Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hillary's coming back....

With polls showing Sen. Barack Obama closing in on Hillary Clinton here in Connecticut -- and within
a single digits nationally -- Clinton will make a second appearance in Connecticut . The New York senator is scheduled to be in Connecticut Monday, the day before the primary. Details of her visit not yet being released.

The dwindling field....

John Edwards, who vowed to stay in the race "right up to the convention," pulled out of the Democratic contest yesterday. Although most agree that his poor showing in his native South Carolina was the deciding factor, there was in fact something else going on.

Edwards' main financial support came from trial lawyers. Not surprising since he is a trail lawyer by trade. But after his disappointing showings, the lawyers could see the handwriting on the wall. And after South Carolina last Saturday, they put the word out that they were looking to back someone else (and both the Obama and Clinton camps immediately dispatched folks from their campaigns to talk about the issue.)

With his primary source of funding about to end, Edwards had no choice but to pull the plug. He simply couldn't afford to continue.

Rdy Giuliani's decision to drop out is much simpler. He wanted to avoid looking really bad if he lost New York.

And why is Huckabee still in the race? He's polling much better in the southern states that will vote as part of Super Duper Tuesday next week, taking votes away from Romney -- andh he's holding out hope that he can grab the number two spot on a McCain ticket. A McCain/Huckabee ticket could bring the GOP ranks and file together for the November contest.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


in this morning's newspaper ( we made our endorsements for the upcoming Democratic and Republican primaries here nin Connecticut next week. We endorsed Sen. Barack Obama in the Democratic race and John McCain in the Republican contest. (You can read our reasoning in the editorial.)

We came to this decision late last week, but opted to wait until this morning, after last Saturday's Democratic contest in South Carolina and yesterday's Florida GOP contest, to release it. We did so only because we wanted to wait until the full focus of the primary contests were on Feb. 5.

In making our decision, we decided very early on that what we would not do is try to create the "best matchup" for the November election. Our intent was to put ourselves in the individual roles of the Democratic and Republican voters who would choose among their party's candidates, trying to select who best represented their ideals and thoughts on the issues. In many cases, the candidates do share common ideas -- differing only on the details of how best to implement them.

And we also looked closely at how they presented those ideas -- aka, how they were running their campaigns.

There will be some who will agree with us, some who will not -- and others who honestly believe that newspapers shouldn't "interfer" with political party choices. We respect all those opinions -- and we only hope that all of you respect our opinion -- even if you disagree with it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

An old-fashioned family fued...

i must admit that I am fascinated by the Kennedy endorsement of Barack Obama. it is nothing short of an old-fashioned family fued, a real Hatfield and McCoy shootout.

What we have here are the two dynasties of the Democratic Party, the Kennedys and th Clintons battling for control of the family, aka the Democratic Party. This is no brief tiff and it will be interesting to see how it develops at the end.

The Clintons have dominated the Democratic Party since 1972, much to the dislike of a lot of Democrats who, quite frankly, simply don't like their style. And there are a lot of them. The Kennedys, who use to dominate the Democratic Party, are among that group, willing to put up with the Clintons -- to a point.

That breaking point came in South Carolina - and they said, enough is enough. They tried talking, but their pleass to tone it down went unheeded, so the Kennedys did what they felt needed to be done -- and came out with guns blazing. And in doing so, it gave other Democrats, the ones who haven't much enjoyed the Clintons control of the party, the go-ahead to jump ship.

How this all plays out in the November general election is yet to be seen, but it will certainly have an impact no matter who emerges as the Democratic nominee. In a way, it's very typical Democratic play. Just when you think the Democrats couldn't possibly lose....they seem to find a way.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Monday morning free-for-all...

Hillary Clinton makes a campaign stop in Hartford today while supporters of Barack Obama hold a press conference on the issue of electability. John Edwards capaign is hosting a telephone conference call with reporters....

