2001 Bloomberg spend $74 million of his own money to win the election. The Lieberman campaign can't seem to mention Lamont without referring to him as a multi-millionaire. Will they refer to their new political patron as Billionaire Mike Bloomberg?

The Lieberman campaign has accused Ned Lamont of trying to buy the Senate seat, and now their chief ally is someone who literally did buy their way into office. According to Joe's graphic Ned Lamont has donated over $12 million to his own campaign. That's in addition to donations from supporters. It's also less than 25% of what Bloomberg spent.

If Lieberman wants to ally himself with Mike Bloomberg it's time to remove that graphic from his site, and erase the phrase Greenwich multi-millionaire from his campaign's vocabulary.
****

Meanwhile a week has passed and we still haven't received an explanation on Lieberman's $387,561 petty cash fund. As a means of comparison Matt Brower Hamlin over at MLN has his own graph posted comparing Lieberman's petty cash fund to the funds of others currently running for Senate.


Source

Saul, Michael. "OUTSIDER? NO, JUST AN OUTSPENDER". New York Daily News. 5/22/05

Courant Endorses Lieberman, DeStefano

DeStefano endorsement.

Lieberman endorsement.

I'm not surprised at the Lieberman endorsement. The DeStefano endorsement, now... that's surprising.

Forget What's The Matter With Kansas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Bloomberg Lends Staff to Lieberman

Is this the start of a national centrist party?

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) is helping out friend Joe Lieberman by lending him staff to help prepare for a massive GOTV effort:
In his battle for re-election to the United States Senate without the backing of the Democratic Party, Joseph I. Lieberman is deploying a secret weapon in the race’s closing days: a sophisticated operation to identify and turn out voters, courtesy of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City.

The Bloomberg group includes several top-level operatives who played key roles in the mayor’s decisive re-election last year or who are in the administration, and have taken leaves from their jobs to work on Mr. Lieberman’s campaign.

Since Mr. Lieberman lost the Democratic primary in Connecticut to Ned Lamont, they have helped open campaign offices, devised a strategy to reach voters and are corralling enough volunteers to cover 2,800 shifts at more than 700 polling sites on Election Day, Nov. 7.

Given that Mr. Lieberman does not have a party apparatus to help build his field operation, the efforts of the Bloomberg team could prove critical in one of the most closely watched races in the nation. (Cardwell)

That's putting it mildly. Bloomberg's efforts will probably win Joe Lieberman the election.

But to what end? Bloomberg is a Republican, at least on paper, who runs a city in another state. Why buy the loyalty of a Senate Democrat (or independent)? The article suggests that it may be a first step in creating a national network of support for moderate independent candidates--or possibly the groundwork for a national campaign by Bloomberg himself.

The idea of a national network to support independent candidates sounds strongly like an effort at a centrist third party. Republican and Democratic leaders should keep an eye on this developing situation, especially if Lieberman should win.

Source
Cardwell, Diane. "Bloomberg Sends Troops to Help Lieberman." The New York Times 28 October, 2006.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Night Open Forum

The Lt. Gov. debate is now available online Worth a listen.

DeStefano is accusing Rell of conspiring to force Aetna to do something evil. I think. Really, I have no idea what he's alleging. Whatever it is, there seems to be very little evidence for it.

A former mayor of Middletown is going to jail for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover gambling debts.

Chris Shays apparently forgot to record a trip to Qatar on a federal disclosure form.

Lastly, there may have been a violation of state election laws by Rep. Kathy Tallarita, according to Cool Justice. Hmm.

What else is happening?

Norwalk Democrats Back Lieberman

Tomorrow's Norwalk Hour will report that the majority of the Democrats on Norwalk's Common Council endorse Senator Lieberman. Of the 10 elected council members, 6 reportedly were unhappy with DTC chairwoman Galen Wells statement earlier in the week that she knew of no other Democrat in Norwalk who supported Senator Lieberman. The six members are: Fred Bondi, Herbert Grant, Phyllis Bolden, Kevin Poruban, Majority Leader Carvin Hilliard and Council Pesident Michael Coffey. Council President Michael Coffey released a press statement:
"We are looking at individuals and Joe Lieberman is clearly the best candidate in this race for the residents of the City of Norwalk".
Lieberman has been instrumental in delivering grants of $250,000 and $150,000 to the Norwalk Housing Authority in past years and $1 million for a harbor dredging project. "Joe Lieberman has delivered time and time again for the residents of the City", the six collectively state.

