Author Archives: Christopher Keating

Bill Clinton Will Speak Tuesday At New Haven Fundraiser

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Chris Murphy, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Joe Visconti, Richard Blumenthal, Tom Foley Date:

Former President Bill Clinton will headline a fundraiser Tuesday in New Haven for the state Democratic Party in an effort to help Gov. Dannel P. Malloy as he seeks reelection this fall.

Clinton’s visit to the Omni Hotel in New Haven at 11:30 a.m. was confirmed by Malloy’s campaign and announced by the Democratic Party. The Omni, which employs union workers, is a favorite gathering spot among Democrats.

Since Malloy is participating in public financing in the governor’s race, Clinton will be raising money for the Democratic Party instead of directly for the campaign’s account. Tickets cost $50 per person.

Members of the Connecticut Congressional delegation are expected to attend the fundraiser, and the invitation features U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Christopher Murphy. Blumenthal is a longtime friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton as they are all graduates of Yale Law School in New Haven. Continue reading

Malloy, Foley Square Off in First Debate

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Gun control, New Haven, Republicans, taxes, Tom Foley Date:

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Republican business executive Tom Foley squared off Wednesday night in their first debate in 2014 with some lively exchanges.

The first question by moderator Ray Hackett involved whether the candidates believe the other was untruthful or unethical.

“The governor is the single most important person having an impact on people’s lives in Connecticut,” Foley responded. “I’ve talked about Malloy Math” on statistics offered by Malloy.

The numbers cited by Malloy on various occasions show “a lack of truthfulness that discredits a leader,” Foley said.

“I don’t recall the governor saying I didn’t tell the truth,” Foley said.

Malloy responded that there were only three people on the stage, and “only one of us has violated the law in Connecticut related to elections.”

“I don’t think you told the truth about Bibb,” Malloy said to Foley regarding the now well-known company that Foley operated and that has been the subject of numerous television commercials.

On the second question on crime, Malloy cited statewide statistics.

“Crime is down – 45-year low,” Malloy said. “I’m proud of that. I’m proud of making cities safer. … It’s not a matter of convenience or inconvenience. It’s a matter of public safety.”

But Foley countered, “In fact, I don’t think we are safer based on the bill that he passed.” He was referring to Malloy’s signature on a gun-control bill that was passed in 2013.

After Foley said that they had talked about guns, Malloy responded, “Tom and I haven’t had a conversation about this issue, ever” on guns.

“To say I’m not telling the truth is ridiculous,” Foley responded, saying that he essentially talks to Malloy through the press and does not have to speak face to face to get his points across on specific issues.

“If a repeal comes to me, I will never sign a repeal,” Malloy said of the gun-control law, adding that it has “led to lower crime.”

“First of all, governor, this is where you’re twisting the truth again,” Foley said, referring to what Foley had said about a potential repeal of the gun-control bill. “You’re twisting the truth again.”

“You should tell us about all of the litmus tests that you would have,” Malloy said. “That answer that you just gave? That was a career politician answer you gave.”

Concerning crime, Foley said, “Violent crime rates have gone down all over the country. … For the governor to go around saying that crime is low insults those communities” in the state’s largest cities.

“The governor says everything is fine with crime. I don’t agree,” Foley said, adding that three Connecticut cities rank in the top six nationally for the most crime.

“I don’t say everything is fine with crime,” Malloy responded. “It’s never dropping fast enough.” Continue reading

Breaking: Foley Unveils His Plan For CT On Economy, Taxes, Jobs, Schools, Ethics

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Joe Visconti, Tom Foley Date:

Just hours before the first gubernatorial debate, Republican Tom Foley unveiled his plans for Connecticut on Wednesday – with a focus on improving the economy, creating jobs, fixing low-performing public schools, controlling state spending, lowering taxes, and improving ethics at the state Capitol.

Foley has been criticized consistently by Democrats for being vague on various issues, but he released a 10-page plan Wednesday.

Foley and incumbent Gov. Dannel P. Malloy are locked in a dead heat in the fall election, according to various polls, in a rematch of their 2010 contest that was the closest gubernatorial election in Connecticut in more than 50 years.

A longtime business executive, Foley focused on jobs near the beginning of his five-point plan.

