Weekend update: I received a call Friday afternoon from Congressman Jim Himes who left a message explaining that I was ahead of myself the other day when I questioned the whereabouts of the dough to replace the Congress Street Bridge which candidate Himes used in 2008 to highlight the city’s infrastructure woes.
Mea culpa noted here. The congressman and Mayor Bill Finch have scheduled a news conference for Monday morning at the foot of the bridge to announce the money has been secured to take it down. Himes noted that he’s spent a lot of time working to nail down funding for demolition. So kudos to Himes.
What’s the timeline for removal and replacement? Well, taking down the stuck-open bridge that had connected downtown with the East Side is a good start. More details coming on Monday.
News release from the congressman:
Himes Secures an Additional $8.5 million for Local Transportation, Education, and Public Safety Projects
WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) has secured an additional $8.5 million for federal investment in local projects with the passage of a comprehensive agreement between the United States House and Senate on remaining 2010 fiscal year spending bills. The bill passed the House yesterday and is expected to be taken up by the Senate over the weekend. The Consolidated Appropriations Act combines the appropriations bills for the Departments of Transportation, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Education, Health and Human Services, and Commerce and the agencies related to spending in the areas of commerce, justice, science, military construction, financial services, and state and foreign operations.
“This funding for local community projects creates jobs and helps make our communities even better places to live, work, and raise a family,” said Congressman Himes. “These investments are an essential piece of my effort to turn the economy around and put us on a path toward economic stability.”
The Consolidated Appropriations Act increases funding for infrastructure, health, and education to create jobs immediately while investing in our local communities and workforce for the long term. It invests $1.4 billion in training and support services for workers impacted by mass layoffs and plant closures. To support small businesses – the engines of job growth in this country – it provides additional lending funds for firms having trouble borrowing capital in this market.
As part of our commitment to our veterans, this bill increases funding for services to the men and women who served our country–including increases for mental health services, health care in rural areas, and assistance to homeless veterans. It boosts funding for military construction in order to make sure our troops have all of the facilities they need to help keep our country safe. It also provides increased funding for state and local law enforcement to keep our communities safe here at home.
Local investments are listed below. For more information on individual projects, click here. The Congressman will hold local events highlighting the impact of key projects in coming months.
$500,000 for the Demolition of Congress Street Bridge
$2,435,000 for the Bridgeport Intermodal Transportation Center
$2,000,000 for the Stamford Urban Transitway
$250,000 for the construction of an affordable housing development
$175,000 for In-Car Camera Technology Upgrade
State of CT, Dept of Public Safety
$900,000 for Family Re-Entry, Fresh Start Re-Entry Program
$500,000 for the Courage to Speak Foundation
$350,000 for the Lighthouse Afterschool Program
$700,000 for ABCD for its Total Learning Initiative
$100,000 for Voices of 9/11
New Canaan, CT
$325,000 for Bridgeport Hospital facilities and equipment
Okay class, the jockeying has begun for president of the Board of Education and three candidates are in play.
Veteran board members Bobby Simmons and Barbara Bellinger are involved in a three-way split with newcomer Leticia Colon who is Mayor Bill Finch’s first choice. Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa likes Simmons. Bellinger is a retired vice president of People’s Bank who has long been involved in a variety of city affairs.
The nine-member board is scheduled to choose officers Monday night. Could former City Councilman Pat Crossin step up as a compromise candidate? The mayor is looking to exert more control over the BOE, especially with the agency representing the biggest piece of the city budget with a critical budget cycle approaching. Colon is a disciple of South End District Leader Mitch Robles. Mitch and Mario haven’t been the best of buds since Mario became chair against the mayor and Mitch’s candidate nearly two years ago.
Sitting back and watching all of this is Superintendent of Schools John Ramos. What’s his future? Depends on the new BOE president.
