Okay boys and girls, get out your delegate scorecards. That’s what political operatives from the various campaign camps are doing in preparation for their respective state party conventions in a few weeks. On Monday Democratic guber candidate Ned Lamont will officially add a bunch of delegates to his list when Dem Party Chair Mario Testa and Mayor Bill Finch are scheduled to endorse him on the steps of Harding High School at noon.
Bridgeport has 77 Dem delegates to the state convention, second only to New Haven. Harding is a nice symbolic gesture for an endorsement. Oh, brother there goes Lennie again with another rant about Harding. I can’t rant about Harding enough. It’s a hellhole for kids and teachers. Ned rarely misses an opportunity to proclaim his concern for the kids he met as a volunteer teacher. I just hope Ned shows a lot more commitment (how about an outright pledge) that if he’s governor there will be, and I promise, a new Harding High School–than he did telling district leaders a casino is not a priority, but hey I’ll listen to you about it, sort of.
Look, don’t open the door unless you’re prepared to walk through it. Don’t use the school or the kids as props unless you’re prepared to take a sledgehammer to a shit-hole of a building and construct a new one. Let’s hope Ned is serious about doing something for the city. He’s going to need Bridgeport big time because he’s got a battle on his hands for both the primary and general election, if he makes it there.
Ned will take a handsome polling lead into the convention against his chief rival former Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy. Ned’s spending a fortune of his own money right now while Malloy waits for his first cash infusion, roughly $1.2 million, in public financing that he’s expected to receive shortly after the convention. From there it’s a fast blast of spending by both sides on the way to the August primary. Malloy could receive upwards of another $2 million depending on how much Ned spends. Malloy will have enough moolah to eventually cut into Ned’s polling lead and compete.
Why is the Bridgeport delegation supporting Ned? For a variety of reasons but it starts with Mario’s distaste for anything Stamford. He blames Stamford pols for blowing up a casino for the city. Talk about a long memory. But it’s more than that. As several local pols have told me and I’m paraphrasing … Lennie, we think Malloy will get the endorsement. Lennie, we think Lamont’s money will be enough to win the primary. Lennie, we think helping Ned win the primary gives us more leverage to get stuff done for the city (and a few jobs for our peeps).
Sure, if Ned wins the general election. I was excited about Ned in 2006 because he had the guts to take on Joe Lieberman who somewhere along the way attached his mouth to the exhaust of Dick Cheney’s quail-hunting truck. Against Lieberman it was all about the war. I voted for Ned in the primary. Voted for him in the general election with glee. My parents voted for Ned. My wife (wasn’t an easy sell) voted for him. I called my friends to vote for Ned. (Okay, all two of them.) Ned got his ass kicked in the general election because he didn’t know how to appeal to independent voters. Once again that will be his challenge should he get there.
Ned has a general election message problem. His message is the same as leading GOP guber candidate Tom Foley. It’s the same: I’m a business man, I know how to create jobs, vote for me. Nice and simple, right? Republicans are almost always better at making that message stick with independents who sway general elections in Connecticut.
Take Ned’s money away from Ned and what do you have? That’s why Malloy will make a race of this primary whether he receives the party convention endorsement or not. His message will appeal enough to serial primary voters to compete and he offers a contrast to the Republican: I’m not a Greenwich millionaire, I’m someone like you who embraced public service, managed a city, balanced budgets, cut taxes, reduced crime.
Malloy already has a message that appeals in a general election, and if he gets through the primary he’ll have enough in public financing to compete. Ned has to figure out a stronger general election message, otherwise what’s the point of the primary.