Sunday, November 07, 2010

Connecticut Should Be Ashamed of Bridgeport; Foley Must Stand Up AND Stand Tall!

In the movie An Innocent Man, actor Tom Selleck's character, in prison after being framed, is told by a fellow inmate, "In here you don't have to stand tall, but you do have to stand up."

I've been thinking about that quote a lot since Election Day, probably because, like Selleck's movie character, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley is facing a test of strength and character under nightmarish conditions.

Foley told a news conference Friday that even though Connecticut's Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz finally "officially" designated Democrat Dan Malloy as the winner of Tuesday's election, he (Foley) doesn't trust her numbers and will take this weekend to decide whether to contest the flawed election in court.

I don't trust Bysiewicz's numbers either, and I doubt there are more than a handful of people with IQs over the triple digit mark in the entire state who could pass a lie detector test if they said they did trust her.

There were so many "irregularities" in the just passed election, many in Bridgeport but presumably elsewhere as well, that with the very small margin Bysiewicz has handed Malloy there should at least be a recount, and at best a runoff election.

Friday night, three days after the election was over, after Bridgeport missed legal reporting deadlines by days, and after it was revealed that Bridgeport election officials "found" bags of previously "undiscovered" ballots, Bysiewicz released a statement showing 566,498 votes for Malloy and 560,861 for Foley — a difference of 5,637 votes out of 1,127,359 cast.

That comes out to just over one-half of one percent separating the two, which would be a major point in any other major race in the state - in which an automatic recount is triggered if the margin is one-half of one percent or less. Except that this is the race for Governor, which requires that a recount is automatic only if the margin is under 2,000 votes, regardless of the percentage. Why is that? Did our Republican senators and representatives go along with that criteria?

Regardless, the margin is razor thin, there were so many documented violations of election law in Bridgeport alone that there should not only be a recount, but a new election and a federal investigation. This election is a travesty, and the entire state should be ashamed of the mockery that the Connecticut Democratic party has made of our system.

Most of all, Dan Malloy should be hanging his head in shame, although, having watched his electioneering over the past several months, I doubt he has the acumen to understand why people might think that way.

Faced with what is such an obvious effort to steal this election - reminiscent of the similar theft that continued the political career of "Landslide Lyndon" Johnson in Texas, and look how that turned out - Foley is honor bound to stand tall in this case and push as far as he has to, all the way to the US Supreme Court if necessary. I realize that the cost of this effort could be dumped right on him, but Foley was willing to spend millions of his own dollars to run for election, and he shouldn't get skimpy when it comes to ensuring that the election was fair.

Foley won't get much sympathy from some media people, that was obvious from the tone and flat out stupidity of some of the questions he fielded at his Friday press conference. One media genius asked if he Foley was showing disrespect for the Republican registrar of voters in Bridgeport - the second loneliest job in the world after Maytag repairmen considering that Bridgeport is overwhelmingly Democratic - and another asked if Foley honestly thought he could find more than 5,000 extra votes.

What a mental giant. Hey Media - Foley may need to find only 2,819 votes to turn this election around. Why? Because assuming that the total stays put, for every vote that goes to Foley, one gets taken away from Malloy. See how that works? And Foley's total already was adjusted upward in Torrington, a small city on the west side of the state, by 2,000 votes. So what makes our ever so upright and capable media think that he wouldn't find similar mistakes elsewhere in the state?

Oh, I get it! The media doesn't want him to find miscounts in any other communities. I see. Just like the media is walking away from the highly questionable vote tallies received by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid out in Las Vegas. Reid won by nearly 6 percentage points after every major polling organization in the country had his opponent ahead by anywhere from 1 to 4 points. Yet, even as the GOP was claiming voter fraud in the days when early voting was allowed, no one seems too interested in finding how Reid came up with a totally unexpected 60,000 votes!

Rasmussen says it was a higher-than-expected turnout among people who were essentially disinterested in the race, but when pressed favored Reid!

But back in Connecticut, we know where the problems are and we don't have to do an in-depth analysis of the electorate to see what went wrong. The entire system went wrong especially in the state's largest city, but elsewhere too, and there is no way we should allow this to stand without the fullest and most complete challenge possible.

I know this has been a difficult time for Tom Foley and his family. They have been campaigning for months, and they have been going non-stop. But the race isn't over, and if Foley lets it go at this point, he not only has let the voters down, he has let his family down, and is setting the stage for the disenfranchisement of future generations as well. This election has been nothing short of a debacle for Republicans in Connecticut and Foley is the one person in the right position to at least insure that the vote for the state's highest office was legal.

Money may be an issue, but I strongly suspect that if there is a legal way to set up a fund to pursue this to the Supreme Court, the Tea Parties, locally, throughout Connecticut, and nationally as well, will be more than willing to contribute and help defray the costs.

Anything less is simply unacceptable.
Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Linda McMahon: Doomed From the Outset?

