I chatted with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont this morning after the governor candidates’ forum at the Bridgeport Holiday Inn. I asked him to state his position with respect to a casino for the city. I had wondered if city pols, led by Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa, were pushing him to a position he didn’t want to be. Seems to me airing the casino as an issue wouldn’t do any guber contender much good given lower Fairfield County opposition and jeopardizing a state compact that gives 25 percent of slot take from the two existing casino operations.
Ned politely challenged some assertions I wrote in a column a few days ago with respect to his position. Sometimes a candidate’s public position and private feelings aren’t harmonious. Ned said a casino is “not a priority” and told Democratic district leaders as much last Thursday when he addressed them at Mario’s restaurant. Several district leaders say Mario represented that Lamont was in favor of a city casino. Lamont said look, it’s not a priority, but I would talk about it if there was a scenario that made sense.
As we chatted veteran journalist Mark Pazniokas of www.ctmirror.org strolled over. Do you support a casino for Bridgeport? Mark asked Ned.
So basically the leading Democratic contenders Lamont and former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy have the same position. It’s not a priority. Translation: it’s not an issue and don’t make it one.
Guber Line Up
First time I saw all gubernatorial candidates in one forum: Dem candidates Ned Lamont, Dan Malloy, Simsbury First Selectman Mary Glassman and Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi. Republican candidates Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele, former Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley, former Congressman Larry DeNardis, and CEO of MetroHartford Alliance Oz Griebel.
So many candidates that moderator Connecticut Post reporter Ken Dixon cracked he couldn’t wait for the state endorsement conventions next month to thin out the field. The forum was tame and candidates polite to one another with a couple of needles thrown in. Most of the candidates agreed there was plenty of blame to go around for the cause of the $4 billion deficit one on the panel will inherit. Malloy called it a bi-partisan train wreck. Foley, the leader in public opinion polls, said the problem was created by a Democratic-dominated legislature and there was an urgent need for voters to level the playing field by electing more Republicans to the legislature.
“Why don’t you run for the State House of Representatives?” Lamont cracked.
Glassman reminded Foley GOP governors have run the state for the past 16 years. Sounds like I touched a nerve, Foley responded to the incoming fire from Dems. He created some distance from Governor Jodi Rell by criticizing her for agreeing to labor pacts that provided no layoffs into 2011. That is a negotiating tool you don’t give up, he said.
Most candidates, especially the leaders, must be mindful not to piss off specific constituencies. The Dems don’t want to declare war on state unions whose support is so crucial. Republicans, on the other hand, don’t worry about the union support they’ll not receive. Of all the candidates arguably the most pointed is Boughton who’s not bashful about taking on the unions, “wacky” legislative programs and excessive spending that will require drastic change in January.
Fedele doesn’t have the luxury (not yet anyway) to blame Rell for much of anything. He has served with her for four years and wants the endorsement of a governor still enjoying public appeal.
DeNardis and Griebel come across savvy. But will they raise enough moolah to compete?
What the hell does all of this mean? Foley is the GOP frontrunner with plenty of his own dough to spend. Fedele has delegate support but is still weeks away from qualifying for public financing, although he has the ability to write his own check. Boughton, with money, would be dangerous. He’s not a man of wealth and is also relying on public financing which is a major pain in the ass to qualify for.
On the Dem side Lamont has plenty of his own loot to spend, but it appears Malloy has the lead for convention delegates. A party endorsement will provide Malloy a nice bump as he comes closer to qualifying for his own public money that will give him millions to spend.
Glassman, the only woman in the race, is impressive, but again no money. When will she qualify for public dough?
Did I miss anyone? Yes, Rudy, of course, a Dem in a Republican town, great sense of humor. How do you spell tolls? Anyway you want because it’s his one major declaration. We need electronic tolls to raise state revenue.
Keep in mind the state’s public financing system is in limbo. A federal judge ruled it unconstitutional because it places a burden on minor parties to qualify. The legislature is trying to fix it. What happens if it doesn’t get fixed?
Here’s Pazniokas’ take
Funeral services for State Rep. Chris Caruso’s mother will take place on Friday at 11 a.m. in the Abriola Parkview Funeral Home, 419 White Plains Road, Trumbull, and at 12 noon in St. Theresa Church, Trumbull. Entombment will follow in the Chapel Mausoleum of Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport. Friends may call on Thursday from 3 to 8 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or the Disabled American Veterans’ through the funeral home. To light a virtual candle, visit www.abriola.com.