Ted Kennedy will throw his support behind the Obama campaign, and Toni Morrison, famouse for declaring bill Clinton as America's first "back president" -- will also endorse Obama today.

Republican candidates are scrambling through Florida in preparation of tomorrow's primary, and then forced to make the hard decision on where to go from there. None of the GOP candidates, including Mitt Romney, have sufficient funds or large enough organization to complete in all 22 Super Duper Tuesday primary contests -- so it's pick and choose your fight for them.

Speaking of campaigning....I might be wrong about this...but the best that I can remember only two presidential candidates have ever stepped foot in Eastern Connecticut anytime over the past seven years. They are John McCain and Rudy Giuliani -- both of whom have come to this part of the state to campaign for former 2nd District Congressman Rob Simmons. In fact, McCain has been here far more then Giuliani.

And the remember him....the guy who has the job that everyone wants....delivers his final State of the Union Address tonight.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Democrats in the south....

There seems to be some interesting movement going on in South Carolina in preparation of tomorrow's Democratic primary. According to a couple of polls I've seen, it appears that john Edwards is making a bit of "surge." He's still running third behind Obama and Clinton....but while Obama numbers are holding steady, it looks like Clinton's numbers might be falling and Edwards bnefitting.

If those numbers are accurate, my guess is that voters in South Carolina were not impressed with the display that Clinton and Obama put on during the debate earlier this week....and Edwards may be looking better as a result.

But then again, South Carolina is the state where he was born and the only state he won four years ago. So this might be just a fluke and not indicative of a renewed campaign on his part.

We'll see what the final numbers look like tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

TV Wars...

the Clinton campaign has launched its TV commercial to battle Obama's commercial that has been running for several days already.

If you haven't seen it yet (not that it won't take long before you can't get away from it)'s on YouTube.

Here's the link...

Stranger and stranger...

The moving on the presidential primary front continues....

Hillary Clinton left South Carolina yesterday to campaign in some of the bigger Feb. 5 primary voting states, essentially conceding Saturday's firt Southern state primary to Obama. She did, however, leave her husband Bill in South Carolina to campaign on her behalf so that Obama wouldn't actually coast to victory.

The general thinking has been that John Edwards would likely drop out of the race if has a poor showing in his home state of South Carolina, but that might be changing. Edwards continues to pick up delegates with his third place finishes, and if...a big nominee is decided before the convention in August, he might have enough delegates committed to him to play king-maker -- and getting something in return for the favor .

But then again...considering just how ugly the fight between Clinton(s) and Obama has become -- and promises to get even uglier in the weeks ahead -- Edwards might actually find himself being virewed far more favorably by Democratic voters in future contests.

He may be down, but he may not yet be out.

On the Republican side, the four remaining candidates are having money problems -- well three of the four anyway. Mitt Romney is in a position where he can loan his campaign all it wants and worry about fundraising later to repay himself.

Huckabee has opted not to make a major push in Florida on Tuesday, no TV and limiited campaign stops to save money.

McCain has lined up a series of fundraisers to replenish his warchest - foregoing any serious campaigning for votes.

And Giuliani has spent a large portion of his warchest in Florida where he has staked his claim.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

An interesting strategy....

The Clinton campaign's use of former President Bill Clinton as the attack dog is certainly creating quite the conversation -- as did last night's testy back-and-forth between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton . There once was this "understanding" within the Democratic Party that you didn't speak badly about another Democrat, but that "rule" doesn't appear to be in play anymore.

Watching some of the political pundits last night, I found one analysis particularly interesting. The question was how damaging is the public fued between Obama and the Clintons to the party's overall effort to win in November. The consensus was: Extremely.

That assessment is based on the idea that because of the closeness of the race between the two it only makes sense that no matter who wins the nomination, the "smart" move is to take the other one on as a running mate so that we'll have either a Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton ticket. But the sharp exchanges taking place is making that more and more difficult. The end result could be the loss of a key Democratic voting block for the Clintons -- the black vote.