In other news, the Norwalk Registrar of Voters is reporting that Norwalk has added nearly 3000 new voters. Additionally, approximately 900 absentee ballots have been mailed out to voters. The Norwalk new voter registration break out is:

25% Republican
38% Unaffiliated
36% Democrat

This does not compare favorably to 2004 when new Democrat and Unaffiliated voters alone totaled 4147 as of 10/23/2004. It would appear that once again, Norwalk is on pace to underperform.

SOTS: 42,000 New Voters

According to the Secretary of the State's office, more than 42,000 new voters have registered between the August 8th primary and now. Here are the numbers as of October 27th:
D – 14,726 (35%)
R - 6,770 (16.1%)
U - 20,355 (48.4%)
MINOR - 225 (0.5%)

That's a lot of new Democrats and unaffiliated voters. More than 60,000 people have registered to vote over the last six months.

If you want to register, you still have time! The deadline to register by mail has passed, but you can still register in person at your town hall until 8:00pm on Tuesday, October 31st.

Lieberman Won't Debate

(hat tip to MLN)

Looks like Joe Lieberman is staying out of a proposed fourth U.S. Senate debate:
Lamont and Republican Alan Schlesinger, meanwhile, have accepted an invitation to a fourth debate Thursday, but Lieberman declined. His press secretary, Tammy Sun, said the campaign was sticking to the agreement to hold three debates.

It was unclear whether the debate at Quinnipiac University, which would be televised live by WTIC-TV, Channel 61, would go forward without Lieberman. (Pazniokas)

Why not agree to the debate? What can it hurt? Well, it probably hurts a lot if you're Joe Lieberman. Every time Alan Schlesinger faces off against him, he loses votes. At this point, Lamont's influence on the election is negligible. He isn't attracting new voters. Schlesinger is (although how many he's getting is still up in the air), and he's taking them mostly from Lieberman.

So, no go, which is too bad. Anyone who wants to say "bawk! bawk! bawk!" is certainly free to do so in the comments.

Source
Pazniokas, Mark. "A Little Help From Cajun Country. Hartford Courant 27 October, 2006.

Glassman-Fedele Debate Open Forum

You can listen to the debate at www.wnpr.org.

My reception is lousy here, and I'm on a slow connection, so I won't be recording the debate. I will do my best to give you updates as the debate progresses. If you're listening out there, feel free to post observations.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Chuck Todd on Simmons-Courtney

Chuck Todd of the National Journal has pegged the 2nd CD as one of his "Eight Races to Watch" this year, because it exemplifies what he sees as a larger, national trend:
GOP success in '94 can be attributed to geography more than anything else. The party just cleaned up in the South. Well, for Democrats, if they simply started winning the congressional seats in the Northeast that their presidential candidates have carried in the last four elections, they'd be awfully close to getting the 15 seats needed for control.

No seat better exemplifies the Democrats' Northeast opportunities and difficulties than the one held by Rep. Rob Simmons (R). He's very good at voting in the interest of his district over his party. But is his party ID just too much of a problem for left-leaning, Pepperidge Farm, independent voters? Democrats' chances of holding a congressional majority in '08 are dependent on the party winning a lion's share of these Northeastern targets in '06. If Democrats don't pull many of these but still get the majority, it actually puts them in more peril in '08. (Todd)

Todd has a good point about geography and 1994. The Southern Democrats who lost in 1994 were all leftovers, remnants from the Civil War era. So, too, are many of the Northeast's Republicans.

The problem, of course, is that America runs the risk of becoming so geographically segregated that we become, in essence, two different one-party states bound together by a gridlocked federal government. That, we don't need.

Source
Todd, Chuck. "So You Want To Be A Pundit? Study These Eight Races." NationalJournal.com 26 October, 2006.

