Archive for January, 2011

My Road Rage Incident in Wethersfield
January 31, 2011

I guess I wasn’t driving fast enough for this woman my mom’s age.   Relax!  Look carefully at her hand.

Hartford Whalers Gear Arrives at Bradley Airport
January 28, 2011

I was pleased to see the fascination with the Hartford Whalers continuing to grow.  First Megan Fox tand Adam Sandler started wearing Whalers merchandise, now it is finally for sale at Bradley Airport.   Folks are always looking for souvenirs and this is a great addition to the limited offerings there.   

Now, if they can only change the sign welcoming visitors from “Welcome to New England” to “Welcome to Connecticut.”  How about “Welcome to Connecticut, Gateway to New England?”

Bysiewicz and Murphy Strike Cordial Tone as Senate Campaign Begins
January 27, 2011

Susan Bysiewicz with Face the State producer Malinda Govoni  

The election is 21 months but already campaign 2012 is underway in the race for Connecticut’s U.S. Senate.  Our guests for this Sunday’s edition of Face the State are the two declared candidates for the Democrats: former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz and Congressman Chris Murphy.   Those hoping for a first debate will be disappointed.    The two appeared separately with Bysiewicz on the program first by virtue of the fact her campaign is a few days older the Murphy campaign.

The questions for the two were different, because their issues and backgrounds are different.    Both spoke highly of the other, calling each other “friends.”     Both seem to agree the field of candidates will grow beyond the two of them.

For Bysiewicz we talked about the tough year she had in 2010, specifically regarding the state elections enforcement issue, and whether her setbacks and problems from last year will impact her candidacy now.   We crammed as much as we could into the 11 minute segment.  Ditto for Murphy.

These are experienced politicians and both are adept at getting their talking points across regardless of the question.

I asked both if there was a senator they emulated or see as a role model.  Murphy doesn’t have one, and Bysiewicz quickly named Barbara Mikulski of Maryland. 

Murphy was also complimentary of the man he hopes to succeed, Senator Joe Lieberman.    He listed a few of Lieberman’s contributions to Connecticut and said the senator’s stance on the war in Iraq and health care should not “blot out his record.”

I also asked him how his “Buy American” campaign would go over with supporters who drive a Toyota Prius, which rolls off an assembly line in Japan. 

You can the entire interviews with Bysiewicz and Murphy this Sunday at 11AM.     

If you think this campaign is starting early, you’re right.   Also on Face this weekend, we dig into the Channel 3 archives to hear from Senator Chris Dodd back in January 1998, when he said 9 months before the election was too early to start campaigning against his challenger Gary Franks.

Separated at Birth?
January 27, 2011

A few of us veterans here Channel 3 can’t get over the resemblance between our  reporter Matt (Pride of Derby) McFarland and former Channel 3 sportscaster Joe Tessitore, now with ESPN.   Don’t let the Irish surname fool you, Matt is Italian like Denise, Al, me and of course, Joe.     I guess it is possible they could be related…

Snowstorm Named After Actor Denis Leary
January 26, 2011

The Denis Leary story has moved here:

Courtney Leaning Toward Running for the Senate?
January 26, 2011

In a brief interview with Eyewitness News today, Congressman Joe Courtney talked about a potential candidacy for the U.S. Senate.     WFSB Assignment Manager Dave Ward spoke to the 2nd District Congressman in Washington via satellite as Courtney was preparing to attend President Obama’s state of the union address.

Courtney talked about his accomplishments during his two terms in Congress, and said he wouldn’t be coy or wait too long to announce his decision on whether to seek the seat currently held by Senator Joe Lieberman.   Dave Ward’s take?   He thinks Courtney might be ready to take the plunge.

Some believe Courtney wouldn’t challenge his fellow delegation member Congressman Chris Murphy, but we are told other Democrats are urging Courtney to run, arguing the more moderate Courtney would be a stronger candidate in the general election than his colleague.      Courtney is also coming off an impressive re-election, taking 60% of the vote in November.     A booster of Courtney told me that performance alone shows Courtney deserves the opportunity to run and shouldn’t be pressured to sit on the sidelines.

Courtney also realizes if he doesn’t try for the senate now, he may never get the chance.    A poster on the blog who supports Murphy, says if elected,  Murphy could be in the senate for 30 to 40 years.

My take?  The more the merrier.  With the election 21 months away the voters will be better served by a wide array of candidates now.   If a few months from now Courtney or Murphy learn his campaign isn’t  taking off, there will still be plenty of time to run for re-election for their congressional seat.

Massachusetts Might Be Better Fit for a Senator Olbermann
January 24, 2011

It seems odd that someone, in this case a blogger at the Daily Kos,  would suggest former MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann as a candidate for the senate here in Connecticut.   As just about everybody here knows, Olbermann loathes this state, and his disparaging remarks about the Constitution State would come back to haunt him in a campaign.  

