Monday, July 31, 2006

Lieberman tour update...

Here's the itinerary for Sen. Joseph Lieberman's tour of eastern Connecticut on Tuesday. The times are the scheduled stops, but it's likely that in some cases, the bus may be running a bit late.
8:15 a.m. - The Shack diner in East Lyme.
10:15 a.m. - Monvtille Senior Center.
12:15p.m. - Wauregan Hotel in downtown Norwich.
1:15 p.m.- Plum Tomato in Colchester.
2 p.m. - Noel's Supermarket in Colchester.
4 p.m. - Electric Boat in Groton.
5 p.m. - Willimantic Fire Department.
5:30 p.m. - Zips Diner in Dayville.
6:45 p.m. - National Night Out events in Plainfield.

Lamont reaching out far and wide...

U.S. Senate Democratic primary challenger Ned Lamont is reaching out to a younger, more hip, segment of the voting population with an appearance tonight on the cable television Comedy Channel's Colbert Report. The program airs tonight (Monday) at 11:30 p.m. - and will be repeated on the Comedy Channel Tuesday morning at 8:30 and again at 2:30 Tuesday afternoon.

Lieberman tour of eastern Connecticut...

U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman's 10-day tour of Connecticut will pull into eastern Connecticut on Tuesday. The exact itinerary has not yet been released, but stops in East Lyme, Montville, Norwich, Colchester, Killingly and Plainfield are planned.
Lieberman, a three-term incumbent, is facing his most difficult re-election bid since being elected to the Senate in 1988. Anti-war candidate, Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont, is challenging Lieberman in a Democratic primary next week. Polls indicate Lamont and Lieberman are in a statistical dead heat. Lieberman is collecting petitioning signatures to qualify as an independent candidate in November in the event he loses the Aug. 8 primary. Lamont has pledged to support the Democratic nominee.

Weekend leftover...

Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye campaigned in Connecticut Sunday, for both Demoocratic congressional candidate Joe Courtney in the 2nd District, and U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman - facing as we all know a difficult primary challenge from anti-war candidate Ned Lamont.

What makes Inouye's appearance in Connecticut on behalf of Lieberman a bit more interesting is that the senior senator from Hawaii - a Medal of Honor winner - is one of only 22 seanators who initially voted against going to war with Iraq. One might think that Ned Lamont's position on the war might be more in tune with Inouye's position. But when I talked with the senator Sunday in Groton, I asked him about his desire to assist Lieberman in his re-election bid. This is how Inouye explained it:

"I served in war, so if I vote to go to war I need to be convinced that it is the right thing to do. I was one of 22 who voted against it. I was called unpatriotic. But apparently things have changed. Seventy-eight senators voted in favor of the war and they are good Americans, and patriots. Some now feel that things are not going right, and some believe that we need to continue. What I like are independent thinking people - like Joe Lieberman.

"My vote against the war doesn't mean I'm a renegade. His support doesn't mean he is. When I see what's happening here in Connecticut, I can't help but think that this isn't right. You don't condemn someone who has spent his entire life serving people because of one issue."

Friday, July 28, 2006

Another weekend...

A few thoughts and tidbits to wrap up the week...

Democratic gubernatorial candidates John DeStefano and Dan Malloy will be in Norwich over the weekend. DeStefano and his supporters will be canvassing in the city on Saturday. Malloy and his campaign folks will be at Dodd Stadium Sunday for a pre-game rally.

Connecticut Minuteman and JohnnyBravo are engaging in quite the debate on this page related to immigration...both falling a bit short of convincing the other to see it there way. Might I suggest, gentlemen, that's an issue where there is no right or wrong answer - and one of those issues where once you make up your mind, you're probably not going to change it.

Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye is in Groton Sunday for a campaign stop on behalf of 2nd Congressional District candidate Joe Courtney.

I'm taking Saturday off...

Enjoy the weekend...the next 10 days are going to be crazy.

On the road...