Downtown Hartford Going Wireless

Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez is going to announce tomorrow a plan to make wireless internet available in downtown Hartford and the Blue Hills neighborhood, according to a release from the mayor's office. Several other towns and cities in Connecticut, including New Haven, have been exploring free citywide wireless access (Enfield, are you listening?).

There will also be a plan unveiled to provide low-cost computers and training to residents, which the release says is a first for the nation.

Farrell, MacLean Sign On to Punch Clock Campaign

The Punch Clock Campaign, which is an effort by the Sunlight Foundation (full disclosure: Sunlight also provided this site with grant money earlier this year) to get members of Congress to make their daily schedules publicly available on the internet, is picking up a little steam here in Connecticut.

Both Diane Farrell and Scott MacLean have signed on to it, and Chris Murphy is reportedly on the fence.

This is the agreement candidates are being encouraged to sign:
The Punch Clock Agreement

I believe citizens have a right to know what their Member of Congress does every day.

Starting with the next Congress, I promise to publish my daily official work schedule on the Internet, within 24 hours of the end of every work day. I will include all matters relating to my role as a Member of Congress. I will include all meetings with constituents, other Members, and lobbyists, listed by name. (In rare cases I will withhold the names of constituents whose privacy must be protected.) I will also include all fundraising events. Events will be listed whether Congress is in session or not, and whether I am in Washington, traveling, or in my district.

It's an interesting idea. It would be nice to know how much of their time is taken up by lobbyists, for example.

4th Senate Debate In the Works

The Lamont campaign is saying that a fourth U.S. Senate debate is going to happen. Fox 61 is sponsoring.

Lieberman has yet to accept. I'd think based on his comments after the debate on Monday that he'll be hesitant to accept--which will rob Alan Schlesinger of his favorite foil. Oh, well. We'll see if Lieberman decides to jump in--hopefully he will.

Doesn't seem like minor party, non-incumbent candidates are welcome.

Noticed

Interesting:
Senators in line to become heads of committees should Democrats win control of the Senate:
[...]
Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs: Christopher Dodd of Connecticut
[...]
Homeland Security: Joe Lieberman of Connecticut (AP)

Huh. One more thing to consider.

Source
"List of potential chairmen in a Democratic-controlled Senate." Associated Press 26 October, 2006.

Abbate Feels Abandoned by Rell

The Journal-Inquirer reports that Republican Secretary of the State candidate Richard Abbate is feeling left behind by Gov. Rell:
Secretary of the state candidate Richard J. Abbate said this week that the governor's campaign "hasn't been terribly cooperative to those of us on the underticket" and failed to provide the help he had anticipated.

"I fully expected that I would receive a phone call in the first week or two after the convention inviting me to a general strategy meeting with the governor," Abbate, former president of the Connecticut Association of Registrars of Voters, told the Journal Inquirer this week. "What I expected never happened.

"The fact of the matter is there was no real concept to taking a team approach to the Republican ticket this year," he added. "There has been no statewide coordination." (Phaneuf)

He's right, of course. The expectation this year, as in the past two elections, was that the Republican underticket by and large was there for show. None of them were really expected to win against powerful, well-funded Democratic opponents. All of the candidates for constitutional offices, excluding the governor, lag behind their opponents in fundraising by an overwhelming margin.

This is too bad. Why should Richard Blumenthal or Nancy Wyman be in their offices for as long as they like? Why should they face no serious opposition?

It's a shame that the state GOP has essentially ceded control of the legislature and the constitutional offices to the Democrats. How likely is it that they will cede control of the 2nd, the 4th and the 5th congressional districts, should they lose those? What about the governor's office in 2010? Will Jodi Rell be our last Republican governor?

A healthy democracy needs a healthy and competitive opposition. The Republicans need to get their act together.

Source

Phaneuf, Keith. "GOP underticket candidate says he feels abandoned." Journal-Inquirer 26 October, 2006.

Money in Politics

It's a tale of two stories, probably signifying nothing. Yesterday the Journal-Inquirer reported that out of contributors were the main contributors to a CT based 527. Campaigns have been complaining about the the 527s who routinely attack, so it was somewhat of a surprise to read that this group
-- is perhaps best known for a flier mailed under its name to state voters last month that on one side asked, "When George Bush wanted to close the New London Sub Base, who was there to stop him?"

