Chris Powell Primary results suggest Democrats may be nuttier
Which is Connecticut’s nuttier political party? Most observers might say the Republicans because of their association with President Trump, the loose cannon-in-chief. Last week’s primary results suggest otherwise.
Yes, the Republican nomination for governor went to Bob Stefanowski, a former executive for a trifecta of disreputable corporations — General Electric, which just moved its headquarters out of Connecticut; Union Bank of Switzerland, which helped the Nazis expropriate Europe, helped Long-Term Capital Management wreck the U.S. financial markets, and helped rich Americans evade taxes, for which the bank was fined $800 million; and DFC Global Corp., a payday lender in Britain.
Stefanowski, who calls himself conservative, is so conservative that until last week he had declined to vote for 16 years, donated to Democratic candidates, and two years ago switched from Republican to Democratic as he contemplated running for governor in the other party. Stefanowski’s insistence on repealing the state income tax without specifying where he would cut the equivalent half of state spending seems to have persuaded most of his supporters.
But Stefanowski received only 29 percent of the Republican primary vote and won the nomination only because the remaining field was split four ways.
Meanwhile in the Democratic primary 38 percent of the vote for lieutenant governor went to Eva Bermudez Zimmerman, a government employee union organizer who misrepresented her mediocre qualifications to be first in line of succession to the state’s highest office. Zimmerman was appointed to the Newtown town council, not elected as she claimed, was defeated for election in her own right, and ridiculously exaggerated her work as a congressional intern.
Zimmerman’s main claim on the nomination was her Hispanic ethnicity as she exploited the retrograde movement among the Democrats toward the identity politics Connecticut might have thought it overcame 50 years ago. On taxes Zimmerman was just as bonkers as Stefanowski, advocating a vague tax on “big box” stores as the solution to state government’s financial disaster. (Democrats always want more money for government but have to search for a new minority to extract it from, since they can’t persuade a majority that the revenue will help anyone but government’s own employees.)
At least Zimmerman was an insurgent. She challenged a party old-timer, former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, for whom party leaders arranged the lieutenant governor nomination in exchange for her withdrawing for governor in favor of Ned Lamont.
But to win as an insurgent in Connecticut’s Democratic Party it’s best just to pretend to be one. That’s the lesson of Jahana Hayes’ victory in the primary for U.S. representative in the 5th District.
Hayes, the former national teacher of the year from Waterbury, now living in Wolcott — a detail carefully underplayed by her campaign — is black and portrayed herself as the exemplar of the oppressed when in fact she is the exemplar of government’s occasional success in advancing the disadvantaged. With no political experience, just platitudes, she got half the vote at the party’s district convention and then the endorsement of its most influential interest groups.
Because of the insurgency buzz contrived for her, she probably will be elected and in Congress will be another vote controlled by the National Education Association, just like the retiring congresswoman she succeeds. Comes the revolution!
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.