Olbermann lived in Southington when he worked for ESPN back in the 1990s.  He left in 1997, the same year the state he criticized lost its NHL team, the Hartford Whalers.  

Various negative  comments about Bristol and the state have been attributed to Olbermann over the years.   Due to a health condition he doesn’t drive, and anybody who lives in Connecticut knows this is a car state, which probably let to his unhappiness during his time here.  Olbermann also complained about the lack of a cosmopolitan area here, at least compared to New York City. 

There are 33 states with senate races in 2012, perhaps Olbermann should jump into politics somewhere else than Connecticut.  Massachusetts, perhaps?     My guess is, he’d be happier in Boston than Bristol. 

I think the Hartford Courant’s Rick Green put it best:

Would Nostalgia for JFK Help Ted Kennedy, Jr.?
January 24, 2011

President John Kennedy with his children, nieces and nephews in 1963.   Ted Kennedy, Jr. is standing far left in the front row.

My post last week about the potential senate candidacy of Ted Kennedy, Jr. was one of my most read entries in a while, and I received plenty of comments and e-mails about it.   The link to that report is below.  If Kennedy runs, the campaign would coincide with copious 50th anniversary commemorations of his uncle’s presidency.    The Branford Democrat would be the first Kennedy to appear on a Connecticut ballot since 1960. 

One viewer asked me how many people even remember the days of President Kennedy,  arguing most people know about the Kennedy administration solely through history books.  

According to the Secretary of the State’s office,  the state currently has 288,690 registered voters who were old enough to have voted for John Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election.   For that matter, old enough to have voted for Richard Nixon.   Kennedy won Connecticut with 53.7% of the vote to Nixon’s 46.3%. 

Many more voters certainly can remember President Kennedy, even though they weren’t old enough to have voted for him.    Denise D’Ascenzo was a child when Kennedy was assassinated yet vividly remembers that horrible day and other moments of his presidency.   

At last check there were roughly 2,000,000 registered voters in Connecticut.   The 288,690 Kennedy/Nixon  figure will of course be smaller by November 2012 as some voters die off between now and then.   

Still. a decent chunk of the electorate voting next year will be able to remember the Kennedy era, but it is anyone’s guess how many remember it fondly, and whether its association with Ted Kennedy, Jr. would sway them in their decision making process as they choose a senator. 

On the eve of the 1960 election, John Kennedy came to downtown Hartford for a last minute campaign stop at the Hartford Times Building.  If Ted Kennedy, Jr. decides to run for the senate, I’m sure one of his advisors will be suggesting that historic building as the place to kick off the campaign. 

Why Kennedy Might Run, and Why He Might Not:

The Debate over Sunday Liquor Store Openings
January 21, 2011

A law that has been in effect since the 1700s might be repealed in 2011.  Governor Dannel Malloy has said if the legislature approves it, he will lift the ban on Sunday liquor store openings.

This Sunday at 11AM on Face the State, we present both sides of the issue.   Carroll Hughes is here representing the Connecticut Package Stores Association.  He wants the ban to continue.   On the other side is State Representative Kathy Tallarita, Democrat of Enfield.  She wants the ban lifted.

Why Ted Kennedy Jr. Might Run, and Why He Might Not
January 21, 2011

The election of 2012 is 21 months away and already two candidates have thrown their hats into the ring for the race for the senate seat currently held by retiring Senator Joe Lieberman, but Democrats Susan Bysiewicz and Chris Murphy won’t be alone for much longer.   At least three other Democrats are on the list of potential candidates, and the Republican list is even longer.

The internal polling released by the Bysiewicz campaign on Tuesday thrust a well known name into the senate speculation:  Ted Kennedy, Jr.     Her polls show her beating Kennedy in a primary, and show him tying Murphy. 

 The son of the late Massachusetts senator has not expressed, at least publicly anyway, any interest in the race to succeed Connecticut’s senior senator.     There has always been talk that Kennedy might enter the family business, and the chatter  picked up after his eloquent eulogy at his father’s funeral in August 2009.    Since then, several Democrats have heaped praise on Kennedy as a potential candidate.

Kennedy, who lives in Branford and runs a financial services group in New York,  has routinely waved off suggestions that he seek office, but has given supporters a nugget of hope.   He has indicated he has thought of running for office “in the future” suggesting it could happen when his children are older. 

Why Kennedy Might Run

In 2012, Kennedy’s daughter will be college age and his son, ready for high school.     The timing may not be ideal, but the way political cycles work, if Kennedy really wants to be a senator, 2012 could be the optimum year. 