The answer, printed on the other side, was "Connecticut's Joe Lieberman," whom the flier praised not only for "saving" the sub base but also for "fighting for the needy." source: Journal-Inquirer
A 527 actually producing postive campaign literature about a candidate's record? Will wonders never cease. Ofcourse moveon.org is not exactly funded by a majority of Connecticut contributers either. The other money story in the news comes from the Courant. This story led with "Lamont Gets Little From Senate Dems", and went on to say
Senatorial committee spokesman Phil Singer insisted the party is aiding Lamont. "In campaigns where candidates have plenty of their own resources, the DSCC helps in other ways," he said. Lamont has given his campaign $12.7 million.

"In this campaign," Singer said, "the DSCC has helped with research, debate prep, and staffing among other forms of support."

But the committee is not prodding its members to give donations. Six senators' political committees did give Lamont $5,000 each: Reid, Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., Barack Obama, D-Ill., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Russ Feingold, D-Wis. Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin's committee gave $1,000. Clinton also hosted a fundraiser for Lamont in Manhattan Sunday.

Notably absent were donations from committees controlled by such veteran senators as Illinois' Sen. Richard J. Durbin, the Senate's second-ranking Democrat; Delaware's Joseph R. Biden Jr.; Vermont's Patrick J. Leahy; and Hawaii's Daniel K. Inouye. (source: Courant)
In reality, Senate Dems realize that gaining a majority in the Senate is more important than funding the quixotic campaign of Ned Lamont. Chris Dodd may be making commercials with Lamont, but he's sending his money elsewhere.
Dodd's political committee, CHRISPAC, and Friends of Chris Dodd, his Senate committee, have given about $700,000 to Democratic candidates and parties during the current election cycle. Since August, when Lamont became his party's nominee, Dodd has made contributions to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; to close House races in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa and Vermont; and to Senate races in Montana, Rhode Island, Virginia and Tennessee.

But nothing for Lamont. (source: Courant)
The bigger money story we should be asking appeared in a Republican-American editorial.
Whatever happens to Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4th District, on Election Day, he'll long be remembered for his campaign-finance-reform work. He crusaded long and tirelessly to dampen the corrupting influence of money on politics. And by at least two measures, he failed, mainly because he focused on the wrong problem.

Campaign spending this year will reach a record $2.6 billion, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. "That comes to an average of $59 per vote in Senate races and $35 per vote in the House," Reuters news service reported.

The real problem, as this column and others have noted many times, is the value of the service Congress provides to special interests -- about $2.6 billion worth in 2006. If Congress limited itself to its zone of constitutional authority, interest groups, businesses and industries wouldn't be in the business of buying Congress members. They wouldn't be worth the expense. (source: Republican-American)
Yes Congress is for sale. Campaign finance reform has done nothing to stop the flow of cash to members of Congress and certainly this Republican congress has done nothing to curb the outflow of tax payer money to the corporations who demand it. Whether its people-powered interests groups, or corporate-powered lobbyists, the unchecked flow of money into political campaigns is the real outrage.

Journal Inquirer, Big out-of-state donors behind 'Connecticut' group helping Lieberman, By Don Michak, 10/25/2006

Courant, Lamont Gets Little From Senate Dems By DAVID LIGHTMAN, October 25, 2006

Republican-American Torrent of cash floods campaigns, October 26, 2006

Johnson Lampoons Murphy Ads

It's clever. It's nasty.

It's also about as subtle as a bag of hammers.

Click here to see Nancy Johnson's new ad, which makes fun of Murphy ads in which he is out knocking on doors. Here's Rinker Buck's summary:
"I'm Chris Murphy," the Johnson ad begins, featuring five seconds of footage from Murphy's ad. "And I'm running for Congress by knocking on doors."

But then the ad quickly shifts to a rear shot of Murphy, now played by an actor impersonating the state senator walking door-to-door. The next frames show a woman telling Murphy to "keep walking!" because he "raised our taxes 27 times," and then another woman slapping Murphy because he provided "housing for sex offenders." The ad closes when Murphy reaches another house, where he is warmly embraced by a garishly dressed drug dealer.

