How and when people should be allowed to vote has become a highly partisan issue around the United States in recent years, and Connecticut’s turn is now arriving smack in the middle of a heated political campaign season.
Democratic and Republican state lawmakers squared off Wednesday at a legislative meeting over the seemingly innocuous issue of how to explain to voters a proposed state constitutional amendment that’s on the ballot this November.
Photo courtesy of Connecticut State Government.
The real debate wasn’t about the wording, but about the proposed amendment that would remove current restrictions on the General Assembly’s ability to allow things like early voting or “no excuse” absentee ballots. Republicans insist the change could lead to more voter fraud, but Democrats say all they want to do is to make it easier for people to vote.
Connecticut’s constitution doesn’t allow early voting systems like those now used in 33 other states, such as opening the polls on the Saturday before an election. At least 27 states permit registered voters to use “no excuse” absentee ballots – but Connecticut will only allow an absentee ballot if someone is too sick or is out of state at the time of that Election Day.
The Hartford Courant has endorsed for U.S. Comptroller General David Walker of Bridgeport in the Republican primary for lieutenant governor.
The editorial states, “If you harbor the suspicion that state government could run more efficiently and less expensively, you might want to call in a no-nonsense accountant with a green eyeshade to poke around the bureaucratic labyrinth. Someone like David Walker.
“Mr. Walker is one of three candidates, along with former Groton Mayor Heather Bond Somers and state Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, vying for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in the Aug. 12 primary. We believe Mr. Walker’s credentials best match the state’s needs, and endorse him in the primary.”
The newspaper also endorsed Walker’s running mate, Senate minority leader John McKinney of Fairfield, for governor in the primary against Greenwich business executive Tom Foley. Continue reading
If anyone needed any more evidence about how cautious you have to be of political polling these days, all they have to do is look at the results of two very different opinion surveys released in the last few days.
On Tuesday, a new-style, online type of poll on Connecticut’s gubernatorial race came out with the somewhat startling results that Republican Tom Foley was leading Democratic incumbent Dannel Malloy by nine percentage points. One reason it got so much play – despite all the questions about how it was done – was because it was commissioned by the New York Times and CBS.
Democrat Dannel Malloy
On Thursday, a slightly more traditional opinion survey was released, this time by a GOP-leaning group called Vox Populi Polling. It found Malloy was ahead of Foley by a single percentage point. A third-party candidate, Jonathan Pelto, came in with three percent support among those polled. With the margin of error involved, the only conclusion you could have is that the race is too close to call.
Republican Tom Foley
So, which one are we supposed to believe? The NYT-CBS sponsored survey that used rather questionable online methods? Or the Vox Populi Polling results that also involved some methods (such as automated “robo-calls” to presumed voters) that traditional pollsters question?
Maybe the answer is to be very wary of both.
Gov. Dannel Malloy is constantly getting hammered by Republicans for being one of those free-spending Democrats who try to bolster their reelection chances by handing out all kinds of taxpayer dollars for local projects.
Of course, there can be exceptions. Take, for example, the cool $1.5 million state grant that just happens to be going to a public golf course in the district of state House GOP Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr.
House Republican Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr.
The money for improvements to the Oak Hills Park golf course in Cafero’s home base of Norwalk is expected to be approved next week by the state Bond Commission. Malloy, who is facing a tough fight to win reelection to a second term this year, is chairman of the bond panel and decides what projects get to be voted on by that august body.
Cafero, like Republican gubernatorial candidates Tom Foley and John McKinney, has often blasted Malloy for his free-spending ways. On the other hand, Cafero has essentially given up his own ambitions to sit in the governor’s chair and is retiring from the legislature after this year.
This time around, Cafero is thanking the Democratic governor and calling the decision on the Oak Hills Park course “welcome news.”
By Matthew Q. Clarida
The gloves came off as John McKinney and Tom Foley, two Republican hopefuls for governor, squared off on the economy, spending, and Common Core in a debate Thursday.
The hourlong forum was held at the Courant’s offices and moderated by the paper’s Christopher P. Keating and Laurie Perez of Fox CT.
McKinney, a state senator from Fairfield and the Republican leader in the senate, was aggressive from the start, attacking Foley for a spending plan McKinney claimed would offer little change from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s. Foley pledged to hold spending flat, while McKinney has consistently proposed cuts.
“We need to be honest with the people of the state of Connecticut: I have the only plan to reduce spending, in real dollars, in the state of Connecticut,” McKinney said.
McKinney stayed on the offensive when asked about his tax plan. Like Foley, he said that he would cut taxes, but he attacked his opponent for a recent advertisement which said that McKinney has voted with Malloy to raise taxes.
“[Foley] is running as an outsider but his commercial is like that of a typical politician, distorting the facts,” McKinney said.
Foley continued his charge that McKinney, who has served in the state Senate since 1999, is part of a dysfunctional insider’s club in Hartford.
“John McKinney has been in the legislature for 15 years. He’s part of the problem,” Foley said.
The race for the Republican nomination for governor is kicking into high gear this weekend.
With about a month to go before the Aug. 12 primary,
Tom Foley and John McKinney plans to attend Sailfest 2014 in New London, which draws tens of thousands of visitors to the coastal city.
