On the issues, let’s go to the running mates
It’s plain that the Republican candidate for governor of Connecticut is running a disembodied, two-note campaign for election.
Bob Stefanowski’s TV ads are keeping up the drumbeat, though the money he was spurting all spring has dried to a heavy trickle, while two political action committees, which by law are prohibited contact with his campaign, are picking up the slack. Yes, it’s convenient.
His out-of-state advisers are certainly keeping the candidate on-message, as they say in Virginia and Kansas.
“Dan Malloy/Ned Lamont ... Cut taxes,” is virtually all Stefanowski says. When questioned further, he says that every other issue is peripheral to the state economy, and thus a waste of time for this corporate executive who thinks government can be run like a business, and that he can pick and choose what he wants to tell the voters.
Since he’s never run for office, Stefanowski has virtually no public-service record. After a $2.2 million loan to his campaign, Stefanowski seems reticent to invest more cash, so he’s deep into shaking the tree for contributions from Republicans who might be asking themselves how rich this great-GOP-hope actually is.
His public appearances and availability to pesky reporters have been limited to the two debates with Democrat Ned Lamont and a few brief, on-the-fly news conferences. Lamont, a traditional campaigner, does several campaign events a week and actually responds to reporters.
Lamont has experience as a Greenwich selectman, the town finance board and the state pension board.
He was closely vetted by reporters during the 2006 U.S. Senate race, where he beat “America’s Scold,” U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary before losing in the fall, when the Scold ran as an independent. Lamont was also scrutinized during his 2010 primary run for governor, won by Malloy.
Lamont is regularly in the field with Susan Bysiewicz, his lieutenant governor running mate from Middletown, who has been a member of the state House of Representatives and was secretary of the state.
If they win, she’ll likely advise Lamont on legislative strategy and procedures.
Bysiewicz can be called a political opportunist. While secretary of the state in 2010, she got into some brief PR trouble after using the email address of businesses owners to dial for campaign dollars, but was found to have not broken the law.
She tried to run for attorney general in 2010, but the state Supreme Court ruled she did not have enough time practicing law. This year she was going to run for governor, but yielded to Lamont and was nominated for lieutenant governor.
If Stefanowski wins, state Sen. Joe Markley will be his number two. And since Stefanowski seems to have no opinions on anything other than “the economy,” it’s reasonable to expect that Markley, with an articulate, wicked sense of humor, a deep knowledge of history, and libertarian/ultra-con proclivities, will be Stefanowski’s top aide on everything else.
So what if “everything else” has some kind of effect on the budget and therefore the economy? Even culture wars have economic implications.
And Markley, who did not return several calls this week, has a public record.
Back in 2013, he proposed legislation that would eliminate the state mandate requiring fluoride in the public drinking water. I always think of the Sterling Hayden character of Gen. Jack D. Ripper in “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” when I think of this bill.
This year he voted against a ban on rifles with bump stocks, the kind of weapon that was used in the Las Vegas music-festival massacre.
Markley voted against a law this year that protected health benefits for hundreds of thousands of state residents in the Affordable Care Act under a Republican siege in Washington.
Markey was the lone senator to vote against the pay-equity bill, which also became law, to help women finally, maybe, get paid at the same rate as men for the same jobs.
He and four other Republican senators voted against allowing the state’s Dreamers, those foreign-born brought here illegally as kids, access to the institutional aid at state colleges that is paid for by their own fees. That also became law.
He was one of two in the Senate who voted this year against a plan for climate change resiliency.
He voted against protections for senior citizens who contract for reverse mortgages.
Markley was the lone Senate vote against the so-called affirmative consent rule — the “yes-means-yes” bill — on campus sex assault, which became law. He voted against a bill, now law, which removes firearms from gun owners who are subject to temporary restraining orders.
There are other issues that voters should be interested in as well. And for those of you who say the lieutenant governor is a mostly symbolic position whose claim to fame is presiding over the Senate, may I present to you former Gov. M. Jodi Rell?
Ken Dixon, political editor and columnist, can be reached at 860-549-4670 or at email@example.com. Visit him at twitter.com/KenDixonCT and on Facebook at kendixonct.hearst.