"Murphy!" the actor playing the drug dealer says. "You want to weaken penalties for drug dealers, man! That's so cool. Come on in." (Buck)

A drug dealer? Is this ad implying that Murphy has been looking out for his pot-smoking friends? Jeez.

Murphy hasn't exactly run a positive campaign, but it seems like Johnson has been pushing the envelope much more--for example, this ad, the wiretaps ad from last month, and the repeated, somewhat misleading assertions that Murphy has voted to raise taxes "27 times".

The cululative effect of a blizzard of negative ads often seems to be that voters, especially independents, get thoroughly sick of both candidates. I wonder if that's happening in the 5th District?

For the sake of reference, all of Murphy's ads are here, and a good share of them are negative. Johnson's ads are here and on her home page.

Source
Buck, Rinker. "Johnson Ups Ante In New Ad Salvo." Hartford Courant 26 October, 2006.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Open Forum

Two weeks to go.

John Kerry and Bob Kerrey campaigned in state for Ned Lamont and Joe Lieberman respectively.

Simmons is accused of flip-flopping on social security privitization.

Lt. Gov. candidates will debate Friday morning on CT public radio (from 9-10am). Mike Fedele is still an unknown quantity--we know Mary Glassman a lot better. Too bad it's not televised.

Lastly, out of staters are meddling in our U.S. Senate campaign. Again.

What else is going on?

Surprise!

The New Jersey Supreme Court today ruled that same-sex couples deserve the same rights as straight couples, and ordered the legislature to rectify the situation.
New Jersey's Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that same-sex couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples.

But the court left it to the Legislature to determine whether the state will honor gay marriage or some other form of civil union.

Advocates on both sides of the issue believed the state posed the best chance for gay marriage to win approval since Massachusetts became the only state to do so in 2003 because the New Jersey Supreme Court has a history of extending civil rights protections.

Instead, the high court stopped short of fully approving gay marriage and gave lawmakers 180 days to rewrite marriage laws to either include gay couples or create new civil unions. (AP)

This is the right ruling, I think. It strikes a balance that a lot of people will be able to live with.

But. It's October. It's late October, and everything is political. Is this what the national Republican Party, reeling from scandal, Iraq and the misfortunes of an unpopular president, has been looking for?

The ramifications, if there are any, won't be strongly felt here in Connecticut. We have civil unions already, and only the extremists at the Family Institute seem to care. But what about in Virginia? What about Montana, or Idaho? Will a mild ruling in New Jersey help light a fire under disenchanted evangelical voters?

We'll see.

Source

"New Jersey court recognizes right to same-sex unions." Associated Press 25 October, 2006.

NYT Endorses Farrell

In a strongly worded editorial, the New York Times endorsed 4th district Congressional challenger Diane Farrell today.

From the Editorial:

When Ms. Farrell first challenged Mr. Shays two years ago, The Times chose to endorse him as a rare voice for moderation within a Republican caucus that seemed bent on distracting the electorate with assaults on gay marriage, flag burning and abortion while running up the deficit, encouraging a ruinous war in Iraq and supporting a White House bent on exalting the power of the president at the expense of the Constitution.

Now it is time to draw the line. Mr. Shays may be a beacon of integrity, but if he is re-elected, he will vote to continue House control by a party that has repeatedly sold out the country to special-interest lobbyists. His position on Iraq, which has gone through tortuous re-evaluations, now seems basically sensible. But if he is re-elected, he will support a Republican leadership that has refused to question even the most ruinous decisions by George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld about the conduct of American foreign policy.


I predict victory for Farrell.

Source

Editorial. "A Congressional Endorsement". New York Times. 10/25/06

Norwalk Round Up at the Ok Corral

Heading into the final weeks of the campaign season, Norwalk politics continues to make the news. The Hour provides several interesting items.