Kennedy will  turn 51 in ’12.    If he chooses not to run, the next opportunity to run would be 2018,  that is only if Republicans win the seat next year.  If the Democrats win, the Kennedy senate ship may have sailed.   Another opportunity would be for Blumenthal’s seat…down the road.  Blumenthal will most assuredly seek re-election in 2016.  It is possible Blumenthal wouldn’t run for a 3rd term in 2022, when he will be on the verge of turning 77, but that’s 11 years Kennedy would have to wait. 

It is also possible Kennedy could run for Congress down the road, but Rosa DeLauro shows no signs of slowing down.   Running for a governor is also a future possibility, but Democratic options there seem to taken for 2014. 

If Kennedy were to run for the senate, he would benefit from President Obama’s re-election campaign that would make it favorable for any Democrat in this blue state.    Voter turnout will swell in heavily Democratic areas like all-important Bridgeport.     Kennedy could also be the beneficiary of some early endorsements by key Democrats, including long time friends Ned Lamont and former Senator Chris Dodd.     Kennedy made history last year by recording his first television commercial for a candidate, when he hit the airwaves for Lamont during the latter’s campaign for governor.

There is also the Kennedy family mystique.   For the next few years there will be a steady stream of 50th anniversary reports and specials on the administration of Ted Jr.’s uncle, John F. Kennedy.    Older voters will be reminded of a time of great promise, and younger voters will be continually educated about the Camelot era without the candidate ever having to say a word about it.   The television networks, newspapers and websites will take care of that.    The big bonus?  An October gift.  The media’s JFK anniversary celebration will reach a crescendo in October of 2012, when there plenty of retrospectives of President Kennedy’s finest hour:  the Cuban Missile Crisis.   This will come right in the final throes of the senate campaign and would bring Ted Kennedy, Jr.,  favorable publicity that money cannot buy. 

All of this nostalgia might inspire Kennedy to run.   For the first time since the 1940s, there is no Kennedy elected to serve in Washington.   

According to WFSB Democratic political analyst Duby McDowell ,  “Kennedy would instantly be a front runner in the race, not just for  his name and pedigree; but because he and his wife Kiki have earned a lot of good will in this state for work they have done for candidates and causes.   Also, if Linda McMahon is the Republican candidate, we will need a candidate who has the ability raise big money and Kennedy could do that.”   

Kennedy could easily tap into a vast fundraising network, and the political connections of his father and Senator Dodd.  It would also bring national attention to the race which would bring in more dollars.    A Kennedy candidacy would bring Chris Matthews that “thrill up his leg” he hasn’t felt since 2008. 

Why Kennedy Might Not Run

The primary  reason for not running would be family concerns.   Kennedy enjoys a private life out of the media glare and by all accounts is a hands-on family man.   That would change in an instant with the rigors of a campaign,  intense scrutiny of every aspect of his life, and travel for fundraising.  If elected, it means a move to Washington and as Senator Dodd told me “constant fundraising.” 

There is also no guarantee Kennedy would cruise to the nomination.  Duby stresses that Kennedy’s entry into the race doesn’t necessarily mean he would clear the field.    “Bysiewicz and Murphy are experienced campaigners who know that there is always room for error with a first-time candidate.”     When asked about Kennedy’s chances in a senate race, former state party chairman Ed Marcus told me “it is difficult for a newcomer  to start at the top.”  Popular 2nd district Congressman Joe Courtney is also considering jumping in the race, as is former state treasurer Frank Borges.

The general election would also be the difficult.  Gone are the days when the state GOP fielded a weak candidate.  The bench for 2012 includes 2010 nominee McMahon, 2010 gubernatorial nominee Tom Foley, former congressman Rob Simmons, former U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Connor,  and former Lt. Governor Michael Fedele.   McMahon grabbed 44% of the vote against the state’s most popular Democrat.  If she comes back next year, it will no doubt be armed with new tools to broaden her appeal. 

There is also the possibility voters could sour on Democrats next year.    Governor Dannel Malloy and the Democratic controlled state legislature will have to make tough cuts and possibly raise taxes.    The party could take the hit as voters digest what by all accounts will be painful changes.   Malloy won’t be on the ballot in ’12, but angry voters could take it out on others with a “D” next to their name.

WFSB Republican analyst Brian Flaherty thinks Kennedy, while an impressive candidate,  is certainly beatable.  “The Kennedy name has an appeal in any state.   Ted Kennedy, Jr. and his wife have long made Connecticut their home, and they have long worked to make it a better place.  His entry in the race would certainly be a major development, but since Murphy and Bysiewicz don’t seem willing to give way,  I don’t believe he’d prompt any Republicans to change their mind.    

Finally, as several members of the Kennedy family have said many times, you don’t have to be elected to serve.  Kennedy is well known for his work with people with disabilities.

We’ll discuss the 2012 senate race this Sunday morning at 11AM on Face the State with Dennis House.   My guests:  Neil Vigdor of the Greenwich Time, and Don Michak of the Journal Inquirer.


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