January 13, 2010
By Ken Krayeske • 9:25 PM EST
Simsbury Democratic Town Committee joke, cerca 1994. Note the white medical tape covering the year. I saw this at a party in West Hartford, Saturday, January 9, 2010.
UPDATE, 1/24/10: In the 10 days since I actually wrote this piece, I realized I forgot one Republicans, business cheerleader Oz Griebel, and another three GOPers announced in this time frame.
CTLocalpolitics has the poop on Mark Boughton, xenophobic Danbury mayor, Jeff Wright, Newington Mayor and Tom Marsh, First Selectman of Chester.
When I started writing this column three days ago, exactly 10 people had announced candidacies for the Connecticut gubernatorial race.
The next day, there were nine, then there were 10 again. If you’re having trouble keeping up with the shifting political landscape as players struggle to fill the power vacuum left by departing incumbents, you’re not alone.
To sort all this out, I am going to list all the candidates who have so far expressed interest in running for governor in 2010.
With some candidates displaying self-centered opportunism and a lack of dignity and integrity in chasing higher office, it’s easy to become cynical about the nascent gubernatorial contest, which is still 10 months away.
Yet at the same time, these large crop of candidates brings with it a dose of optimism that yes, this is good for self-governance, this means healthy debate and exciting ideas will be exchanged. I’m not saying this will happen, but it’s good to hope.
Even more reason for optimism is the calcification that petrified the upper-echelons of executive office since 1994 has softened.
Without further ado, here is a rundown of the candidates, some of whom will be shuffled again in a few weeks, for sure.
1. Susan Bysiewicz (D) represents the self-centered candidate. She has been Secretary of the State for 12 years, getting itchy. So she throws her hat in the ring for Governor, and believe it or not, is leading the field.
Then Dodd retires from the Senate, and Blumenthal jumps on it, Bysiewicz job opens up, and Bysiewicz, a Yale educated lawyer, says, hey, I am considering that one, too.
After 12 years, an ambitious politica like Bysiewicz has imagined herself in both the Governor’s chair and the AG’s seat. She has interacted with both, and has some level of familiarity with both. But when you decide to apply for one job, midway through, you don’t tell the company that you want another job, do you?
Most importantly, who do Susie’s delegates go to?
2. Ned Lamont has a 20-something campaign manager who made the Hartford Courant this week for possibly approving a misallocation of political action committee funds for another candidate.
Not great, but Lamont can self-finance. In a race where the Second Circuit may slash the Clean Election Program, after it hears arguments on Wednesday, January 13, 2010 in the Green Party lawsuit, and Republicans may try to buy the race, Lamont may be an option.
Yet progressives so enchanted with Lamont for his anti-Iraq-war-but-white-phosphorous-on-Lebanese-civilains-is-okay campaign in 2006 may be less enamored of Lamont’s likely pro-business, anti-union stance.
3. Rudy Marconi is the First Selectman of Ridgefield seeking a promotion in a party lacks a king-maker. Years ago, he would have been told to wait his turn.
He is producing internet video spots that the cognoscenti have noted because he challenges Lamont to stick with public financing. But can Marconi reach the public campaign financing benchmarks to make it a contest?
4. Juan Figueroa is a former Hartford state rep and community leader who led the charge on passing Sustinet, the state health care plan. But he is taking the hardest route to a Democratic Party primary possible. He wants to collect 15,000 signatures of registered Democrats in six weeks time to force a primary.
This was Lamont’s back-up plan in 2006, and it is not easy to touch 45,000 registered Democrats in six weeks. Perhaps he thinks that the Sustinet grass-roots crew that he has built over the years can be his field crew to make this tough slog happen.
His best bet would be to rent the Civic Center and get everyone to come to him. His strategy makes it possible for their to be a seven way primary – if all six remaining candidates get 15 percent of delegates at the convention, the number necessary to force the primary.
5. Mary Glassman is the First Selectman of Simsbury and a former Lt. Gov. candidate. I recently met a Simsbury Democratic Town Committee old-timer who was wearing a tiny “Glassman for Governor” pin. The year was hidden by well-placed white medical tape.