Before the Connecticut state Republican convention in May I was a staunch backer of former Congressman Rob Simmons in his quest for the nomination to run in the US Senate race against Democrat Richard Blumenthal.

During that period I wrote several columns showcasing potential problems that would be faced if Linda McMahon were selected as the GOP candidate, starting with her World Wrestling Entertainment firm's history regarding steroid use, questionable skits and "soap opera" story lines starring the wrestlers and various members of the McMahon family, deaths of former employees and federal investigations.

I did this for two reasons. I wanted fellow Republicans to back the man I was backing, and I also wanted them - and McMahon - to see what they were sure to be facing in the fall elections if she won the nomination. My reasoning on the second point was simple: deal with these issues now or you will surely be facing them in the fall.

But even though she bragged that she would spend as much as $50-million of her own money to win the race, which in itself was a questionable tactic, her ultimate campaign was one of blunders, gaffes and missed opportunities, which leads me to question whether the people backing her ever intended for her to win.

When McMahon visited my local GOP Town Committee I asked her point blank what she was going to do to turn around her incredibly high negative numbers - the percentage of people who see her in an unfavorable light. She said she would attack the negatives with her indomitable fighting spirit just as she had other issues she faced in life. Her supporters gushed and smiled at each other, but apparently failed to note that she had no specific plan.

At the GOP state convention in May, where I was a delegate and voted for Rob Simmons, I had an opportunity to talk one-on-one with McMahon. I found her to be warm, charming and engaging, and in response to a question from her I promised that if she won the convention - and what was sure to be a primary afterward - fair and square, I would close ranks and support her in the general election.

It should be pointed out that I followed Rob Simmons' lead in this position; he is a gentleman and not the kind of man who will desert his party or his beliefs even if he loses and even if there is an unholy conspiracy behind his loss.

She won both the convention - in a display of vote changing at the end of the first three-way ballot that I found disgusting - and the primary, and both Rob Simmons and I kept our promises. But oddly enough there was no interest in what either of us had to say or input that could have helped her against Blumenthal.

McMahon garnered big headlines when her campaign provided the New York Times with proof that Blumenthal was lying about his claimed service in Vietnam, but she made the grievous error of trying to ride that one issue to victory. Nowhere in the campaign did I see anything about the myriad weaknesses Blumenthal was carrying from his years as Connecticut's Attorney General, and nowhere did I see anything in the general election campaign that would tell the undecided voter exactly what McMahon would do differently in Washington if she was elected.

When she should have been on the offensive, gaffes such as a confusing answer on the state minimum wage kept her on the defense. She spent millions on advertising, but apparently no one pointed out to her that there was a point of diminishing returns.

There were so many mailers coming into my home that after a while they ceased to have any impact. There were so many television and radio commercials that after a while they merged into a form of white noise, something going on in the background that wasn't really seeping into conscious thought and action.

McMahon did well in her debates against Blumenthal and nailed him to the wall when he couldn't explain how to create a job. But she relied on the Vietnam lies to win all the state's veterans, which carried two errors. First, so much advertising was focused on his Vietnam lies that over the summer the issue lost its impact. Second, although Vietnam vets are the largest veteran demographic today, they aren't the only segment of the veteran demographic and there are nuances within that overall demographic that must be addressed if such a large voter bloc - 300,000 in Connecticut - is going to support a candidate.

It was in this realm that I offered to help, especially after a commercial attacking Blumenthal's Vietnam claims aired in early October - with the people on the commercial offering no indication by clothing, insignias or other identifiers that they were veterans, or more specifically that they were Vietnam vets.

My offer went exactly nowhere, except possibly into the circular file, as the legions of veterans with expertise in voter dynamics who were on McMahon's campaign staff apparently assured her that what she was doing was all that needed to be done. (Sarcasm intended if not understood.)

Which again makes me wonder; did the people who ran and backed her campaign ever expect, or more pointedly, want her to win. There is little doubt that McMahon wanted to win; assuming that even someone worth a half-billion dollars feels the loss of $50-million. McMahon used her money early on to co-opt the GOP leadership in Connecticut; for instance, hiring the wife of state Chairman Chris Healy for communications work at a really, really nice salary, much higher than normally is paid for that position in this state.

She hired a campaign manager from the west side of the state who despite running unsuccessfully for Congress two years previously, had the support of the inside D.C. Republican establishment including then-President George Bush. She made donations to Republican town committees, and used the promise of future riches, implied if not overt, to lure Simmons supporters to her side before the convention and primary.

But despite the money and the assumed support of the GOP establishment, McMahon never had it. I attended a Simmons fund-raiser in Greenwich in the spring where national GOP strategist Dick Morris referred to McMahon's campaign as "a joke." Some well-known Republican stalwarts attended that event, and it was clear that establishment Republicans would never support McMahon.