It's an interesting theory, but I'm not convinced it has a lot of merit. First, I can't see Hillary accepting a number two spot on anyone's ticket...and I'm not sure the American public would believe a Clinton/Obama ticket.

What do you think?

Monday, January 21, 2008

A review of the weekend primaries....

The Nevada and South Carolina caucus and primary were interesting, buty very little was settled in terms of deciding the Republican and Democratic nomination process.

Clinton won Nevada -- and yet Obama got more delegates than she in finishing second. Granted, he only got one more delegate than Clinton, but still it shows this is still a race up for grabs. (Let's remember that Clinton won New Hampshire, but both left the state with nine delegates each.)

Clinton currently leads Obama in the delegate count up to this point, 236 to 136. But...the big winner so far is "None of the above." There are 327 uncommitted delegates assigned already. Most of them are probably the Super Delegates -- congressional members and party officials -- who have not yet declared support for anyone.

A victory in South Carolina is important for Clinton and obama from a "momentum' standpoint, but not likely to make a big difference in how they stand in terms of locking up the nomination. (Although obama probably needs the win a bit more than Clinton does at the moment.) The Feb. 5 Super Duper Tuesday contest will be far more telling.

John Edwards has just 50 delegates -- and desperately needs a victory in South Carolina this weekend. So far, it's not looking good for him -- and the only real question left is how long does he stay in the race.

On the Republican side, John McCain won the South Carolina primary, and is now considered the front-runner in the GOP race. And yet, in terms of delegates awarded, he is in third place with just 36 delegates. Mike Huckabee, who put up a good fight in South Carolina, is second with 40 delegates -- and Mitt Romney, thaks to wins in Michigan and Nevada, is leading the delegate race with 59.

Which means Florida is a critical state for all the GOP contenders. There were be more delegates awarded in Florida than the total number of delegates already awarded. Plus...Florida becomes the first state where all the top contenders are putting up a fight. Up until this point, it's been limited skirmishes between two and three candidates in isolated battles.

Giuliani has bypassed the early states and has no delegates to his credit.

And Fred Thompson, who was probably responsible for mcCain's win in South Carolina -- taking votes away from Huckabee -- has three delegates.

Monday morning...

Middle Aged Lunatic asked if former Congressman Rob Simmons was, or planned to, help Republican congressional candidate Sean Sullivan, adding that assistance might help Sullivan in his fundraising efforts.

I can't speak for the former congressman, but I do understand that he has offered advice and according to Sullivan's FEC report, he has contributed to his campaign. A ot of the names on Sullivan's FEC report are familiar and former supporters of Simmons, so there is some sense of some help being provided.

However, Simmons is somewhat limited in exactly how much he can do. He is currently a "state employee" in his new position as the state's Business Advocate and needs to be careful as to how active a role he plays in partisan elections these days. I don't think his support of Sullivan would raise many eyebrows, but if were to become "too" active in the campaign, that might cause some problems.

And Sullivan, I would suspect, would not be looking for that. I think he understands that any success he might enjoy from the campaign needs to come from his efforts -- and not simply because someone like Simmons, still a very popular figure in the district, is supporting him.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A final note for the week....

Republican congressional candidate Sean Sullivan filed his year-end campaign finance report with the FEC this week. (The reports are normally due on the 15th of the month following the end of each quarter -- except at the end of the year in the non-election year when the deadline is the end of January.)

Anyway, Sullivan reported raising just under $55,000 in the final three months of the year. A bitmore surprising is that his filing also reports spending almost $30,000 during those three months -- for a net gain of about $25,000. According to the filing, Sullivan had $127,194.09 cash on hand as of Dec. 31, 2007.

Courtney's campaign hasn't filed yet, and likely won't until the end of the month. According to Oct. filing, the incumbent had over $767,000 cash on hand. That figure will likely be close to, if not over, the $1 million mark when it does file -- giving him about a 10-1 margin over Sullivan starting the year.

