Ah, what’s in your stocking this week? For Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin who’s considering a run for governor, a lump of coal from Kohut. That would be Bridgeport policy wonk Jeff Kohut, former candidate for mayor, who wants to redefine the long-standing “exploitation and neglect of our urban centers at the hands of elitist, self-serving, Gold Coast/suburban hegemonic interests that have hijacked the economic development prerogatives and prospects of the whole state” to a “new, functional power axis balancing the collective political power of Bridgeport-New Haven-Waterbury, et al. …
Many months ago, Kohut predicted on OIB that Bronin, who has a mighty background, would become a candidate for governor. Bronin has taken a first step forming an exploratory committee. Kohut, for one, is not impressed from an economic policy perspective. He sees Bronin continuing “the destructive economic development policies that favor the towns of his Gold Coast handlers at the expense of the rest of the state.” There’s nothing quite like Kokut-speak, but when it comes to ideas and policies–something sorely needed in this wide gubernatorial field–there’s no shortage, and a gripping perspective to boot, how one geographic area prospers at the expense of another.
Grab a cup of joe and check out Kohut:
For this lifelong Bridgeport resident, attempting to prognosticate the fortunes of Bridgeport and the rest of the state by way of trying to predict the distillation products of the current “mash” of announced, posturing, and potential/dark-horse gubernatorial candidates, alternates between a joyless mental excursion confined to that proverbial, feces-ridden estuary and an adrenaline-/dopamine-flooded, helmetless, full-throttle motorcycle ride on I-95 toward a return to the “streets of gold” Connecticut that drew many of our families here during the last century.
Whatever metaphors and analogies might be employed to describe the intellectual processes of electors and political handicappers pondering the choices and probable outcomes of the primary and final portions of Connecticut Gubernatorial Race 2018, the actual selection process is likely to be short and politically brutal.
The likelihood of a short, brutal election process is indicated by the obvious need of the electorate to reverse the long-standing negative economic/demographic trends of our state that have resulted from decades (post-county government) of exploitation and neglect of our urban centers at the hands of elitist, self-serving, Gold Coast/suburban hegemonic interests that have hijacked (and severely limited) the economic development prerogatives and prospects of the whole state (e.g., the loss of three major corporate entities by the state in recent months, even as the state persists in economic recession during a national economic resurgence). The people of Connecticut have no choice but to think in terms of redefining the political power structure of the state and moving the political/economic center of gravity away from the Stamford/Gold Coast-Hartford/Capital Region Power Axis and toward the major urban centers to the south and east by way of the definition of a new, functional power axis balancing the collective political power of Bridgeport-New Haven-Waterbury, et al.
In this regard, although it might be considered quite early in Connecticut Gubernatorial Contest 2018 to try to identify even likely party-primary winners, let alone the next governor of the state, the condition of the state, the mood of the people of the state, and the (largely absent) political and executive acumen, as well as the relevant baggage/backgrounds of the emergent cast of gubernatorial players, suggests that an efficient prediction of who the next governor will be, is possible.
To wit: The incredible cluelessness exhibited by the large lineup of Republican candidates in the two, recent forum debates held by that party, in which the prominent feature of the first debate was a collection of nebulous, candidate “platforms” describable (by way of two salient examples from the media coverage) in terms of “planless beancounting” and “aimless, angry, far-right rhetoric,” and, in which the second forum debate, presented as a forum on transportation solutions, could be described as a circular, rhetorical journey around a cul de sac of non-solutions located on a planless map (sans reference coordinates). And then there were the “no-shows”–who would avoid exposing their ideas to each other and the public for criticism. This “Keystone Cops” Republican candidate debut (by politically seasoned candidates) strongly suggests an efficient conclusion negating the prospects for the return of a Republican to the governor’s office in 2018. (Forget any dark-horse Republicans stealing the show–they would have to come out of the failed Connecticut GA.)
Of course, in order to logically negate the possibility of a Republican return to the Governor’s Office, the Democratic and independent/third-party possibilities must be evaluated, in context. In this regard, the money, name recognition and momentum–provided by cross-currents of national and state-based power–favor the ultimate emergence of two candidates (covering, simultaneously, the Democratic and independent/third-party prospects for governor) for what could become a very dramatic political showdown in Connecticut: Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin–the Greenwich, Gold-Coast Golden Boy who was transformed into a Hartford resident and that city’s mayor, almost literally overnight, by fellow Gold Coaster, Governor Dan Malloy (per a planned hand-off of the governorship); and Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim–Bridgeport native, long-time/multi-term Bridgeport mayor, convicted felon/seven-year federal prisoner/revenant politician, shepherded in his political career by master politician/political gamer, successful Bridgeport businessman, and Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee Chair, Mario Testa.