“Connecticut’s unemployment rate remains unacceptably high at 6.6 percent, significantly higher than the national average,” he wrote. “The nation has recovered 105 percent of non-farm jobs lost during the recession, but Connecticut has only recovered 64 percent of non-farm jobs – one of the worst job recovery rates in the nation. Connecticut’s economy has grown only 3 percent since the depths of the recession – the lowest growth rate in New England – while our next door neighbor Massachusetts has grown 11 percent.”

Later, those points came up again Wednesday night during the debate between Foley and Malloy on a wide variety of subjects. Foley said that Connecticut’s economy has grown by only 1 percent overall since Malloy became governor – not 1 percent per year.

“Governor, this is not working,” Foley said while seated on the stage at Norwich Free Academy. “Massachusetts, our neighbor, has had growth of 11 percent since the bottom of the recession. … You are hurting the citizens of our state with your policies.’’

“The reality is we’ve created 60,000 private sector jobs since Nancy [Wyman] and I took over,” Malloy responded. “I understand that what you have to do is make everybody feel as bad as they can.”

Under his plan, Foley said that the five points “that matter most” are restoring the economy, gaining control over the cost of state government, reforming the tax code, improving the schools, and “changing the way business is done’’ in Hartford.

But Mark Bergman, a spokesman for Malloy’s campaign, said he would not use the word “plan’’ for the concepts that Foley released Wednesday.

“The fact is this is nine pages of talking points he has used for the last year slapped together and called a ‘plan’ without a single, specific spending cut to pay for any of what he promised. Not one,’’ Bergman said. “We have seen this game plan before 20 years ago with John Rowland, and Connecticut has seen how that worked out. Tom Foley would take Connecticut’s progress over the last four years and shift it directly into reverse.’’ Continue reading

CT-N Will Broadcast Malloy-Foley Debate Live From Norwich

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Joe Visconti, Tom Foley Date:

In a last-minute change of plans, the CT-N public affairs network says it will broadcast the first gubernatorial debate live tonight.

On its website, CT-N says its plan is to broadcast the debate at 7 p.m. from Norwich Free Academy.

The debate is a one-on-one matchup between incumbent Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Republican business executive Tom Foley of Greenwich. Conservative Republican Joseph Visconti has qualified for the ballot, but he will not be participating in the debate as the participants were decided in advance by The Norwich Bulletin before Visconti qualified.

Pelto Surprised How Hard It Was To Collect Signatures For Ballot

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Joe Visconti, Jonathan Pelto Date:

Liberal Democrat Jonathan Pelto is surprised how hard it was to collect enough signatures to get on the ballot for governor.

In a recent interview, Pelto said he feared that he had not gathered a sufficient number of verified signatures and added that he had collected at least 900 signatures from citizens who were disqualified because they are not registered to vote.

“This whole experience has been an eye-opener, and it’s definitely rigged to make it as difficult as possible,” Pelto told Capitol Watch.

He says his effort was hurt during the summer season as students, professors and administrators were all away from the University of Connecticut and other college campuses. The signatures needed to be collected by August 6 – meaning that June, July and early August were the prime time for finding registered voters willing to sign the petition.

“I probably could have done it if it was schools and colleges, but they were all on break,” Pelto said.

The Secretary of the State’s office is still counting the signatures, and a final decision might not be made until Friday on whether Pelto can appear on the ballot against Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Republican Tom Foley and petitioning candidate Joseph Visconti.

Continue reading

Transportation Spending By Governors O’Neill, Rell, Malloy

by Categorized: 2014 Election, General Assembly, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Tom Foley Date:

WETHERSFIELD – For the past three decades, Connecticut governors have touted the amount of money they have spent on transportation.

After the Mianus River Bridge collapsed and killed three motorists on Interstate 95 in Cos Cob in 1983, Gov. William A. O’Neill and the legislature passed the largest transportation spending package in state history as officials scrambled to ensure that the roads and bridges were safe. O’Neill’s $1 billion program would be the equivalent today – more than three decades later – of more than $6 billion, according to state officials.

More than two decades later, Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell unveiled a seven-year plan that she called the largest transportation package in more than 20 years with the purchase of 342 new state-of-the-art Metro-North Commuter Railroad cars and a $300 million repair facility in New Haven. The $1.3 billion package was later approved by the legislature.