Sullivan's year-end report is disappointing to say the least and not likely to energize the national Republican Congressional Campaign to make this a targeted race.

Connecticut's presidential race...

The candidates aren't coming to Connecticut, but the campaign is...

Brace yourself, Connecticut is about to get hit with campaign commercials. Obama is apparently the first to hit the airwaves in the coming days. Hillary will likely follow . No word yet on the GOP candidates.

One of the more interesting campaign efforts being made these days is coming from the Clinton camp. Realizing how hard it is to compete in 20-plus states at the same time (all of which will vote on Feb. 5), the Clinton is now e-mailing out a "state" summary of what happened yesterday. It's a little tidbit of what "good things" happened for the campaign in each of the Feb. 5 voting states.

The highlight for Connecticut was Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy giving a speeeh on Clinton's economic plan and how Connecticut will benefit from it.

Nineteen days and counting.

Up in Hartford...

The General Asembly will convene a special session Tuesday to take up the criminal justice reform package that Republicans, Democrats and the governor agree are needed. All sides are in agreement on about 95 percent of the proposals being considered. Not bad considering the track record of the folks in Hartford who have had great difficulty this past year on finding agreement on anything.

But as rosy as it might appear, there is trouble just around the bend.

Rell, warning that there's no room under the state's mandatory spending cap to finance any cost-related proposals this fiscal year, is asking lawmakers to only address those reforms where there is agreement -- and no cost associated with implementing them. If they do that, she'll sign the measure and the new reforms can take effective immediately.

As for the other proposals that will have an impact on the state budget, she is recommending those items be discussed during the regular session that begins on Feb. 6. And, she said her budget proposal to be delivered to the legislature on Feb. 6, will include funding for those other initiatives.

Democrats, however, appear to be taking a different approach. Supposedly, they intend on grouping all the proposed reform measures -- the ones everyone agrees to, the ones that don't have everyone's agreement to yet, and the ones that cost money -- and grouping them into one bill that they're going to pass and send to the governor for her signature.

Doing the right thing shouldn't be so difficult.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

South Carolina....the Dem race

Again...using the number of polls being released, it seems that Obama is out in front -- and if correct, appears headed for his next major victory in this contest over Clinton.

Edwards is barely registering, some polls have him in single digits and others in the low teens.

If that holds up when Democrats go to the polls, Edward's campaign is all but over. is over.

What is interesting in the Obama/Clinton battle is what happened in Michigan. Granted, Obama wasn't on the ballot and it was a non-binding referendum for all practical purposes....but Clinton won with nearly 40 percent of those voting -- voting for "someone else."

Among black voters in Michigan, the majority opted to vote uncommitted.

A strong showing by Obama in South Carolina, and he might just have enough momentum going into Feb. 5 to deal Clinton's hopes a major setback.

South Carolina....The GOP race

It's shaping up as a major battle ground....

There have been a small bundle of different polls released recently , all showing pretty much the same results. However, considering what the polls told us in New Hampshire, let's take this with a grain of salt.

But it seems that John McCain is the front-runner on the Republican side with a comfortable lead over Mike Huckabee coming in second. Most of the polls have Mitt Romney in third -- getting no bounce from his Michigan win -- and Fred Thompson a close fourth -- and beating Romney in at least one poll.

Suppose the polls are accurate -- whose the biggest loser here? Huckabee.

He's the southerner and there is a sizeable Christian pool of voters to draw from. To lose to McCain given those advantages would be a major blow to him. (Plus he hasn't impressed anyone since his Iowa victory -- inclouding voters in New Hampshire or Michigan.)

One of Huckabee's big problems in South Carolina is Thompson, who appears to be pulllng votes away from him.

If Thompson can eke out a third place finish, I think he might hang around for Florida. If he finishes fourth, I think he's gone.