U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman and his Democratic primary challenger Ned Lamont will once again dominated the news cycle for the day.

Lieberman is embarking on what his campaign is calling "Joe's Tomorrow Tour," a 10-day tour of Connecticut beginning today and running up to the primary a week from Tuesday - barring any major votes in the Senate. The first leg of the tour is in the western part of the state, suggesting the eastern Connecticut stops will likely be coming up next week. I'll keep you informed.

Meanwhile, Lamont will be in Harrtford this afternoon, accepting the endorsement of Michael Schiavo, widow husband of Terry Schiavo. The Senate's support - and in particular Lieberman's support - of actions in relationship to the Schiavo case have long been part of Lamont's stump speech in making the case that it's time for a change.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Stretching it a bit...don't you think?

I realize it's been tough on the two Democratic candidates in the gubernatorial race, overshadowed by the U.S. Senate contest, but today's exchange of press releases certainly shows how bad it's getting.

The Malloy camp today sent out a press release essentially reminding the press that key Connecticut state constitutional officers "are still" backing his campaign. I don't recall anyone suggesting they weren't.

The DeStefano campaign countered with a press release listing the key Connecticut office holders backing him - and then added that so are the unions and the working families of union members.

Just in case anyone missed it, Malloy won the Democratic state convention endorsement - and DeStefano won the AFL-CIO state convention endorsement. But that months ago.

Bubbling under the surface...

The congressional races. It would appear that the races in Connecticut's 2nd, 4th and 5th Congressional districts are about to take off - and take off in a big way. These are going to be extremely hard fought campaigns, as witnessed early with the media campaign that incumbent Congresswoman Nancy Johnson and her Democratic challenger Chris Murphy have already launched.

There is this feeling among Democrats that this is the year that will allow them to take back control of the House, and these three races are being touted as key contests in achieving that goal. Expect both sides to leave nothing on the sidelines. Consider this:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has reportedly purchased $20 million worth of television time in 11 congressional districts - including the Hartford/New Haven media market where they can all three of Connecticut's races.

A generic poll conducted by the New York Times and CBS News shows voter dissatisfaction with the Republican controlled Congress is at an all-time low. A mere 28 percent approve of the way Congress is doing the job - that's lower than President Bush's approval ratings which now sit around 36 percent nationally - and considerably lower here in Connecticut.

Displeasure with the Iraq War is growing as witnessed around these parts by the U.S. Senate Democratic primary, and a Ned Lamont victory in less than two weeks will signal that it is an issue that incumbents- especially Republican House members - will have to deal with in November.

And this little item. Rep. Jack Murtha of Pennsylyvania is hitting the road to campaign for Democratic candidates. Murtha, of course, is the respected House Democrat who sparked the fight over the Iraq issue, calling for an immediate withdrawal of troops - and then being soundly criticized by those who opposed that position. According to the Washington, DC-based magazine The Hill, Murtha will campaign in 41 districts. Whether Connecticut will be one is not yet none. But don't be surprised if he shows up. Why does a Murtha visit make news? Murtha is the face of the anti-war movement. And his decision to go out and campaign is something new for him. He didn't campaign for a single House Democrat in 2004. And this year, he's doing 41?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The "other" race

In the print version of this blog - Hackett on Politics - that's runs in the Sunday Norwich Bulletin, I suggested last week that the gloves were coming off in the Democratic gubernatorial race between Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy and New Haven Mayor John DeStefano. It is beginning to turn into a bare knuckles brawl with reports today of the Malloy came running a "push" poll against his opponent.

A push poll is a telephone "survey" that essentially consists of "questions" that are intended to make the other guy look bad. Reportedly the issue arose when a recipient of such a call came forward - none other than former 2nd District Congressman Sam Gejdenson, a supporter of DeStefano.