Not to be outdone, then-House Speaker James Amann announced a 10-year, $6.2 billion plan in February 2006 that was even bigger than Rell’s, saying that would be the largest in state history. He did not announce any funding details at the time, and the full plan was not approved.

On Monday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy traveled to Wethersfield, near the Rocky Hill border, to tout transportation spending during his administration.

“We’re spending more general fund money and more state bonded money on transportation than any other administration,” Malloy told reporters and state DOT officials near the Old Main Street Bridge over the Goff Brook. “You can slice this and dice this on an accounting basis – which funds go where – but when everything is said and done, we’re spending more than any other administration. And we’ve spent more than any of those transfers [from the Special Transportation Fund] would otherwise indicate if there are transfers back and forth for accounting purposes. But on a net basis and on a gross basis, we’re spending more money of ours, of state money, that we raised.” Continue reading

Pelto Fears He Will Not Reach 7,500 Signatures To Get On Ballot

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Jonathan Pelto Date:

In a potential political boost for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, liberal Democrat Jonathan Pelto told The Hartford Courant on Saturday that he fears he will not reach the necessary threshold to qualify for the gubernatorial ballot in November.

Pelto has threatened to go to court to gain a place on the gubernatorial ballot against Malloy, Republican Tom Foley, and petitioning candidate Joseph Visconti, but Pelto said in an interview that a potential court fight on disputed signatures might be fruitless if he is not close enough to the threshold.

“It’s not looking good,” Pelto said Saturday. “I am increasingly concerned the situation is starting to look grim. It is clear that we submitted far fewer petitions than I had expected. … I may be wrong. But for the first time, I think we may fall short.”

Pelto needs 7,500 verified signatures of registered voters, but he said the verification process so far has shown that he and his supporters collected about 900 signatures of citizens who were not registered to vote. He said he was surprised that so many people would sign a petition without being registered voters.

Despite his concerns, Pelto noted that the Secretary of the State – Connecticut’s chief elections official – will continue counting the signatures in the coming days.

“I don’t want to declare that it’s done,” Pelto said. “I don’t want to jump the gun. But I am increasingly pessimistic that we did not collect a sufficient number of signatures. It’s up to the Secretary of the State’s office. I’m not throwing in the towel.”

Av Harris, the chief spokesman for Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, was not available for comment Saturday.

Pelto congratulated Visconti, saying that the former West Hartford town council member had made “brilliant” moves by collecting signatures outside a gun shop and also traveling to towns that had a budget referendum to collect signatures from registered voters as they left the polling places. Those voters were guaranteed to be registered because they had just been verified inside the polling place.

“The real problem is we didn’t get enough signatures to have the buffer,” Pelto said. “I had planned about 10 percent [being rejected as] being nonvoters, but I think it was 20 percent. It becomes a moot point if you don’t come close enough.”

Rather than standing outside polling places, Pelto and his supporters collected signatures at farmers’ markets and concerts on the green – where some of the signers were not registered to vote.

If Pelto fails to gain a spot on the ballot, it will be a major political boost for Malloy. Many political insiders believe that Pelto would have pulled Democratic votes away from Malloy, including public school teachers and some state employees. Pelto had been compared to nationally known consumer advocate Ralph Nader, who was blamed by some Democrats for pulling votes away from then-Vice President Al Gore and throwing the 2000 presidential election to Republican George W. Bush. But Nader rejected that reasoning and he recently signed Pelto’s petition when the two saw each other at the Mark Twain House in Hartford.

“I’m sure there will be lots of cheering in the Malloy camp and with union leaders because, conservatively, I think I would have been taking 50,000 to 100,000 votes,” Pelto said. “To some extent, it will hurt Foley with Visconti on the ballot – a couple of percentage points, for sure.”

Pelto, a former state legislator and longtime Democratic political strategist, said he believes that “while my name recognition was only 5 percent, my vote was closer to 10 percent.”

Besides collecting signatures of nonvoters, Pelto said there were about 200 signatures “that were inappropriately or illegally rejected” by town officials across the state. Those included people who failed to provide their date of birth on the form, which is not required by law. Still, some confused local officials rejected signatures without birthdates.

One of those who did not provide her date of birth on the form was Nader’s older sister, Claire, but Pelto said her signature was accepted by local officials.