The Democratic Primary contest will see the remnants of the national Democratic Party “Billary Brigade” try to regroup and rally for their Greenwich-attorney Golden Boy; but with the tarnish of his godfather Dan’s failed governorship, the essential state receivership/$40 million bailout of “his” City of Hartford (by godfather Dan and the 2017 GA), and his otherwise lackluster, “$gifted$” positions in state and national government (Obama Deputy Treasury Secretary and Malloy Administration General Counsel–no doubt, by way of political $ponsor$hip), he will be confined to making his bid for the Democratic slot in the governor’s race, based, peripherally, on transparently false claims of a Hartford “turnaround” (which can only damage voters’ perceptions of his candidacy), and based mainly on attacks on the character (per the recounting of past transgressions) of his opponent, Joe Ganim–which will backfire on him in Hartford and the other urban centers/inner-ring suburbs of the state (as such attacks backfired on Ganim’s opponents during the 2015 Bridgeport mayoral race).
In this latter vein–i.e., the likely political sway of the state’s urban centers in the upcoming election–it must be realized that in this seminal, fiscal-crisis election year in Connecticut politics, the pivotal role of the cities/urban centers in the economic life of the state has finally been recognized and touted by all levels of state political and business leadership. Indeed; it was the loss of three major Connecticut corporations, within months of each other, due to the stated (by the corporate leadership) lack of healthy/vibrant urban centers and the intellectual/social capital of such (in Connecticut), that finally forced our political leadership to acknowledge the importance of cities, such as Bridgeport, even as they were forced to acknowledge decades of sin/neglect against the cities. And in a related vein, it is also of note that Republican gubernatorial candidate, State Rep. Prasad Srinivasan of Glastonbury, made it a point in the recent Republican debate to remind the electorate that he recognizes that, to the detriment of the state as a whole, most of the state is considered of secondary importance to the Gold Coast by the Gold Coast-based political/economic power structure/policy makers of the state. (Relevantly, in this regard the state transportation crisis is discussed mainly in terms of making the Stamford-bound flow of traffic faster and more efficient in order to allow for continued Stamford-area economic growth, even as cities such as Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven are given lip service in terms of their “importance.”)
Thus, in examining the roots and background of Luke Bronin, there can be no doubt but that he will continue the destructive economic development policies that favor the towns of his Gold Coast handlers at the expense of the rest of the state. He wasn’t placed in the mayoralty of intransigently sick Hartford just to fill out his resume. He owes his handlers and he is expected to maintain the status quo for them–just as godfather Dan has done even in the face of a collapsing state economy. A Bronin Administration will, at best, maintain the economically destructive status quo inherent in the maintenance of the political/economic control of the Stamford-Hartford power axis. Hartford will avoid bankruptcy–but little more–through a Gold Coast-facilitated trickle of “green” to that city, even as the costs/effects of Stamford-area growth (facilitated/accommodated by state deficit spending) continues to strangle the life out of the state economy.
From the Ganim side of the contest: It is Joe Ganim’s race to lose in this economically gyrating Connecticut of 2018. If Ganim presents a solid, credible, reassuring, jobs- and tax base-rich, urban-centric economic development plan for the state, then he gets the deciding urban/inner-ring-suburb vote. But, if Joe Ganim doesn’t come up with credible, solid, economic development plans for Bridgeport and the rest of the state–plans that have substance and appeal to all the distressed and forgotten parts of the state and which can’t but be embraced by the Connecticut GA–he will be somewhat vulnerable to attacks on his past and his character by the (still powerful, albeit politically marginalized) monied interests backing Gold Coast Golden Boy Luke Bronin. Well-financed character attacks, in the context of the lack of an exciting, credible economic-development plank in his platform, could sink Joe Ganim–especially if Gold Coast money and national political connections give Gold Coast Luke significant momentum beyond the Gold Coast and Hartford areas.
In any event, there will be a lot of political carnage within the Republican and Democratic camps during the coming weeks, with a brutal, Ganim-Bronin slugfest deciding the Democratic candidate leading up to Primary Day (August 14). After Primary Day–barring Democratic Party treachery and a rigged win by Bronin (hopefully, Ganim will secure independent/third-party eligibility in anticipation of such treachery)–the gubernatorial race will be a fait accompli, with the clear, legitimate winner of the Democratic Primary (either Luke Bronin or Joe Ganim) being the next governor.
But while most of the intense fighting will be over soon in both parties–save for the Ganim-Bronin brawl–this will not be a dull election year in Connecticut, and the stakes on the outcome of the race are huge for the urban centers and the rest of the state. Bridgeport and the other urban centers of Connecticut could be big winners (along with the rest of the state) if Joe Ganim and Mario Testa can manage another winning formula on August 14, 2018, a la their winning formula of 2015. Think of them what one might, they both know how to win elections, and they make a winning team. Given the right, competitive political environment in the context of the 2018 Connecticut gubernatorial election, they could, working with a properly assembled team, create a formula for a resurgent Connecticut economy that could put our state back in the prosperity zone once again, maybe even in time for those of us who remember such a Connecticut (and prosperous Bridgeport) to experience it once again. But one thing is for certain; a Bronin governorship will just be a continuation of the Malloy years; Connecticut simply can’t afford that.