The Malloy camp has denied any involvement. According to a statement given to the Hartford Courant, campaign manager Chris Cooney said, ""If Sam Gejdenson thinks he got a push poll, it certainly wasn't from the Malloy campaign or anyone we consider supporters." Cooney went on to say the campaign has never conducted a push poll.

DeStefano campaign manager Derek Slap today countered that voters should be offered a registry of "do not call" protection against the Malloy tactics, adding this little item, "If Dan Malloy wants to attack John DeStefano he should not hide behind a push poll. Tinkerbell isn't making those calls, Dan Malloy's campaign or his supporters are making those calls."

Sad to say, but this flap has done more for both in terms of gaining media attention than any of the "issue-related" press conferences the two have held in the last several months.

Money is apparently no object...

Brace yourself. The next 13 days are going to be like nothing any of us have seen before in terms of local elections. And, of course, I'm talking about "the" election - the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.
Now that primary challenger Ned Lamont has topped the $3 million mark in personal contributions to his campaign, a clause in the federal campaign financing laws allows incumbent Sen. Joseph Lieberman to accept larger contributions from individuals. The limit is $2,100 per person. This provision in the law, however, now allows Lieberman to accept twice as much from individuals $4,200. And that doesn't include the other little provision in the law that would allow individual to make the maximum contributions towards a "primary" election, and then do the same again for a "general" election.

Why the emphasis on money? Simple - TV advertising. It can get expensive, and we can expect to see lots of TV ads in the coming 13 days. The Lieberman camp is already putting together an ad featuring former President Bill Clinton. Lamont, who according to his FEC filing, had only $276,976 cash on hand as of June 30 - that after raising $1.9 million (of which $1.1 million was his own) and spending it. You can expect the Lamont campaign will counter any Lieberman ads with their own.

The other issue where money is important is the field operation. At this stage of the campaign, it becomes the most important part of the campaign. Let's face it, there are few registered Democrats (if any at all that are unaware of this race). The only question is how many of them will come out and vote? And that is what the field operations are all about -turning out the vote. And that, too, can cost money.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


The latest Rasmussen Report poll shows Ned Lamont continuing to gain in his bid to oust three-term incumbent Sen. Joseph Lieberman - in both the Aug. 8 Democratic primary and in a three-way race with Lieberman as the indepedent candidate.

According to the poll, Lamont now holds a 10-percentage point lead (51-41) over Lieberman among likely primary voters - and the two are in a statistical dead heat in a three way contest, each garnering 40 percent of the voters.

There is one footnote to this, however. The poll for the Democratic primary is a very small sampling, a subset of a larger sampling of 1,000 voters. The primary numbers are based on only 286 registered Democrats who said they were likely to vote on Aug. 8.

Conventional wisdom is that between 20 and 25 percent of the eligible registered Democrats will turn out to vote on Aug. 8. But this race has been anything but conventional. I find it a bit hard to believe that given the amount of publicity - locally as well as nationally and internationally , that only one in four registered Democrats will vote. I think there may be enough interest being generated in this contest that we could see a larger turnout. Even the folks at Rasmussen acknowledge that it is nearly impossible to determine how many will actually vote in a primary.

On the Democratic gubernatorial contest - sometimes now known as that "other" race - Republican incumbent Gov. M. Jodi Rell maintains a comfortable 20-plus point advantage over both Democratic challengers. Rell leads endorsed Democrat Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy 56-31, and leads New Haven Mayor John DeStefano 54-32. One of the more distrubing signs for either Democrat is that Rell is enjoying support among 35 percent of Democrats in both match-ups.

Getting covered

The U.S. Senate Democratic primary is not the only race in Connecticut receiving national media coverage. CNBC, the cable television news channel, was in Norwich Monday covering events involving U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District, and his Democratic challenger, Joe Courtney. The Washington Post is also interested in the congressional race.
With all the attention being focused on the Senate race, the congressional rematch between Simmons and Courtney appears to also have some national interests.
The two Democratic candidates running for governor should be so lucky.

It's an open forum...opinions welcomed.

