OIB column Nov. 30, 2012: Mayor Bill Finch has been mumbling the past few days about some of his political appointments derailing city progress. Yes, what if Finch bolted the ranks of the donkeys? Ciao. Sayonara. Adiós. See ya. You’re on your own. Bye bye. I’ve changed my registration to unaffiliated. He has three full years left in his second term. After the screaming headlines settle it would be a chance for him to make his own mark without the shackles of the political operatives who put him in office and remind him how he got there (not that most of them did anything for him anyway). Free at last, baby!
There’s an independent streak in Finch’s body screaming for freedom: from the gypsies, tramps and thieves in the party; from district leaders wanting jobs for their peeps; from town committee members on the political payroll coveting pay raises; from all 20 Democrats on the City Council meowing about this and that; to all the other Democrats who need fundraising support for their races; from his own political necessity to suck up to pols he’d rather avoid. Ah, he’s too far in, you claim, a slave to the process?
One of Finch’s mayoral pals, New York’s Mike Bloomberg, has been just about everything–a Democrat turned Republican to run for mayor, turned independent several years ago because, he said, it was more in line with how he governed. Shoot, Joe Lieberman, another Finch pal, lost the Democratic primary to Ned Lamont in 2006 and then won the general election on an independent line. After a career of public service Lieberman officially retires come January, his seat filled by Chris Murphy.
Ironically it was Democrat Lieberman who defeated incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker in 1988. Lowell turned around two years later and became governor on an independent line.
From 1933-57 Socialist Jasper McLevy ran Bridgeport. He had no problem working with Democrats and Republicans, but only on his terms. Think about it, if Finch itched to switch he could govern almost always on his own terms, such as they’d be. (Careful what you wish for.)
He wouldn’t have to suck up to the party politicians. He could keep the effective pols on the payroll he wants to keep on the payroll. The rest can go pound. No concern for a district leader threatening to bolt over this or that, no endorsement concerns (not that he’d have that problem) and no September primary to consider. He petitions his way onto the ballot if he seeks reelection in 2015 and takes his case to all the voters as an independent. He would have all the campaign moolah he’d need.
The prehistoric noises you just heard came from Finch’s political operatives (Lennie, stop being a jerk), but given Finch’s capricious spirit perhaps over a beverage or two by the toasty fire on Crown Street his impulses might bellow, “Yahoo baby, let’s do this!”
Will he switch? Of course not. But think about the possibilities, a mayor governing without the shackles of party regulars. In this season of peace, love and generosity, a little dreaming isn’t such a bad thing.