This Thursday Senate Candidate Fred Wilms hosts a transportation round table.
Wilms said the discussion will begin with a review of positive steps taken by Hartford, and then turn to "new steps ... needed to continue unlocking the gridlock on Interstate 95." The roundtable discussion also will address ways to improve mass transportation, Wilms said.
Invited to participate as panelists in the discussion: State Senate Minority Leader Louis C. DeLuca, R-32; state House Assistant Minority Leader Toni Boucher, R-143; and Eric Brown, associate counsel at The Connecticut Business & Industry Association. Brown is responsible for developing policy positions on environmental, transportation and land-use issues for the association. (source: The Hour)
Wilms has developed a strong command of the many challenges facing regional transportation and is wise to continue holding round tables on these important issues with other regional leaders. The problems facing Norwalk’s gridlock will not be solved by insular thinking.

Where Wilms misses the mark is his position on Super 7.
"While I support a new Super 7, unfortunately the prospects do not look realistic," Wilms said. "As such I support the further enhancements to the existing Route 7 plus support improvements to the Danbury train line. Improving the Danbury line would allow for faster and more frequent train service." (source: The Hour)
Widening route 7, clear cutting trees that once lined the stretch of road leading through Wilton is so bad on so many fronts. State Senator Bob Duff is strongly in favor of Super 7.
Duff stands by the proposed expressway, which he said would alleviate "a bottleneck that stretches from Norwalk to Danbury and beyond." He calls the Route 7 widening now beginning as a "complete waste of taxpayers money."
"I believe that Super 7 is a critical road to be built for the economic prosperity of our area," Duff said. "The land is there to do it and I think the will is there. There's still a lot of fight." (source: The Hour)
In other news state Sen. President Pro Tempore Donald E. Williams, Jr., D-29, appointed Duff to the Property Revaluation Work Group. The work group’s goal is to provide recommendations on streamlining municipal property revaluations.
Duff said the work group will create a master contract for municipalities to use when hiring revaluation vendors and develop a revaluation schedule and implementation procedures.
The group will consider municipal assessment rules to ensure that procedures are clearly defined, that quality assurance is in place, and that inspection requirements clarified, and that phase-in provisions are "clear and workable" for those municipalities that choose to phase in a revaluation, Duff said. Source: The Hour)
Common Council President Michael W. Coffey, defacto leader of the Norwalk Democrats, made the front page with his endorsement of Senator Joe Lieberman.
"Joseph Lieberman is someone who does what he thinks is right for the residents of Norwalk, right for the state of Connecticut and what's right for our country," Coffey said. "I'd like to see him serve six more years as a U.S. senator for the state of Connecticut. He has done an excellent job."
Coffey’s support was echoed by Councilman Herbert A. Grant.
"His experience as a Senator for this area gives him the seniority and the ability to be able to work in a bi-partisan manner to continue to help the state of Connecticut to get its equal share of federal funds, to advance the state as well as its largest municipalities," said Herbert A. Grant, who represents District A on the Common Council.
Democratic Town Committee chairwoman Galen Wells was apparently unhappy.
Reiterating comments made following Lieberman's defeat in the Democratic primary in August, Norwalk Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Galen Wells urged Democrats to support Lamont as the winner of that primary. She labeled Coffey's endorsement of Lieberman a "mistake for any Democrat." (Source: The Hour)
Wells added that she was unaware of any Democrats other than Coffey supporting Lieberman. An unofficial poll of Norwalk Democratic leaders revealed quite a different result.

Lex Paulson met with The Hour review board to knock Lawrence Cafero’s votes against the against the school nutrition bill and against stem cell research. Cafero responded
Cafero said when it comes to stem cell research and school nutrition, "you have to go beyond the title of the bill."
He opposed a bill devoting $100 million over 10 years to stem cell research in Connecticut only because it did not enforce a ban on human cloning with penalties, Cafero said, adding that, at his urging, fines and prison terms for human cloning were later included in other legislation.
Embryonic stem cell research has been criticized by some social conservatives, who compare the practice to abortion.
And Cafero said the school nutrition bill was insufficient, because it took sugary sodas out of Connecticut high schools without educating students as to proper nutrition or exercise habits. (Source: The Hour)


The Norwalk Hour Wilms to host roundtable discussion on transportation By ROBERT KOCH 10/24/06