In response to one of my earlier postings on this blog, a reader who goes by the name of Connecticut Minuteman wrote the following....

It would be great if the issues that the Bulletin fails to report on could at least be talked about here. There is an urgent need for the citizens of this country to wake up and realize how our country and the American middle class are losing ground due to the last 30 years of politics. There is not only a war on the middle class, but, so much more happening that is not being covered by mainstream media, including the Bulletin.

Rather than just continue the thread, I thought, in this case, it would be worthwhile to put it as a new entry and simply invite discussion. Minuteman, what issues in particular would you like to see discussed here?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Random thoughts for the beginning of the week...

Two members of Congress...Maxine Waters of California and Marcy Kaptor of Ohio...were in Connecticut over the weekend campaigning for U.S. Senate primary challenger Ned Lamont. Did you attend any of the events? How were they?

Big day for Sen. Joseph Lieberman. Barbara Boxer of California will campaign at two stops for him this morning in Norwalk and Stamford, and then later this afternoon, former Presdient Bill Clinton hits the campaign trail in Waterbury for Lieberman. Are you planning to attend either? If so, I'd like to hear how you think it went.

As for me, I'm sticking a little closer to home Monday. Second Congressioal District Democratic challenger Joe Courtney has a press conference later this afternoon to talk about the Medicare prescription drug program. That race hasn't gotten very much attention, and that issue is an important one for many folks here in eastern Connecticut. And since I can't be in two places at the same time, I'll let the AP wire cover the Boxer/Clinton visits - since it's unlikely they'll cover the 2nd District press conference.

Also having a pretty big weekend was U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd. His trip to Florida apparently went very well, earning the senior senator from Connecticut some high praise in his bid for a presidential run.

Friday, July 21, 2006


With all the focus on the 2006 campaign, I thought I'd wrap up the week with a quick peek at what's going on in the 2008 contest. We've got two horses gearing up for that race, U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd and former Virginia Gov. (and Rockville High School grad) Mark Warner.

Dodd heads off to Florida this weekend as he begins his campaign for the Democratic nomination. He's raised about $2.4 million so far. Well behind the front-runners, but not bad for someone who hasn't been in the race very long. He's also hired a half-dozen political veterans and just slapped down the $50,000 to buy Iowa Democratic Party's electronic voter file - a must tool to have if you're serious about competing in the first caucus.

Warner is also among the four early birds to pick up a copy of the Iowa list, and recently added a new member to his leadewrship PAC staff. Jim Jordanhas joined the staff as a part-time senior advisor - at least through the 2006 campaign. Jordan was John Kerry's campaign manager in the early part of the 2004 presidential race.

Warner's fundraising efforts are also going fairly well, raising $8.2 million since last November. Much of that money is being spent on helping Democratic congressional candidates in the 2006 races. To date, $860,000 has been contributed to 108 candidates.

It's still a long way from the start of the 2008 campaign, and neither Warner nor Dodd are polling well in the early polls.

An open spot on the ballot?

Republican Alan Schlesinger's U.S. Senatorial bid appears to be slowly slipping away, and it's only a matter of time before he announces he is withdrawing from the race. The question is does he step aside before Aug. 8 or after?
Although some would like to believe and foster the idea that U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman will be offered the sport if he should lose the Aug. 8 Democratic primary, that isn't going to happen. Lieberman has outlined his plans for his independent bid in the event he loses., and Republicans, I suspect would be much more comfortable in replacing Schlesinger with one of their own - and someone who might actually be a contender in a three-way contest.
Schlesinger, if you haven't been following the saga, has some major problems with his past gambling activities - using a fake name at Foxwoods and now apparently sued by two New Jersy casinos in the past for gambling debts. Even he has to know that his chances of winning an election under those circumstances are next to none.