Romney stays in it, no matter what. He has no expectations of doing well in South Carolina so a third or even fourth place finish won't mean anything to him.

I think McCain is in the best position...although a win is what he really needs. But finishing second to surging Huckabee in the closing days can be justified and not a campaign killer.

It's Huckabee who might be in trouble here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Some quick mid week thoughts...

Romney won Michigan....which he needed, and needed badly.

That makes next week's South Carolina primary even that much more interesting. Thompson needs a win. He and Guiliani are the only two still in the race without a win. Huckabee hasn't done well since his win in Iowa, and he needs a win. McCain needs a win...and Romney needs another win.

Someone's on their way out after South Carolina...and it will be the one finishing fourth.

Spent the money at the Capitol in Hartford attending the annual CCM press conference telling us that cities and towns aren't getting sufficient help from the state, and the poor property taxpayer is going to once again bear the brunt of this injustice. (It's pretty much the same thing they said last year, the year before, the year before that, etc.)

The Southeastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce is hosting a morning-long conference on tourism and the economy tomorrow. I'm guessing we'll learn that Connecticut's economy remains stable although suspect if a national recession hits (or has already hit) and that tourism is going strong, but needs more attention from the state if it is to maintain itself as a viable component to the state and local economy.

Did I miss anything?

Friday, January 11, 2008

The GOP contest....

Democrats will lay low over the first part of next week as the Republican presidential candidates move front and center.

First up...Michigan (on Tuesday) and what appears to be McCain v Romney, Part II. Despite Romney's claims that he's in it for the long haul, this is make-or-break for him. Anything less than a first place finish, and he's finished.

McCain, meanwhile, appears to be getting quite a boost from his New Hampshire victory, rising steadily in state polls of upcoming primary and caucus states -- unlike Iowa caucus winner Mike Huckabee who got no boost from his victory.

Fred Thompson is also on the edge like Romney, with his Waterloo being the South Carolina primary later. Thompson put in a strong performance at Thursday's debate in South Carolina -- but the latest polls (done before the debate) have him in fourth place.

He needs to convert these last two debate performances into votes - - and better finishes, otherwise he's gone after South Carolina.

And word from the AP is that Rudy Giuliani's top campaign folks are working this month with no pay. That typically means the campaign is running into financial problems -- but campaign officials say they have plenty. Giuliani is holding back from these early contests, looking to make Florida his stand.

And finally, Mike Huckabee, the Iowa caucus winner, has pretty much drifted out of sight since Iowa. It's unlikely Michigan will give him much of a boost back to center stage, making South Carolina a critical stop for him.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Looking beyond the primaries....

There is continued speculation that New York billionaire Mayor Mike Bloomberg will launch a third party presidential bid in the fall.

An AP-Yahoo News survey taken a month ago, said a third of voters would seriously consider voting for a third-party candidate. That includes 26 percent of Democrats, 31 percent of Republicans and 49 percent of independents.

In a year with so many firsts, first black, woman, hispanic running for president....could this also be the first time a third party candidate actually becomes a viable force in the presidential races?

And now its down to three...

As wtfdnucsailor noted in his most recent comment, Bill Richardson has dropped out of the presidential race according to the Associated Press, opting not to stay in through the Nevada caucus, the next Democratic contest. (The Dems are competing in Michigan because of strong influence of the national party to punish Michigan for violting party rules).

I will admit I am not surprised that Richardson opted out, but I am surprised that he opted out before Nevada -- the first Western State to vote and probably his best chance to shine. Granted, a third place finish there isn't that much better than his two fourth place finishes, but Obama wasn't necessarily planning a strong push in Nevada which could have helped Richardson do better. That is, Obama wasn't planning that until New Hampshire and now the major Nevada union representing casino workers throwing their support to his cause.

No proof...but I suspect Richardson, who urrged his Iowa supporters to back Obama if they were deemed unviable at any of the caucus gatherings (much to the anger of Clinton), has probably made his deal with the Obama camp -- and he's getting out of the way in order to give Obama a better shot at beating Clinton there.

