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In Connecticut politics, losing can be winning

December 16, 2018

The life raft has arrived for state Rep. Melissa Ziobron, who gave up her safe seat in the House of Representative to enter a key state Senate contest, only to lose in excruciatingly close fashion.

With her loss to Democrat Norm Needleman in the 33rd District, Ziobron looked to soon be out of a political job. That was until last week when Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano, R-North Haven, announced her hiring as the Senate Republican Office’s budget director.

“As we look ahead to tackling bigger financial issues on the horizon, Melissa is the perfect candidate to assist our caucus in our efforts to move Connecticut in a new direction and bring confidence to our state,” Fasano said.

What he could have said but didn’t: “And, anyway, after Melissa stuck her neck out trying to win us a Senate seat the least we could do was find her a good paying government job paid for with tax dollars.”

Some things are left unsaid in these situations.

Republicans wanted badly to hang on to the 33rd District seat after Sen. Art Linares announced his intent not to seek re-election. Instead Linares ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for treasurer. The district includes Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

The party needed a strong candidate and Ziobron delivered. Though Needleman, a successful businessman and the first selectman of Essex, spent 400,000 of it his own money, the race was so close it required a recount. Ziobron was restricted to the 38,689 salary as a state representative, will start with a salary of 124,500 salary, a roughly 120,000.

Created in 2013, the OEC has as its stated mission coordinating and improving the various early childhood programs and components in the state to create a cohesive high-quality early childhood system. It has a staff of 124 employees and an $8.5 million budget to do this.

As for Ziobron and Ritter, it appears providing patronage for candidates who stepped up, only to be knocked down, is one thing on which there is bipartisan agreement.

Paul Choiniere is the editorial page editor.

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