At first, I thought the pin said 2002, but the old-timer joked. “We made them in 1994 on town committee as a joke,” he said.
Ahhh. I see. But Glassman seems to be the best positioned. She’s got some statewide name recognition, served as a bureaucrat and an elected official. She knows tons of people. A Glassman-Marconi ticket, perhaps?
6. Gary LeBeau is a six-term state senator and former history teacher from East Hartford. He has called for eliminating the Senate to create a unicameral legislature. He has been polling well, and has a civic resume. Can he lead?
7. Dan Malloy – One wonders how much of a toll being a public servant has taken on Malloy’s private life. It would be interesting to hear if Malloy’s travails as a father have impacted his ideas on policy, and what courage he has accumulated to approach some of the daunting challenges of our day.
As opposed to the candidate shifters, Malloy has had as a goal the gubernatorial seat for ages, losing in 2006. He is consistent, but is he burnt-out?
8. Jim Amman – The former speaker of the House Still thinks he has mojo. He is the last of the Democrats in this list. He has no support among the Lamont Progressives, and he too, is counting on public financing.
Can he surmount the difficult hurdles he helped create in the public campaign legislation, especially in a field where seven people are now vying for the limited cash resources of state Democrats?
9. Michael Fedele is the current Lt. Gov. who can’t seem to get the endorsement of the current Governor. Fedele is probably responsible for the rumors that Rell was resigning to give him the shot at incumbency. Is he even worth the ink?
10. Tom Foley – Another rich Greenwich businessman who threatens to tilt the state of Connecticut’s electoral picture to the southwest (Blumenthal, Lamont, McMahon and Foley are all Stamford/Greenwich millonaires).
Foley is a Bushie through and through, he even worked for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.
I trust him less than thin ice. Foley will likely self-finance, because he, like McMahon, can buy an election. It is a sad state of affairs, indeed.
Foley, like Bysiewicz, jumped races. After Linda McMahon anted up her $50 million war chest, Foley decided that he could better serve the people as Governor. These are completely different jobs, with completely different demands and thought processes.
The policy ideas and contacts required for both are not even close to similar, but, for an ambitious for a party guy, it seemed the next best thing. But this race switching is not good for citizens or the republic, as it is a sub-species of Joe Lieberman’s selfishness in running for both Senate and Vice President in 2000.
This race-switching phenomenon occurs because of incumbency and wealth. The people who have reached the top – whether by electoral advantage or pure capitalistic maneuvering - enjoy the spoils of a gamed system, and determine what is best for them and their party, not the body public.
As a party guy, Foley stepped aside from McMahon, and said hey, I want power and prestige. I want to be governor.
It’s like state Senator Sam Caligiuri of Waterbury who originally wanted to run for U.S. Senator against the wounded Chris Dodd. Caligiuri was one of the first of an eventual five GOPers to toss his hat in the ring.
He served his time as a Republican – he was a state lawyer for Rowland, mopped up after child molester Giordano, and served two terms as a state Senator. He wanted a promotion, and if he couldn’t jump up to U.S. Senate, well then, Congress would do.
Funny thing is, Justin Bernier, another GOPer, had already had his eye on challenging Chris Murphy, and Bernier had done some significant fundraising.
The race jumping does not elevate policy discourse, as neither Foley nor Caligiuri or Bysiewicz has explained their burning desire to go for different positions.
It’s pathetic to see how transparent and phony our elections are. But then steps in another candidate to kind of restore your confidence.
11. Larry DeNardis was the last person to beat Joe Lieberman in a general election (1980 – Congressional race in New Haven), and also was the last Republican to serve New Haven in Congress. DeNardis, aged 71, on Tuesday, January 12 announced his intentions to return to public life after serving as president of University of New Haven for more than a decade.
I haven’t heard any of his ideas, but I can’t imagine that he wants to legalize marijuana, revolutionize property tax, reform the state police and create a single payer health care system. But at the same time, he wants to serve, and may bring gravitas to a fractured field.