News reports from the Connecticut political scene this past week were full of denunciations from Republican party leaders toward a Republican member of the state House of Representatives who switched parties two weeks after winning reelection.
The newly converted Democrat, Rep. Diana Urban of North Stonington, represents the district that previously was represented by former Republican US Congressman Rob Simmons when he was a state representative. Simmons lost his Congressional seat in the recent election by such a narrow margin that party chicanery has to be considered as much a culprit as the efforts by his Democratic opponent.
Urban's switch widened the state House Democrats' lead over Republicans to 107-44, which when combined with the state Senate Dems also exceeding the two-thirds margin needed to override vetoes from the Governor's office, relegates Gov. Jodi Rell to figurehead status, while ensuring that anything the Dems want, they get.
What was especially stunning, and outright hypocritical of the GOP leadership, was the argument that Urban accepted campaign money from the Republican party, but knew all along that she was going to switch. That her decision to switch was made long before the election may or may not have been the case. News reports focused on her close friendships with leading Democrats and voting patterns that were closer to the Dems' than her own party.
But the key factor is the money issue. All across Connecticut, throughout the campaign, viable candidates for the state House and Senate were pleading for financial help from party central in Hartford. But the reaction from party leaders ranged from ignoring the candidates, to cold shoulders, to in the case of the 19th Senate District, outright sabotage.
Pleas for financial help were rebuffed, with the explanation that there simply were no funds available. Yet the party found money to help Urban, who was considered a shoo-in.
BECAUSE SHE RAN UNOPPOSED!
How do you, as a party leader, justify leaving viable candidates withering on the vine with no means to distribute their message and positions, while simultaneously giving precious funding to a questionable candidate who has no opposition?
The answer may well be as simple as it appears - that the GOP leadership in Hartford is so out of touch with the electorate and reality that they think we all are too stupid to see what they are up to. Apparently, outside the grounds of the Capitol we aren't smart enough to see that only certain candidates get help, and if someone who doesn't fit their secret criteria comes along with a campaign plan that just might upset their apple cart, the party insiders go out of their way to ensure that the upstarts don't get elected.
Party wise guys make the claim that they are experts at predicting the outcome of state elections. I don't believe they make accurate predictions. I believe they work behind the scenes to make sure their little piece of turf stays intact no matter who is in power.
This is a self-fulfilling prophecy, not a prediction.
There also is the possibility that the party has been infiltrated over the last decade or so by RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) or for that matter, Democratic insurgents, who have succeeded in usurping real Republicans and are deliberately destroying the party from within.
I use the decade time measurement because until the mid-1990s the GOP had a majority in Hartford, and even when the Dems had good years the Republicans were still in the game, which has not been the case since before the turn of the century.
We also may consider that the system is so corrupt that Democrats and Republicans have been cooperating to maintain the status quo, meaning that some players will always get elected, while outsiders will either get no help or will be sabotaged.
If you think this scenario is too far fetched, consider that nearly a year ago the Connecticut Law Journal reported that Rell was raking in huge donations from liberal Democrats in the monied western section of the state. This as she eschewed donations from PACs and lobbyists, and called on other Republican candidates to do the same.
The Connecticut media ignored the revelation about Rell's new-found friends, and focused instead on what appeared to be a major gaff from Rell's chief of staff who distributed invitations to a Rell fund-raiser to her department heads on state time in state offices.
Rell gave back the $50,000 or so that she received from that event, but at the same time was more than making up for it at other, more private events that received scant media attention. How can you take money from your opponent's party to ensure your election, and at the same time bad-mouth someone else who did essentially the same thing by a different route?
Although the Democrats' campaign for governor was spirited at times, Rell was always at least twenty-five percentage points ahead of her challenger, New Haven mayor John DeStefano, whose sphere of influence didn't extend past the boundaries of Yale University, and was never able to overcome the name recognition issue.
Nonetheless, even candidates on Rell's underticket were complaining that they were ignored during the campaign, and not one of them was elected.
But Rell was, even though she will have no real job for the next two years at least, other than to cut ribbons and attend groundbreakings. Maybe she can watch videos of Queen Elizabeth waving at crowds from inside her royal carriage. Then at least she'll have the benign monarchy thing down.
All in all, the positions taken by the GOP leadership in the past week add up to hypocrisy. The GOP has been slipping in party enrollment for years, but the Dems aren't the majority player. Independents own that status, meaning most voters aren't enamored with the Dems' penchant for taxing everything and unchecked bureaucracies, they just don't trust the GOP to represent them anymore.
So the posturing for the media can run its course, but nothing is really going to change. And out where true Republicans live, the party faithful who at their core believe in limited government and taxation only to the level necessary to maintain limited government, have to be wondering at what point do they stop working inside the system and start planning on revolution?
Saturday, November 25, 2006