Republican voters in Connecticut's 2nd Congressional District Tuesday will have a choice of three candidates who want to face incumbent Democrat Congressman Joe Courtney in November.
Of these, Daria Novak, the sole survivor of a year of campaigning that preceded the sudden appearance of her two rivals only weeks before the May convention, has the best chance of making a respectable showing against Courtney. Novak declared early, worked hard, and survived the insider manipulations that many say were intended to destroy her campaign as well as then-frontrunner Matt Daly's.
Daly was ousted at the convention when the combined votes for the two other candidates, newcomers Doug Dubitsky and Janet Peckinpaugh, sapped Daly's support to below the threshold for an automatic primary bid. Ironically, recent financial reports showed that Daly raised more money prior to the convention than all three of the surviving candidates combined have raised in the months since.
Regardless, Daly is out, and neither Dubitsky nor Peckinpaugh has Novak's grasp of the issues facing the district, nor her history of meeting with Republican voters in myriad appearances going back to 2009.
Of the other two, Dubitsky would appear to have a political future if he wants one. At this point Dubitsky is a novice, and has not held office previously. He is an attorney, and owns a farm in Eastern Connecticut. His legal practice specializes in agricultural and equine issues which could be a major asset for him in coming years especially in rural eastern Connecticut.
Dubitsky declared his candidacy only weeks before the May GOP convention and had little time to spread his message or meet the party delegates, much less the rank and file voters. I don't think he has had enough time, especially considering that the primary is being held when many voters are away on summer vacation, to run an adequate campaign, especially to overcome Novak's year-long effort.
In two years Dubitsky could be a force, especially if he stays involved and works with his local party in next year's election.
The remaining candidate, Peckinpaugh, was last in the convention voting, and since then has been last in fund-raising despite the in-denial pre-convention claims of her supporters that Peckinpaugh's name recognition was the key to instant campaign riches.
Peckinpaugh used to be a TV newsreader, and decided in March of this year that it might be nice to try Republicanism for a change. A few weeks after she signed up as a new Republican, only weeks before the convention, she also decided that she wanted to run for Congress too. Despite instant media attention due to her past notoriety Peckinpaugh did next to nothing after the convention to gain the support of 2nd District Republicans and I don't see how that translates to votes.
Novak's supporters are loyal, and likely to turn out to vote. In addition, even though she has not always had an easy road in this column - full disclosure, I worked on Daly's campaign a couple of times, first when he declared in 2009 and then doing news releases for him in 2010 - Novak has always been graceful under pressure and continued on with her campaign.
Her tenacity and grace certainly will have won her some support. She obviously had enough to win the nomination at the party convention, despite the best efforts of GOP insiders to unseat her.
Regardless of who wins the 2nd District nod tomorrow, they will have tough going against Courtney. I was told today that he has so much money that he wrote a six-figure check to the Democratic National Committee recently to help other Democratic campaigns across the nation. That Courtney has more money to give away than the combined fortunes of the three GOP contenders should tell you a lot.
Courtney would use Dubitsky's inexperience against him. Peckinpaugh's "campaign" is a joke and would pose no more difficulty for him than swatting a pesky mosquito. I almost choked on my bacon during Sunday brunch when I heard a local commentator claim that Peckinpaugh has been "making a name for herself" in the 2nd District. Unfortunately for Peckingpaugh and her supporters I don't think the "name" she supposedly is making for herself is the kind that translates to confidence, financial support and most importanly, votes.
She can have all the media friends in the tank for her that she can gather, it isn't going to change the fact that Peckinpaugh is a pseudo-Republican with no backing other than a handful of party insiders who obviously have their own agenda, and that agenda does not include the betterment of the GOP in Connecticut.
From this vantage point, the candidate who is best situated to give Courtney a race is Daria Novak and she will have my vote in the primary.
Monday, August 09, 2010