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Guns Cut Both Ways in Governor Primary

by Categorized: 2014 Election Date:

SIMSBURY – One of the most emotional issues of the primary season – gun control – was a factor Tuesday in the voters’ decisions at the polls.

Greenwich business executive Tom Foley and Senate minority leader John McKinney of Fairfield – the two Republican candidates for governor – have far different views on the state’s response to the 28 shooting deaths in the Sandy Hook section of Newtown in December 2012. Foley says the state needs to focus more on mental health because the actions that day of shooter Adam Lanza were caused by problems with mental health.

McKinney, by contrast, voted in favor of the gun control bill that was passed by the Democratic-controlled legislature and signed into law by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

On primary day, the gun issue cut both ways.

In Simsbury, retired florist Robert R. Duguay, Jr. said that he voted for McKinney because of his stance on guns that differs sharply from both Foley and the three Republican candidates for lieutenant governor.

“McKinney is the only one for gun control,’’ Duguay told Capitol Watch in an interview. “They say the real problem is mental illness, and they’re going to solve it. It’s a bottomless pit. Our national party has sold their soul to the NRA.’’

As Duguay was speaking in the parking lot outside the Latimer Lane School in Simsbury’s Weatogue section, the sounds of gunfire could clearly be heard on a quiet day from the state police gun range across the Farmington River on Nod Road.

“A little bit ironic,’’ Duguay said as multiple shots could be heard.

A reporter then took a drive to the state police range, where none of the troopers nor their supervisor would comment about gun control or the primary election.

“We want to keep our jobs,’’ said one trooper. Continue reading

Former State GOP Chairman Predicts 15 to 17 Percent Turnout In Primary

by Categorized: 2014 Election Date:

Former state Republican chairman Richard Foley is predicting a voter turnout Tuesday of 15 percent to 17 percent.

Foley, who has not endorsed any candidate in the Republican race for governor, studies the numbers very carefully and believes that about 65,000 Republicans might vote Tuesday. He made his prediction before the polls opened in a prognostication that was far lower than others had estimated.

There are no Republican primaries for Congress or state Senate this year – with fewer candidates working hard to get their voters to the polls. That compares to the 2010 primary that featured the biggest Republican advertiser in Connecticut history – Linda McMahon – and her constant television commercials and direct-mail leaflets that kept the primary in voters’ minds. As such, the turnout that year was 30 percent.

This year, it is totally different with very few contests and no one spending anywhere near as much money as McMahon.

“You have nothing driving the vote,” Dick Foley told Capitol Watch. “In 2010, you had the probate districts combined and a significant number of primaries there. It’s the local office that people care about.’’

Greenwich business executive Tom Foley said he expected fewer than 100,000 of the state’s 400,000 registered Republicans to vote on a warm summer day in mid-August – representing a turnout of less than 25 percent.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said that the turnout in primaries is usually 25 percent to 30 percent at the high end, but she feared the numbers would be lower. The all-time high was 43 percent in the hotly contested August 2006 race between U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman and Greenwich challenger Ned Lamont.

The polls will be open statewide until 8 p.m. tonight, and turnout was low on Tuesday morning in Greenwich, West Hartford, and Glastonbury, among others.

The size of the ballot will vary from town to town, depending on whether there are primaries for the state Senate, House of Representatives, registrar of voters or probate judge. Continue reading

Ralph Nader To Speak At Mark Twain House on Thursday

by Categorized: 2014 Election Date:

Longtime consumer activist Ralph Nader, who ran unsuccessfully for president several times, is scheduled to speak Thursday night at the Mark Twain House in Hartford.

Nader has been blamed by some Democrats for peeling off votes from then-Vice President Al Gore and throwing the 2000 presidential election to Republican George W. Bush. But Nader and others have rejected that notion, saying that Gore lost his home state of Tennessee and that Nader’s votes could not be directly attributed to his defeat.

In his home state of Connecticut, Nader recently signed the petition of Jonathan Pelto, a fellow liberal Democrat who is attempting to challenge incumbent Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in the November election. Both Pelto and conservative Republican Joseph Visconti of West Hartford have collected more than 7,500 signatures to gain a spot on the ballot as independents, but those signatures might not be verified for 10 days or more.

Nader will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday and discuss his new book, “Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.” A prolific writer, Nader talks in the book about some of his favorite topics, including corporate welfare, civil liberties, and wars. Continue reading