McKinney and running mate David Walker will also march in the Enfield Independence Day parade, which steps off at 11 a.m. Saturday and is part of a huge weekend festival. On Sunday, McKinney and Walker will attend another big event: the Puerto Rican parade and festival in Bridgeport.
UPDATE: Tom Foley will also attend the Enfield parade. His campaign had initially said he was attending Sailfest but plans changed this morning and Foley is going to Enfield instead.
Some observers have noted that Foley, who won the endorsement at the Republican party convention in May, is eschewing the rough and tumble of the campaign trail, avoiding most debates and steering clear of other unscripted events.
Foley campaign spokesman Chris Cooper rejects the idea that the candidate is employing a “Rose Garden” strategy.
“It’s a ridiculous assertion,” Cooper said. “He’s been meeting with people for well over a year on a regular basis…he’s attended all of the [Republican town committee] forums and debates leading up to the convention. He’s been going around interviewing people and even recording them. He’s been doing urban outreach events…he was in a workshop with parents about how to improve their schools…he’s been meeting editorial boards.”
Cooper added: “Tom is meeting and talking to people every day and he’s also doing everything it takes to build a campaign organization.”
As far as McKinney’s approach, spokeswoman Jodi Latina said the candidate will be out and about as much as possible.
“Every weekend is important to us and we’re going to be out there as much as we can be..meeting with the people and listening to what their concerns are,” Latina said. “We want them to know that there’s a clear choice on Aug. 12.”
State Republican party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. has officially remained neutral in the GOP gubernatorial race–at least so far–and the party has not spent money in support of any particular candidate.
But social media gives a strong hint as to where the party’s allegiances lie.
The Connecticut Republican Party’s Facebook
page is larded with photos of Tom Foley, who won the endorsement at the party convention in May.
A shot of Foley marching in the Madison Independence Day parade is the cover photo. The party also posted a link to Foley’s new TV ad.
You have to scroll down pretty far to find a photo of John McKinney, Foley’s primary opponent but eventually, you will find a picture of him and other party dignitaries at the Chairman’s Dinner. It was taken on Oct. 12, 2012.
Labriola said the party will coalesce around the winner of the primary. But he also said the GOP, which lags behind the Democrats in terms of both organization and funding, cannot wait until Aug. 13 to gear up for the general election.
“We’re committed to building out our campaign infrastructure and ground game with an eye toward the November general election,” Labriola said.
“We don’t have the luxury of waiting until August to begin this effort,” he added. “The one thing about political campaigns is that the calender shows no mercy. The product of our efforts will benefit whoever our eventual nominees will be.”
The two remaining Republican candidates for governor, Tom Foley and John McKinney, will face off on the same stage tonight for the first time since their primary campaign began.
Foley, the millionaire businessman who narrowly lost the 2010 governor’s race, and Senate Minority Leader McKinney, his primary challenger, will both be at a “Meet the Gubernatorial Candidates Forum” at a hotel in Rocky Hill. The 6:30 p.m. event is being sponsored by the Connecticut chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors.
The forum marks the first round of forums and debates leading up to the Aug. 12 Republican primary. Foley won the GOP State Convention’s endorsement and is heavily favored to confirm his hold on the nomination to meet Democratic incumbent Dannel Malloy in November.
But McKinney managed to collect enough support to launch a primary challenge. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who also qualified for a primary, dropped out of the GOP contest because of funding issues.
Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti insisted Wednesday that he’s still in the Republican race for lieutenant governor despite Mark Boughton’s sudden decision to suspend his campaign for the GOP gubernatorial spot.
“It’s a little disappointing, obviously,” Lauretti said of Danbury Mayor Boughton’s announcement. “I thought he might hang in a little longer.”
Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti.
“He [Boughton] is probably a little worn out right now,” added Lauretti.
Lauretti said Boughton apparently came to the conclusion that Lauretti wouldn’t be able to get enough petition signatures to qualify for the lieutenant governor’s primary. Boughton was depending on Lauretti’s fundraising ability to help both of them qualify for public financing, and failure to get enough certified voter signatures would doom that plan.
The following is by The Hartford Courant’s summer intern, Matthew Q. Clarida :
Westbrook State Senator Art Linares is calling for public hearings on recent tragedies involving children being cared for by the state’s Department of Children and Families. According to state reports, nine children involved with the department died of non-natural causes during the first five months of this year.
“Throwing this process open to sunlight will improve our policies and help us to better protect vulnerable children,” Linares said in a statement. “Our mutual goal is to prevent future tragedies. The more opportunities we have to ask questions, the more opportunities we have to strengthen the system. These hearings are essential.”
In a letter to Capitol colleagues, Linares cited recent deaths to children involved with DCF, as well as a recommendation by the state’s Office of Child Advocate, as impetus for the hearings. Linares wrote that the hearing should be scheduled for a date after the office releases its report on all 2013 child deaths.
“A public hearing, I believe, would allow our panel to learn what is being done proactively to curtail these tragic events and help us to determine a timetable as to when investigations will be completed,” Linares, who is the ranking Senate Republican on the legislature’s Committee on Children. “A public hearing would also allow members of our panel to ask child advocacy officials questions about what their short and long-term needs are.” Continue reading