The parade begins

Add two new names to the list of Democrats campaigning in Connecticut for the U.S. Senate Democratic primary candidates.
California Sen. Barbara Boxer is scheduled to make two campaign stops for incumbent Sen. Joseph Lieberman Monday in Norwalk and Stamford.
And Ohio Congressowman Marcy Kaptur will be in New Britain Monday lending support to Ned Lamont's candidacy.

Clinton visit

U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman's campaign released the details of the Clinton visit on Monday in Waterbury, and will be holding a lottery later this evening to distribute tickets to the public interested in attending. If you are interested, this is what you need to do:
1. Send an e-mail to Marshall@joe , or
2. Stop by the Lieberman Waterbury campaign office at 86 Bank Streeet and sign up.
The lottery drawing will be held tonight and winners notified. Those winning tickets can pick them up at the Waterbury office Saturday and Sunday from 9 9 p.m., and on Monday 9 a.m. to noon. A valid photo ID will be required for admittance.
The event begins at 4 p.m. Monday at the Palace Theater.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Clinton coming...

Former President Bill Clinton will be in Waterbury Monday, campaigning for U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman. The Lieberman campaign did not release any specifics regarding the visit in terms of time or place.
The announcement comes on the day when a new Quinnipiac University poll was released showing that primary challenger Ned Lamont has taken a lead in the race among likely Democratic voters. Lamont holds a slim 51-47 percent lead over Lieberman, according to the poll.


Quinnipiac University has released its latest poll on the two Democratic primaries.
Anti-war challenger Ned Lamont has taken a slim lead over three-term incumbent U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman among likely Democratic primary voters - 51-47 percent.
Lieberman, however, still wins in a three -way battle in the he November election running as an indenpendent candidate - Lieberman 51-percent, Lamont 27 percent, Alan Schlesinger, 9-percent.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell still maintains a strong lead over both her Democratic challengers, 62-25 against New Haven Mayor John DeStefano and 64-23 over Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy.
Fifty-one percent of voters still say they don't know enough about DeStefano to have an opinion on him, while 75 percent have no opinion on Malloy.
DeStefano holds a comfortable lead over Malloy in a match up among likely Democratic primary voters, 52-32 percent.
Here's how the Malloy camp responded today....
"We believe that a significant percentage of true primary voters are just starting to focus on this primary race, which is why we are just now ramping up a very intense and highly focused final phase of our paid communications plan (TV, mail, etc.). Conversely, our opponent chose to go very heavy on TV very early. The bottom line is that we have a strategy that is all about timing and execution -- talk to the right voters at the right times in the right ways. Focused, deliberate, and disciplined. We have built a strong statewide operation that will lead to victory on Election Day -- the same kind of operation that carried the Democratic convention. The Malloy for Governor Team is very much looking forward to Primary Day!"

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The race

A day doesn't pass anymore without news about the U.S. Democratic contest between three term incumbent Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont. Here's the latest:
- Lamont, who has already contributed $2 million of his own money to the campaign, pledged to match "dollar for dollar" every contribution made online to his campaign from today through the primary on Aug. 8. Considering the impact the Internet has shown in the area of fundraising, one could rightly assume a major boost financially to his campaign.
This is how Lamont explained his pledge to supporters in an e-mail today: " This isn't a "jihad" as Senator Lieberman claims, this is what democracy looks like. By contrast, theirs is a desperate campaign filled with distortions, half-truths and outright lies. We've tried to keep the debate focused on the issues, but with so much at stake I refuse to let their underhanded campaign tactics go unanswered. That's why I'll match your contribution today. "
- The New York Times has picked up on the story of Lamont's membership in an exclusive private club that he resigned from just before entering the race. According to the story, Lamont told the Times he quit because he didn't want his membership at the Greenwich Round Hill Country Club to become a distraction in the campaign. Lamont attributed to the exclusivity of the club to its expense, but also noted in the article that he became "concerned" that many of its members were white and " not as diverse as it should be."