Last night, I sat in the Vernon, CT, GOP headquarters as the returns came in and were posted. I noticed that McMahon was beaten handily in traditional Democratic districts, but she also was beaten handily in traditional Republican districts, even when other Republican candidates did very well in those districts. Obviously, Republicans were thinking about their choices, and they either didn't vote for McMahon, or they voted for Blumenthal over her.

Which brings me back to the main point. Did the people surrounding McMahon really intend for her to win, or were they just milking her of some of the WWE's profits, knowing all along that she was the lesser of the GOP candidates and not likely to make a reasonable showing?

In the days before the election McMahon's negatives were over 50 percent, and women were not flocking to her at all. In fact a huge percentage of women voters were totally turned off by her and royally offended that she was blowing millions on an ineffective campaign when so many people are out of work, losing their homes and worried about their bills. She did not connect, and the average woman voter did not feel that she shared their view of the world.

I also talked with several people today who were angry with McMahon's concession speech, which was described as "a victory speech without the victory," and her declaration that she would party all night long. They say she didn't seem to have taken the future of our state and country seriously.

I have believed for quite some time now that many so-called GOP "leaders" in Connecticut who describe themselves as true-blue hard-core Republicans, really aren't Republicans at all.

How else to explain that the Democrats still maintain control of the Connecticut House and Senate and now appear to have won the Governors race too, although there could be a court challenge over voter fraud especially in Bridgeport? How else to explain that when so much of the country turned to the GOP, in Connecticut most voters turned away?

Many other rank-and-file Republicans also have been questioning the true loyalties of the Connecticut party's so-called leaders. Nothing I saw in this election has done anything to answer those questions.
Monday, November 01, 2010

Obama, Bill Clinton Preach to the (mini-version) Choirs; Hartford Cops Tell Visconti - Get Outta Dodge!

The city of Bridgeport, Connecticut has nearly 140,000 residents and is considered a major Democratic stronghold - the kind of place where Democrats go in the final days of a tough campaign to turn out the faithful, get lots of really good publicity shots, and use the "momentum" to squeeze out one more victory.

Which explains why Democratic President Barack Obama went there this weekend to help the faltering campaign of Democratic Representative Jim Himes who is fighting for his political life in Connecticut's 4th Congressional District. Based on media reports that between 8,000 and 9,000 people - including anti-AIDS protesters who are angry with Obama - showed up, it didn't work.

Similarly, former Democratic President Bill Clinton went to West Hartford, Connecticut Sunday night. West Hartford with a population of about 64,000, is nestled up against Hartford, with a population of about 123,000, again Democratic strongholds in a mostly non-affiliated (independent) state. Crowd estimates went all the way up to 2,000; hardly enough to support the women's basketball team at the University of Hartford gymnasium where the rally was staged.

UHart is right on the line between the west side of Hartford and West Hartford, two areas where there are tons of really, really RICH Democrats. These are the kind of Democrats who usually make out financially if they can maintain the status quo, so why wouldn't they turn out by the tens of thousands to show support for Dan Malloy, Democratic candidate for governor?

As an aside, virtually all of the media shots of the events I found in state newspapers were close cropped to give the impression of much larger crowds that just weren't there. Shots on Facebook however, taken with a wide-angle lens at a distance revealed just how embarrassingly thin the crowds were. HMMMMMM.

Meanwhile, Vince McMahon, husband of former World Wrestling Entertainment corporation CEO Linda McMahon who now is locked in a tight race for the US Senate with Democrat Richard Blumenthal, held a wrestling-related event in downtown Hartford this weekend with more than 10,000 in attendance. Vince McMahon encouraged the throngs of wrestling fans to vote, but didn't get partisan.

His wife was not there, she was out on the campaign trail working to convince voters to vote for her so she can apply her business acumen in Hartford.

But Joe Visconti was there. Joe, you may remember, ran unsuccessfully two years ago against Connecticut's Democratic 1st District Congressman John Larson, who is very close in line for the job of Speaker of the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. But Joe is not a quitter and since Larson's new race started against Republican Ann Brickley, Visconti, who is deeply involved in Tea Party activities, has been campaigning hard for her and other Republican candidates.

Joe, is a trained actor and singer, and also works in the construction trades in commercial building and renovations. He has a long construction trailer that he pulls behind his pickup truck adorned with huge signs supporting the GOP and busting on the Dems. Joe's enthusiasm got him knocked down by one of Larson's thug bodyguards at a debate in New Hartford last week, and Saturday, the Hartford cops ordered him to "Get Out of Town!"

Joe was part of a caravan of Brickley and McMahon supporters - and other GOP candidates as well - that coincided with the WWE event. Most of the following footage is of the fun variety, but around 6 minutes into it ... well, take a look for yourself.

I have a question. Should we rename Hartford? Instead of New England's Rising Star, it can be Connecticut's First City (Police) State. Opinions and other ideas are welcome.


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