The Norwalk Hour, Duff to serve with group studying property revaluation By ROBERT KOCH, 10/24/06

The Norwalk Hour, Council chief bucks party; backs Joe By ROBERT KOCH 10/24/06

The Norwalk Hour Here to stay: Dem challenger discusses platformBy PATRICK R. LINSEY 10/25/06

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Interview with Alan Schlesinger

Genghis Conn and CGG coauthored this piece

U.S. Senate candidate Alan Schlesinger (R) has burst onto the political scene in a way that no one expected or thought possible just a few short weeks ago. His lively, funny and interesting performance at the recent senatorial debates has sparked a lot of interest in his once-moribund campaign, and the hope among Lamont supporters that a resurgent Schlesinger will be able to take enough votes away from Sen. Joe Lieberman to cost him a victory on November 7th.

CGG and I sat down with Schlesinger last Saturday over coffee in Middletown.


The Gambling Scandal

Here's what Schlesinger had to say about the gambling scandal that essentially knocked him out of the race for most of the election season:
Number one, I never broke a rule, regulation or law. When I was asked to get a wampum card it was for their marketing program only, there was no ID required whatsoever. If I wrote down 'please give me Daffy Duck', they would have brought back a card that said 'Daffy Duck'. It was a meaningless thing for a marketing program.

You do not have identification when you play in the casino, only if you want to be part of their marketing program. You can go up there today. Go and play, and if you just want to say no I don't want to be what they call rated you can play all day long under any name you want or no name. There is no law, there is no reg that says you have to.

The second issue that they brought up for me, which was a low ball hit by the Courant was two disputes I had with the casinos almost twenty years ago, about the fact that I'm a skilled player. That's why I, they were harassing me at those casinos. [...] They would reshuffle constantly, so I would lead. So when they did that to me it was embarassing me because everyone where I was playing said: 'why are you doing this?' So I said: "Oh yeah? See if I pay you back your marker!" I was in a dispute to show them that I was fighting back because I was very antagonistic to them violating the law. There was a lawsuit in Atlantic City that said you cannot discriminate against skilled players. So I wanted to show them that you cannot skirt the law by playing games like this.

So I made my stance. I was young, I was brash, and I was wanting to show them who I was. There never was any legal pleedings or anything. I never spoke to an attorney. I just had the dispute, I settled it, and by the way the numbers they put in the paper? Total fabrication. Those where what they were going to sue me for I guess in their company complaint when they threw in the kitchen sink with all this other stuff.

And there was never... they made it sound like I had gambling debts that I couldn't pay. It was a dispute between the casino and me about them saying they would treat me a certain way, and I said 'no you won't'. I was making a point, and I paid it.

Social Security

Schlesinger, first and foremost, wants to get Congress's fiscal house in order. “I’ve always prided myself on being responsible," he said. "I always felt that I was the fiscal conscience of the [state] legislature when I was there.” His major problem with the current system revolves around Social Security:
AS: As bad as the state legislature is, it’s a microcosm of congress, and they’re so out of touch with what is right and what we need to do, that it’s actually scary, especially For your generation, because you’re going to be left holding such a big bag that it’s going to be unsustainable. So something’s gotta give. Will it be: out generation--my generation working until they’re 90? That’s possible—but they haven’t been told that. Will it be that your generation is going to have to pay taxes that they never dreamt of, and it’s going to be so hard to make ends meet because of what they’re going to be oppressed with? And what’s so bad is that you won’t be benefiting from it. It’s truly a pyramid scheme, what has happened. … I really don’t care why, it is what it is. Lamont is stuck on the ‘why’. I’m stuck on ‘where do we go from here?’ which is where people are.

GC: Now when you say that Congress is out of touch, Congress is dominated by your party, by the Republican Party. Do you think the Republican leadership is out of touch?

AS: Yes. Yes! I am not going to be a real popular member of the caucus. I don’t care if I get re-elected. I want to send a message down to these guys in Washington that enough is enough. Cut the baloney. Start telling people the truth. And this is not something new to me. I was the most unpopular member of the caucus in Hartford—why do you think I have so much trouble with my party?

