Four years ago at this time when Ned Lamont was a dot on the public radar screen, Joe Lieberman seemed like a lock to be the Democratic standard bearer for U.S senate.
But when you scratched the surface, the seething serial Democratic primary voters wanted to rip out Joe’s throat. I’m talking about anti-war advocates, ultra-liberals, union leaders, teachers, college professors, new young voters. Joe had contracted mad GOP disease. Translation: I’m smart and you’re stupid. Even Joe’s closest friends had wondered if Carl Rove had slipped him an inoperable mickey.
Lowell Weicker, former U.S. senator, former governor, announced if no one steps up against Joe, I will. Ned stepped up with his pocketbook, and with a bunch of pissed-off Dems (paging friends at www.myleftnutmeg.com) launched shoeless Joe into retirement, or so we thought.
But then the entire state GOP political establishment (paging Jodi Rell, paging Chris Shays, paging Rob Simmons and a whole bunch more) performed a historic tank job on the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Alan Schlesinger in favor of Dem-turned-indie Lieberman who won the general election and promptly jammed his middle finger into the face of Connecticut’s electorate. I love George Bush, I love John McCain, yadda, yadda. (Now that George is gone and McCain got croaked, Joe’s spewing, in a fit of DC whiplash, I love Barack.)
I’m not yet prepared to say that Chris Dodd is vulnerable in a Democratic primary because I don’t know anyone than can finance a $10 million campaign, but he’s in bad enough shape–mostly through his own doing–that an unknown Dem from Mystic Merrick Alpert who’s worked on a variety of state and national campaigns, started a medical software company, served in the Air Force in Bosnia–has stepped up to challenge Dodd. I won’t get into Alpert’s background, plenty enough at www.merrickforachange.com.
Connecticut’s senior senator’s historic relationship with progressives is far better than Lieberman’s, but is Dodd as strong as Lieberman’s general election appeal? If not, how to correct that?
That’s what Dodd’s young-gun campaign manager Jay Howser is trying to figure out. How to blow through a primary challenge strong enough to survive a GOP ambush from either Rob Simmons, cranky former three-term congressman from eastern Connecticut or Sam Caligiuri, state senator from Waterbury.
I don’t know either GOP candidate, but my Republican operative friends in Fairfield County say Sam’s a stronger general election candidate. Sam’s unencumbered by the ways of Washington, he’s homegrown and he’s not thinking about moving to Iowa to run for president.
So it’s a long way off, but maybe we’ll see both a Dem and GOP primary come summer 2010. Wouldn’t that be fun? If I’m Sam, I’d be saying “We need to reel in Washington (Dodd) while getting away from Washington (Simmons).”
Now, how does all of this impact the state’s largest city? Dodd is looking for friends. If he’s going to do anything for Bridgeport now is the time. As Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa pounds his veal every morning for the lunch and dinner crowd at his restaurant I gotta think he’s thinking about this. And, oh yeah, Mayor Bill Finch might be saying, “Mario put the pasta on for the macaroni. We need to talk!!!”
Zoo For You
The advance forecast for Memorial Day weekend looks sterling so you know what I say? Bring the kids to Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo right here in the magic kingdom of the Park City. Bring the grandchildren to the zoo, hey, the great-great kids if you want. (I think Andy Fardy aka Town Committee may have great-great-great grandchildren.)
At OIB we aim to please so I have some complimentary guest passes for you which allows a family of four free admission. Just email me at email@example.com and I’ll make sure the passes get in your hands. And if you cannot use them this weekend, no sweat they’re good through the end of the year.
Take advantage of this because you never know who you’ll run into at the zoo. Maybe your favorite local Dem schmoozing a donkey, maybe a Republican living vicariously through the tigers (the party needs a new tiger in its tank), maybe even Anna and Yahooy making peace in the gator pit. Get the red meat ready. Whatever your reason the zoo is a spectacular place managed by Zoo Director Gregg Dancho and company. www.beardsleyzoo.org