Quick Comment on the Election

Sites such as the CT Mirror have been posting articles about the Connecticut gubernatorial election. Based on posts I’ve seen on twitter and facebook along these media stories it appears that people are overblowing the problems. Even with the problem ballots tossed Malloy has a win that is greater than needed for a recount. Certainly there was some negligence in Bridgeport but ultimately that negligence will not have had an impact on the final outcome. Furthermore are some people trying to blame Susan Bysiewicz, who has little control over the matter. It was probably a mistake for her to hold the press conference and put herself in front the spotlight considering she lacked control over this, but I don’t think she can be blamed for the problems that occurred over the past few days..

The Dautrich Report

Remember the controversy with UCONN Professor Ken Dautrich? The report has been released. Ultimately it appears that some state money was spent on some partisan political activity and they recommended some discipline for Prof. Dautrich. Based on the report it appears the professor at least made an attempt to keep things separate, but did not manage to actually do so.

This just goes to show how difficult it is to avoid the appearance of corruption in such a small state where people with unique skill sets end up having to wear many hats. I’m sure the experience was valuable to the students, but it is important that we do not allow state resources to be used to unfairly aid incumbents.

Connecticut Attorney General Debate @ UCONN Law

Earlier tonight I attended the Connecticut Attorney General debate at UCONN Law. Democrat George Jepsen debated Republican Martha Dean. The debate started off rather light but after the first question or two the contrast between them could not have been larger. George Jespen framed himself as a traditional democrat while Martha Dean embraced her position as the tea party candidate.

This was especially apparent when candidates were asked how they would respond to the state government attempting to slash the Attorney General’s office budget by ten percent. Jepsen pointed out that the office manages to bring in revenue for the state and while he certainly would work to create efficiency he suggested that the government not be “penny-wise and pound-foolish.” Dean said she would work to create efficiency and claimed that there is a lot of waste in the office that she could eliminate. She did not elaborate on the waste but referenced a state auditor’s report. In her rebuttal she expressed concern that Jepsen saw the Attorney General’s office as a source of revenue. She claimed that it “violated the separation of powers” for the Attorney General’s office to be a revenue source and that only the legislature could do that.

When asked about the qualifications she would look for in employees Dean attacked young people. She recited the quote “if you are under 20 and not a liberal you have no heart, and if you are over 40 and not a conservative you have no brain.” She then proceeded to suggest that young people should work in the “real world” for a few years before they should be allowed to serve in government. Jepsen was more realistic and raised the fact that due to the state budget crises it was unlikely he would be able to hire new attorneys soon, but did agree that fresh law school graduates should spend a few years in other jobs before moving to government.

Candidates spent a lot of time talking about Richard Blumenthal. Jepsen generally stuck by Blumenthal and Candidate Dean attempted to paint Jepsen as being too close to Blumenthal and also accused Jepsen of being political. Jepsen responded by pointing out that Dean herself was political and reiterating that he was proud of his service. Both candidates certainly raised political issues and Dean was not reluctant to admit she would consider putting out position papers on important issues like Blumenthal does.

The other theme in the debate was George Jepsen. Jepsen laid out his views, positions, and took only a few jabs at Dean. In contrast, Dean not only extolled her own virtues, but spent a lot of time attacking Jepsen. She attained the nearly magical feat of being in control and out of control at the same time by moving questions away from their issue and turning them into attacks. Jepsen was more reserved preferring to address the issues and only went off topic when Dean steered the debate in that direction.

This resulted in Dean giving the debate win to George Jepsen on a silver platter. Had Dean decided to keep focused on her own virtues I think she would have been able to win it. Instead she chose to keep the focus on Jepsen and as a result his thoughtful statements and lighthearted manner shined through.

Apathy, Not Laws, Barrier to Independent Candidates

Today Lowell Weicker wrote an op-ed for the Hartford Courant criticizing the state laws that prevent independent candidates from participating. State laws and paperwork requirements serve as an easy target for people saying that it is too difficult to run for office. However as someone who has worked on campaigns I can assure you that among all the barriers to running the paperwork is the least of it.<p>Running a campaign is not as much of an exercise in paperwork as it is an exercise in footwork. As a candidate if you want to be viable you need to get together a core group of supporters that will bring your message to their friends, family, and neighbors. These people need to not only be willing to vote for you, but also give you money, sign your petition, and make calls or knock doors. While there are votes to be rounded up by carpet bombing the electorate with television ads and mailers, these votes are not going to materialize unless you have a ground presence.</p><p>Democrats and Republicans have an easier time because the infrastructure and support for them is already in place. Town Committees meet on a monthly basis and the people in them are willing to do these things. The people on the town committees then serve as information providers for their friends and family in the community. They are the political junkies that their friends turn to in order to understand what is happening in these elections. In Connecticut if a candidate is running for an office in a major party they have probably stopped by your town committee meeting at least once and you’ve had the opportunity to meet the candidate and ask the candidate questions.</p><p>Independent candidates are stuck building this infrastructure from square one. They have much larger hurdles to clear culturally and logistically than those running with the entrenched parties. However if they are able to put in the hard work it is not impossible to clear these hurdles.</p>

Third Parties

I noticed today via a Capitol Watch Blog Post that Ken Krayeske has been nominated to run against my Congressman John Larson by the Green Party. The blog post depicts a candidate that is realistic about his chances (suggesting that while he might not win he hopes to raise the requisite $15,000 to participate in League of Women Voters Debates). Krayeske joins Tom Marsh, a candidate for Governor, and John Mertens, a candidate for senate, in a club of candidates that probably do not have a chance to win but will be on the ballot in November.<p>What role can these third party candidates play in these races? Krayeske seems to take a two pronged approach. First suggesting that he wants to build the Green Party. I think that this is a good approach to take because I do not believe people identify with parties as strongly as the people and the personalities behind the party. Without strong leaders and candidates running on the party line and bringing the party message to the people I do not believe a party can flourish. Secondly he looks to make pointed criticisms of the incumbent. Here he can bring to light issues people have but that have not yet been publicly voiced. Here we see that elections are good for holding the incumbent’s feet to the fire and making sure that citizens get the best representation possible.</p><p>Ultimately the thing that surprises me the most is that in spite of the general cynicism that most people seem to have towards politics and the current people in power, third parties have not taken off. Even the big “Tea Party” movement seems to associate itself with the Republican Party instead of forming its own entity. It makes me seriously question whether a third party might ever become viable on a statewide level.</p>

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