Outside the debate

As mentioned in my last post, the goings-on outside the theater can be as interesting - and sometimes more interesting - then the actual debate that takes place inside. A couple of things caught my eye as I milled around outside before heading in:
- A member of the Green Party, sporting a Clifford Thorton for Governor button, was outside gathering signatures on petitions to put the party's slate on the November ballot. Since the vast majority of those at the Garde were supporters of the two Democratic gubernatorial challengers, it was a bit surprising to see people signing the petitions.
- Also collecting signatures outside was State Rep. Diana Urban , R-North Stonington, who is mounting an independent candidacy for U.S. Senate - the backup (insurance policy) candidate for anti-Lieverman voters in the event Ned Lamont is unsuccessful in next month's Senate primary.
- Also showing up was a small, maybe a dozen , group of Lamont supporters waving campaign signs. I didn't notice any Lieberman supporters.
- And despite the fact that the television cameras never once panned the audience during the debate, representatives of the League of Women Voters - one of the three sponsors of the event - greeted attendees at the door collecting campaign signs and asking that all campaign buttons or shirts be removed before entering the theater.

The guberantorial debate

One of the traditions associated with the debates at the Garde Arts Center in New London is the organized labor rally outside the theater - and the arrival of the candidate not endorsed by the unions marching up State Street. Last night's debate had both and normally wouldn't be of such an interest except this year's election is different than past years.
The Democratic gubernatorial candidates have labored under the shadow of the more contentious U.S. Senate Democratic contest. It has been difficult for either to break through. Add to that the expectations of a low voter turnout on Aug. 8 - and suddenly that union support seems a bit more influential this year. And that would seem to benefit New Haven Mayor John DeStefano. It appeared pretty clear that the majority of those present for the debate were DeStefano supporters - thanks primarily to the unions turning out the numbers.
But watching the debate in person verus watching it play out on a television screen is something different. How many actually tuned in last night to watch isn't known - but my guess is very few.
Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, who needed a strong showing last night, came out aggressively in trying to draw a clear distinction between himself and DeStefano. Similar to DeStefano - a major problem for the two because they agree more than disagree on virtually every key point - Malloy used his success in Stamford as the springboard in making his case as the better candidate to handle the problems of the state. In fact, he has one of the better lines of the night when he suggested that anyone who doesn't think Stamford is a successful model should see afterwards, "and I'll give you $12.50 so you can take a bus to Stamford."
Bottom line:
- There was no clear winner in terms of either candidate locking up undecided voters .
- Neither candidate was successful in elevating the guberantorial contest to a level equal to the attention that will continue to be focused on the Senate race.
- DeStefano maintains the advantage entering the final weeks because he is still slightly better known in these parts, and he has the union support.
But don't rule out Malloy yet. DeStefano had the same advantage going into the May State convention- but it was Malloy who emerged with the endorsement.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What it's all about

Welcome to the start of this new adventure- blogging. To be honest, this is all new to me and I'm not sure how it's going to work. It kind of falls into that catergory of "old dogs and new tricks." But we'll give it a whirl.
Basically, I envision this as an extension of the weekly Sunday column that appears on the Editorial Page of the Norwich Bulletin - Hackett on Politics. Readers have always responded to the column either via e-mail or phone and I have always tried to respond to each of those letters and calls. So I invite your participation and comments here and I will endeavor to do the same. Feel free to agree, disagree or if the desire moves you, expound on the thoughts expressed here. Feel free to ask questions and I'll do my best to get answers for you. The site is not being moderated since I have no desire to censor anyone. You are entitled to your opinion and I would only hope that everyone would express their views in a civil manner, and treat others with the same respect.
So we're off to the races. We'll pick it up tomorrow with some thoughts about tonight's gubernatorial debate between Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy and New Haven Mayor John DeStefano.

Welcome to Hackett on Politics

Ray Hackett, the Norwich Bulletin's chief political reporter, will blog on this year's elections. Hackett has more than 30 years experience covering politics on the local, state and national level. He has covered Connecticut politics for the Bulletin for the last 18 years.