I’ve lost track of the various candidates and potential state ticket configurations in the 24 hours since Chris Dodd’s sayonara announcement and Dick Blumenthal’s entry to fill his seat.
Will we see a Mac-Dick race come November? Probably, but politics is a weird business. Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon has an ocean of money to spend to become the GOP standard bearer to face Dick. Former Congressman Rob Simmons, the other GOP candidate in the race, will have something to say about that. Oh wait, there’s another GOP candidate, some dude named Peter Schiff out there as well. See, told ya I lost track.
How does any of this relate to Bridgeport? The state’s largest city will be a player in all of this, but how beyond electoral might is unknown. Dodd’s departure opens up another constitutional office for the asking (or is it taking?). Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa wants to leverage his delegate count to the Dem convention in May to fill one of those constitutional offices with one of his own. What’s the point of being in politics, Mario surmises, unless you can influence a state ticket. I’ve seen Mario in action plenty of times to know he’ll not be bashful in trying to position a Bridgeport-friendly candidate for a constitutional office. Former Mayor Joe Ganim became the Dem candidate for lieutenant governor in 1994, the year Republican John Rowland became governor, because of Mario’s intervention. Rowland defeated Dem guber candidate Bill Curry who’s part of the long line of Dem candidates strong in a primary futile in a general election. In fact, the last Dem to win a Connecticut guber was Bill O’Neill in 1986.
With Bloomer running for Dodd’s seat the attorney general slot is open, as well as secretary of the state with incumbent Susan Bysiewicz running for governor. Or will Suby settle for AG? But others may be in the way such as former State Senator and Dem party chief George Jepsen who also wants AG.
The current state Dem party chief who must help sort all of this out is Nancy DiNardo who knows how to break bread with Mario. I’ve had a lot of fun the past year promoting Mayor Bill Finch for CT secretary of the state. The position is a fit for Bill’s personality and interest areas. Bill never aspired to be mayor. Party regulars recruited his candidacy, fearing former Mayor John Fabrizi could not defeat State Rep. Chris Caruso, in 2007. And next year the same issue may pop up for local party regulars. Who can defeat Caruso?
Finch isn’t a chief executive; he’s a policy wonk cast into a chief executive role. More than two years into his mayoralty Finch has a lot of work to do to win reelection. Mario’s relationship with Finch is so-so. Decent some days, sucky on others. It’s hard to become buds when you’ve never been buds. Mario’s been trying to keep party peace while raising money for a potential Finch reelection run. But sometimes, when you don’t get along, it’s better to push for a promotion.
Can Finch become Dem candidate for CT secretary of the state? Doable, but doubtful. Both Mario and DiNardo would have to weigh in heavily for Finch to make that happen. Why? Because it’s not practical for Finch to move around the state working state party regulars to line up support for the endorsement. You can do that when you’re popular with local voters. Much more difficult when you’re not. Plus, even if they can land him the endorsement someone could run a primary. This budget cycle is crucial for Finch’s mayoral reelection. And now the burden is on him to find a new location for the state juvenile jail Jodi Rell wants to place in the city. He must pay attention to that or risk losing an entire city neighborhood (and possibly more) that doesn’t want it.
But there’s another way for Mario and DiNardo to help Finch. Cut a deal with a Dem guber candidate who will commit a state commissionership. Bill is not a man of wealth and he has a family to feed. He’s not like Chris Dodd who has the financial means to walk away. Bill would need to line up something.
So assuming any of this can happen who’s Mario’s guy for the future? My bet is City Council President Tom McCarthy. Big Mac and Mario get along. McCarthy is a better pol than Bill who tends to lose sight of the larger picture to satisfy his knee-jerk reactions. Bill looks good, sounds good and the soul of him is good. But electors vote on results. The mayor needs more results to win reelection. There’s still time.
Derail The Jail Vigil
With 29 days left to her marching orders, any thoughts about where to place Jodi’s detention center? The old facility on Fairfield Avenue? Incorporation into the boys facility? Housatonic Avenue? Hey, a friend suggested the other day to build it at the city-owned airport located in Stratford. I wonder how airport super John Ricci feels about that? John, you out there? Of course, there’s always Brookfield, Newtown, Chester …
From the CT Post:
BRIDGEPORT — “Derail-the-jail! Derail-the-jail!” The chanting swelled and carried for blocks along the residential street where the state plans to put a girls’ juvenile treatment and detention center.
Roughly 100 people — including leaders, area residents and their supporters from other parts of the city — held candles and signs and shook their fists in Wednesday night’s cold to send a message to state leaders: We won’t give up.
“No one should underestimate the power of the people,” said state Rep. Christopher Caruso, D-Bridgeport, addressing the crowd. “We’re tired of Bridgeport being dumped on. Now, you have to be mad. Keep fighting. If we become inactive, the governor will see that as a sign that we don’t care anymore.”
The state announced plans in November to build the 36,000-square-foot center at 115 Virginia Ave., which the state owns, unless city leaders can find another spot of at least 2.5 acres to put it.
News release from State Rep. Auden Grogins:
REP. FAWCETT AND REP. GROGINS TEAM UP TO HELP EXPAND ST. VINCENT’S CUTTING EDGE PUBLIC HEALTH PROJECT
Representative Kim Fawcett (D-Fairfield) and Representative Auden Grogins (D-Bridgeport), teamed up this week in the Appropriations Committee to help assure legislative approval of an important public health outreach project at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport.
The Research Associates Program (RAP), spearheaded by Dr. Keith Bradley, allows students interested in careers as health professionals to volunteer in the St. Vincent’s emergency room to educate and screen patients on a number of public health threats. The students are trained to interview patients and their families. They use the time spent in the waiting room to provide public health education and disease prevention information.
“This program offers the potential for large-scale public health interventions, such as initiating tobacco cessation referrals, cancer screenings, and diabetes prevention at minimal cost with a host of positive derivative benefits,” said Dr. Bradley who testified before the Appropriations Committee last Monday.
Each year the Tobacco and Health Trust Fund seeks legislative approval for the programs they support. While the St. Vincent’s program was widely praised by legislators, limited resources in the fund forced intense conversations about which programs are most effectively fulfilling their assigned mission. Representative Fawcett and Representative Grogins worked closely with Dr. Bradley over the past several months to prepare for the hearing.
“I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to advocate for a program that has a direct impact on public health in our region,” Rep. Fawcett said. “This program is seeing results and if we target these resources effectively and grow the program it becomes a win-win for us all.”
“St. Vincent’s is an important asset to Bridgeport and the region,” Representative Grogins said. “It is critical that urban and suburban legislators work as at team as our joint efforts will benefit the entire region.”
With legislative approval in place, Dr. Bradley and the Research Associates Program have a clear path to applying for additional valuable Tobacco Settlement funds to grow the program in the region and expand the model to other hospitals across the state. The money in the Tobacco and Health Trust Fund is transferred to Connecticut each year as part of the Federal Tobacco Settlement Fund and does not rely on state tax payer dollars.
“I am thankful to Representatives Fawcett and Grogins for their advocacy and willingness to fight for the RAP program. Their work will help us see these programs expand and reach more people,” Dr. Bradley added.
Rep. Fawcett represents the 133rd Assembly district in Fairfield and Westport and serves on the Appropriations, Environment, and Energy and Technology, and Transportation Committees.
Rep. Grogins represents the 129th district and serves on the Education, Government Administration and Elections, and Public Health Committees.