August 2, 2007
By Ken Krayeske • 7:45 PM EST
Who called looking for opinions on the Mayoral Race?
A one-question poll about the Mayoral primary solicited by an inscrutable company made the rounds of prime voter phone lines last week.
My number came up in the queue last Thursday evening, and I happened to answer the ring ring.
“If the Mayoral election were held tomorrow, would you be voting for Mayor Eddie Perez or someone else?” the mysterious Polly Pollster asked me, identifying herself as an employee of TCG Independent Research Company.
“I’ll answer your question if you tell me who hired you,” I responded to Polly. She declined, I sought to speak to a supervisor.
“In order for us to remain as unbiased as possible, we have not been provided with the information as to who is paying for this,” said Antonio Stevenson, a supervisor at TCG Independent Research Company.
Can you tell me where TCG is located? I asked.
“For security reasons, I cannot divulge that information,” Stevenson said.
Well, then I won’t be answering your question, I told him, and terminated the conversation. If I don’t know who is going to manipulate my opinion for their gain, they can’t have my thoughts for free.
It’s not I. Charles Mathews polling.
“We might in the future,” Mathews said. “We have done some informal polling, but we have not hired a soul yet.”
Depending on the income from an upcoming fundraiser sponsored by Mayor Mike Peters, Mathews said he may be in a position to purchase some scientific polling.
Nor is it Art Feltman.
“We don’t have that kind of money,” said David Kovacs, Feltman’s campaign manager.
“We did focus groups, and it has been extremely valuable,” Feltman said, noting that the focus group research cost around $4,000.
Ah, so perhaps it is Eddie Perez doing the polling?
Perez campaign manager Kenny Curran would neither confirm nor deny that Perez is polling. In the past, Curran said that Perez has used JEF Associates of Springfield, Mass to conduct polls.
Perez hired JEF to poll in the first quarter, and in the second quarter, Perez paid JEF $5,500 for a poll, Curran said, reading off his campaign finance report.
A good local political poll with a universe of 400 people would cost between $12,000 and $15,000, Kovacs said, adding that he would dearly love polling numbers.
Oddly enough, Perez’s administration hired JEF for some $20,000 in 2005 to conduct a public opinion poll about the quality of services in the city of Hartford.
While JEF polled for Ned Lamont’s 2006 senate campaign (whom Curran worked against as a Lieberman aide), Feltman noted that the double-dipping was a Perez trademark.
“I think it is a pattern,” he said. “People who Perez favors, they get to eat from more than one trough.”
Feltman pointed to Perez people like Evelyn Mantilla, a former state rep who contracted out to the Hartford Registrar of Voters, also toiled for Perez’s campaign, or Noel MacGregor who worked for the Perez campaign and the Hartford Housing Authority.
We may never know who “TCG” is, as it is standard polling practice to alter company names while asking voters questions, according to one source.
If they did buy the poll, the Perez camp would not tell the polling agency who they as purchasers are, Curran said. But the formulation of the questions would have been a collaborative effort.
“I think polling is semi-useful,” Curran said. “Most of our work is direct voter contact with going door to door. But polling is a snapshot in time. I tend to rely more on the feedback our volunteers are getting, as regular voter contact is the only way to gauge public opinion.”
From the voter contact I have, people are fed up with Perez. But defeating the man with more than $300,000 at his disposal won’t be easy.
Just to make us feel a little worse, last week, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano received about $27,000 in public funding to run his campaign for re-election of the Elm City.
DeStefano was the first candidate in state history to claim such funds, as the state legislature made the money available on a test basis in New Haven only, where DeStefano faces no serious challengers.
Whereas in Hartford, Perez faces serious challengers in Feltman and Mathews. And Feltman said he doesn’t recall the debate in the state legislature that created the public funding for the municipal election.
But boy, it would have made things more competitive. All primary challengers face the daunting task of collecting 1,500 signatures of registered Democrats to petition their way on to the fall primary ballot, while Perez enjoys the incumbent status of free ballot access as the endorsed Democrat.
But it seems that many people will skip the primary if they can’t get the signatures, because the November ballot requires only 150 or so signatures.
Youth candidate Raul DeJesus sent out an email Monday, July 30 saying he was skipping the primary and heading straight into November. Feltman said he filed the papers the same day for the general in November.
More from the Mayor's race next week. Until then, keep me posted and polled at email@example.com