Wednesday, February 28, 2007

2nd District speculation....

The news story on who the Republicans might be looking at as potential challengers to Democratic Congressman Joe Courtney will run in tomorrow's paper. But for "packing purposes," the scorecard listing those whose names are being mentioned is being converted into a graphic - and I'm not sure how they will look on the Web site tomorrow morning.

So, I've decided to put it out here on the blog this afternoon. I'd be most interested in hearing what you think.

Seriously considering making a run are:
Bozrah Fire Selectman Keith Robbins.
Former Groton Submarine Base commander Sean Sullivan.
Former FEMA Regional Director Daniel Craig.

Robbins told me Tuesday that he'll make his decision in a week to 10 days. Well known in southeastern Connecticut, he is chairman of the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Government. He is also very active in the Connecticut Confernece of Municipalities (CCM) and Connecticut Organization of Small Towns (COST) - which helps in establishing name recognition among party players. That's an important element at this stage of the game, a good 20 months from the election. Establishing name recognition with voters is something that can be done later. Biggest hurdle Robbins faces is can he raise the $1 million to $2 million to mount a viable campaign.

Sullivan told me Tuesday that he would "entertain" the idea - but that wasn't a yes or no. He has had plans to enter politics since retiring from the U.S. Navy last year, and was said to possibly be considering a run at state Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, in the 2008 General Assembly races. But's attractive, although he admits that his biggest hurdle is never having run a political campaign, and jumping at the congressional level for his bid might prove particularily challenging. He would, however, be a strong candidate for the GOP nomination if he did get into the race because of his non-political, military background. He's very well known in southeastern Connecticut, and would likely attract a lot of attention from other parts of the district out of interest in wanting to know more about him.

Craig is currently working as a consultant with a law firm in Washington, but still has property in Deep River. He formerly served as the Deep River Republican Town Committee Chairman. Earlier today he told me that he has "toyed" with the idea of making a run at the position, but wouldn't come into the race until after March 31 - if he does. Reason for that is March 31 is the campaign financing filing deadline - and you wouldn't want your first FEC report to indicate you "can't raise the money." By coming in after March 31, you give yourself a full three months to build up that first warchest to be reported later in July.

Two potentials who will NOT be running - but probably could have easily grabbed the GOP nomination:
Former Groton Mayor and Simmons' District Office Director Jane Dauphinais.
State Rep. Diana Urban, D-North Stonington.

If Dauphinais - and she told me Tuesday she "is not a candidate" - were to make a bid, she would be considered the strongest among the GOP hopefuls based solely on her last six years working as Simmons' District Director. None of the other would-be candidates know as much about the job as she does. And although she conceded the idea of being a member of Congress is "wonderful," what she doesn't like is the road you travel to get there - also known as campaigning. If if wasn't for that fact that she would to campaign, she'd probably do it. But...she's not.

Urban was well position to make a very strong bid for the nomination - except she's now a Democrat. Ambitious and bright, Urban had plans to run for Cathy Cook's Senate seat last year, but got elbowed aside by the GOP in favor of Lenny Winkler. That didn't sit well with Urban who has long thought that the GOP hasn't treated her well. She made some noise last year when she announced she was going to run as a petitioning candidate in the U.S. Senate race, but fell short of gathering the necessary number of signatures to qualify and gave up that bid. Then, after her re-election to the state House of Representatives, she jumped to the Democratic Party.

Among current Republican members of the General Assembly, there is only one possible contender:
State Rep. Pam Sawyer of Bolton. She is currently the Minority Whip, smart and has an impressive resume. She is a quick study and well-versed on the issues. Her hurdle, however, is that her representative district isn't that populated, so she would come in with a small base of support. She's not well known beyond that and there is some question as to how effective a fundraiser she would be. Her past campaigns have not required her to raise large amounts - and this one would. Not sure she wants to make that kind of effort with such short notice.

Other current General Assembly members whose names are being mentioned - but are NOT likely to run:
State Rep. Michael Caron from Killingly.
State Rep. Michael Alberts of Woodstock.
State Sen. John Kissel of Enfield.
(Caron and Alberts have told me in the past they are simply not interested. Kissel has long considered that possibility, but the timing of things personally for him may prove that this isn't the year for him.)

Others being mentioned - but again, NOT likely to run:
Former state Sen. Cathy Cook of Mystic.
Former state Rep. Lenny Winkler of Groton.
(Both are coming off tough, unsuccessful elections last year and it's unlikely either are inclined to jump into an even more gruling campaign so quickly.)
Preston First Selectman Robert Congdon.
(Congdon told me Tuesday he's not interested and will instead seek re-election to his municipal job this year. His name gets mentioned because of his wide name recognition in light of the Norwich State Hospital property development proposal with Utopia.)
And Catherine Marx of Hebron, the governor's former Eastern Area Director. Smart and hard working, but not well known and probably not strong enough in the fundraising aspect to make a strong bid.

Now...there's probably a few others out there who may also be considering it but are flying well below the radar at this stage. The problem is, there isn't a lot of time for the would-be challengers to decide if they want to get into the mix. And the reason for that is the money. A lof of it has to be raised and raised quickly. Both Rob Simmons and Joe Courtney have proven that the only way to do this is to get into the game early - spend the first year lining up your organizational support and raising money, and then next year start reaching out to voters.


Blogger wtfdnucsubsailor said...

Keith Robbins would be a formidable candidate. He has a quick wit and is not afraid to speak his mind. It would be a lively campaign. Sean Sullivan will have cultural shock if he runs. He needs more political experience before embarking on the congressional path.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Ray Hackett said...

I would agree with you. If Robbins gets in, it would most certainly be a lively campaign.

As for Sullivan and "cultural shock," I've talked with a lot of congressional challengers over the years - and even some of the more "experienced" political folk who have stepped up to that level have admitted afterwards that it is indeed an eye-opening adventure.

Even Courtney told me after his first bid in the 2002 campaign that it was a "learning experience."

The good news, however, is that we have a couple of names here so that it should prove to be both an interesting campaign that will ultimately give voters a choice...and that's what is really important.

9:17 AM  

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