Just a guess...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New Hampshire's aftermath

It was certainly a surprise on the Democratic side, especially given the polling numbers -- both independent and the candidates' own internal polls suggesting Obama would win easily.

But in reality, Clinton's win doesn't have that big an impact, other than it takes her out of the pressure cooker a bit. Both she and Obama each received nine delegates -- so that was a wash. Both she and Obama are looking towards Feb. 5 as the big showdown, so neither of them is going anywhere.

What New Hampshire does do is put more pressure on Edwards and Richardson to gt out of the race -- and out of their way. And since both are leaning towards supporting Obama, it gives Obama the motivation to make a deal with both to get them out...and on his team. But not until after Nevada for richardson, and South Carolina for Edwards.

On the Republican side....McCain v. Romney, Part II, comes up next week in Michigan.. It's do-or-die time for Romney....he can't afford to lose three in a row, and especially bakc-to-back losses in his "home" state."

Huckabee puts his focus primarily on South Carolina and will camp out there waiting for the winner of Michigan. Thompson....not sure where he's camping out...or for houw much longer.

And then of course, Rudy is still soaking up the sun in Florida waiting for the rest of the field to come on down and play.

Monday, January 07, 2008

An update of sorts... wtfdnucsailor....not sure why you couldn't find the Sunday editorial or the Sunday Hackett on Politics column on our Web site, but I did mention to our Web folks...and it should be available sometime later today. Thanks for the interest...

And update on my status.

As many of you have obviously noticed, my activity on this blog has been spotty at best in recent weeks. There are lot of reasons for that -- the holidays, vacation time, etc. But the main reason has been I've been very busy with my work as the acting editorial page editor at the paper. It is a bit more time consuming than when I was just a reporter, and when the holidays and vacations came around, I still needed to put out a week's worth of editorial pages even if I wasn't actually working. (So these last couple of weeks meant cramming seven days of work into three days.)

I was named acting editorial page editor back on Labor Day when Fran Kefalas left us on maternity leave. She was due back at the end of the year, but opted instead not to return to the paper.

As of this morning, I have been named the new editorial page editor - my new , full-time job here at the Norwich Bulletin. I have enjoyed these past four months, and I am looking forward to continuing in this position.

I will continue to write the weekly political column in the Sunday paper, and I will continue with this blog. It is my hope that I can get into a routine where I dedicate some small portion of my work day to making entries here...and I look forward to your comments.

So...who wants to predict Tuesday's outcome in New Hampshire?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Dodd's returning home

It was not a pretty picture coming out of Iowa for Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, and he wasted little time in folding up the tents and ending his run.

For the Democrats, the next few contestswould appear to be the jockeying as they make their way towards the big Feb. 5 showdown.

But for it's getting interesting.

For more on that, may I recommend this Sunday's Hackett on Politics column in the Norwich Bulletin

Thursday, January 03, 2008

It's a numbers game...

That's what Iowa is all about....numbers. Getting your supporters out to the caucuses tonight is the only thing that matters. The candidate who is most successful in getting the most supporters out, wins. It really doesn't get any simplier.

For Connecticut Sen. Christopher J. Dodd...there are two numbers for him. They are 4 and 6.

Six is where he's at right now in the polls (out of eight Democrats)....

And four is where he needs to be tonght when the votes are counted.

I wouldn't be surprised if he comes in less than four if drops out....nor will I be surprised if he decide to keep the campaign alive at least through New Hampshire. He is the only New Englander in the race...and considering the amount of time, energy and passion he's put into this...I won't be surprised if he wants that chance for the last hurrah....New Hampshire....before making the decision to end the race.

And I'm not really sure if this is an omen or not...but I couldn't help but notice in yesterday's lottery to pick candidate position on the Feb. 5 Connecticut primary ballot....Dodd ended up 6th.