To hear Lieberman get up there and say again in this last debate [the debate that aired on Thursday, Oct 18th] ‘Social Security is all set, it’s all funded until 2040’... Now, either his staff is also drinking the kool-aid, or he’s being disingenuous, he’s being deceptive. He says we have a disagreement. You can disagree about policy. You can’t disagree with the facts.

First thing I want to do is what everyone thinks is being done already: immediately segregate FICA taxes, payroll taxes from the general fund.

Social Security can be taken care of. That’s the one I can take care of. If I go down to Wash and accomplish just that, put Social Security on a sound funding basis, I will have accomplished everything I wanted to do in my life. More, it’s a bonus. But if I can do just that one thing, I will be so happy for the people of America.
[...]
I want everyone is this state to know that what [Sen. Lieberman] said in the debates was an out-and-out lie. Period. […] when he said we’re all set till 2040, that was not true.

What they do is they take every dime that comes in on Social Security, FICA taxes, they pay the current recipients, a pay as you go system, then there’s a nice surplus. This year it’s running at $170 billion. They put it and offset part of the deficit of the general fund. […] Then, they take out a pad of paper and they write it down as if it’s still there.
[…]
The problem is—this pad of paper is what Joe Lieberman is telling you we can rely on to pay checks through 2040. Can anyone explain how we get money out of a pad of paper with numbers on it and no cash? How do you spend money and say it’s still there?”

Schlesinger wants to separate FICA from the general fund, then put the surplus from FICA into a “mortgage pool” and have it earn interest, while keeping mortgage rates low. This money would go back into the Social Security trust fund, meaning, he said, “...you have the Social Security trust fund invested in the people of the U.S.”

National Security and Immigration

We asked Schlesinger about the balance between liberty and security. He believes that we have, in the past, gone too far in the direction of security, to liberty's detriment (he cited the Japanese internment camps as an example).
AS: I have to believe that if we have to err we have to err on the side of safety. Now, some people’s rights are going to be trampled on. They always are, this is not a perfect world. […] And I have grave concerns about what the Congress just passed about giving the insurgent camps unlimited control over their prisoners.

GC: Would you have voted for it?

AS: I probably would have voted for it only if it contained a sunset provision so that it would be revisited every two years. I’d also make sure there was habeas corpus available for military tribunals.

Schlesinger also favors a much stricter policy towards illegal immigration, and advocates the construction of a wall on the border. He also proposes a seasonal work visa program, which will have no road to citizenship and no road to permanent residency. "They get in line with everyone else," Schlesinger said. However, he hopes his plan will encourage workers to use this program to come to the United States legally--and then go home again. “What I’m trying to accomplish here is telling these workers, there’s no need to slip over the fence.” He also wants workers to be proficient in English in five years, and to concentrate enforcement efforts on employers.

Switching to Schlesinger: Courting the "What the Hell?" Vote

Alan Schlesinger believes the race is still winnable, and is skeptical of the poll numbers. "We're not at 8%. I don't know who they're polling but they must be polling illegal immigrints waiting in line for Joe Lieberman's amnesty." He also cites ballot placement as a factor in his favor. "Remember where I am on that ballot, next to Jodi Rell. Lieberman's on row six or seven."

Schlesinger is counting on a last minute rush of support from voters who are skeptical of Lamont and Lieberman, estimating that he could gain as much as 10 points from last minute voters. "I think I'm gonna get the 'what the hell vote'.... They prefer me to Lieberman, they're worried about Lamont. But I think they're going to say 'what the hell.'"

He was also skeptical of the notion that a vote for Schlesinger was a vote for Lamont saying, "Just look at the last poll. If you believe any of it. Interestingly they say I've taken more from Lamont than Lieberman."

The debates have breathed new life into Schlesinger's campaign, and he couldn't be happier about that. Now when he campaigns people know him from TV. It's also forced the press to pay attention to his candidacy. "It's because the press is giving me, not an extra shot, a fair shot. They chose to make this a two way race. If they had made this a three way race on October 1st I'd probably be in the lead right now."

Schlesinger plans to air television commercials starting later this week.