Clean It Up
I had lunch at Two Boots on Fairfield Avenue Thursday afternoon. The city has the beginnings of a nice restaurant district that includes Two Boots, Épernay Bistro, Café Roma and Joseph’s Steakhouse. But that piece of downtown north of Fairfield Avenue on Main Street up to the connector/Bull’s Head is a mess. Not all of it, but most of it. The Shehan Center is nice, a couple of other buildings renovated, but in between so much of it is crap. And it’s been that way for how many decades? Why not condemn most of it, demolish it and make it development friendly. Yeah I know, lots of money is involved. And what do you do with the old Poli and Majestic theater? Well, why not start with the buildings that provide the least point of resistance?
I asked Nancy Hadley, former development director for the city, to provide some background and update regarding downtown properties. Nancy (thank you) writes …
1. The Ganim Administration used eminent domain and purchased most of the eastern side of Main Street, south of the Sheehan Center and Elderly housing for about $5 million in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Purpose was to replace the court facility on Golden Hill. The design was to be a court facility similar in size and shape to the Meriden State court complex. The buildings were to be two story spread out over that acreage. They then waited in the queue for the Court Administrator to decide it was Bridgeport’s turn for the design and construction money.
2. The Ganim Administration and BRBC Foundation conducted an RFP in 2002 – 2003 for the development of fifteen (15) of those properties on the eastern side of Main Street. Several developers responded. Eric Anderson/Urban Green Builders was chosen and approved by City Council.
3. The Arcade on Main Street was part of that RFP. The rest of the 14 properties assigned to Urban Green are on the eastern side of the street where Golden Hill and Main Street intersect.
4. In 2004 the Fabrizi Administration arrived. The Urban Land Institute was brought in to help figure out what Bridgeport needed to do to grow its tax base and strengthen its economic development future. The ULI report (www.bridgeportmasterplan.com) basically said that Bridgeport’s economic development and land use policies sucked and were detrimental to investment in the downtown. On the parking issue, over 11,000 parking spaces existed in the downtown in a hodgepodge collection of private lots and structures. The zoning regs required the development of an additional 1.5 parking spaces per one unit of residential/commercial. The development costs and cost of financing versus the market rents or sales prices left a huge gap if the developer needed to include that high level of parking. The state delegation couldn’t seem to get Bridgeport money from Hartford to fill the construction gap like was being done in New Haven, Hartford and Stamford. Bridgeport’s zoning regs made absolutely no sense.
5. They needed a complete overhaul to instill confidence that ‘pay to play’ was over.
6. Over $1 million was appropriated by the City in 2005 to do a complete comprehensive overhaul of the city’s master plan, economic development strategy, housing policy, zoning map and zoning regs. Neighborhood Revitalization Zones and a Downtown Task Force began their work to hit this issue from the macro level down to the neighborhood level and from the bottom up.
7. In 2005, while all this zoning rewrite stuff was going on, Eric Anderson got to work on the Arcade and decided to focus on buying the only two properties in the downtown that had their own structured parking; the City Trust block and 144 Golden Hill at the corner of Main Street. City Trust had a structured garage off John and Bank Street. 144 Golden Hill had a structured parking level off Golden Hill. Those three properties didn’t need additional parking to get a building permit. Remember, two of those three properties were outside the RFP. They had a shot at financing because they didn’t need additional parking. So, Eric Anderson got going while he was waiting for the City to fix its nutty land use policies and regs.
8. Fast forward five years later:
a. Eric Anderson and his partner Martin Ginsberg have completed the $32 million historic restoration of The Arcade. US BanCorp based in St Louis Missouri invested using New Markets Tax Credits, Historic Tax Credits and $2.1 million from the State Bond Commission (note: the State’s investment was less than 10% of the Total Development Cost). Result: 23 apartments are fully occupied. The Main Street Pharmacy opened last week. The Pharmacy is now open and will deliver anywhere in Bridgeport. The Arcade Bar and Grill will open soon. The Arcade is now in lease-up. 144 Golden Hill is part of that financing package. The 44 apartments are 95% rented and the office space is now fully rented. The street level retail space is in rent-up. Come downtown and take a walk in the Arcade. It will knock your socks off.
b. Eric Anderson and his partner Martin Ginsberg have completed the $45 million first phase of The City Trust Block historic restoration. The City Trust and Liberty Bank buildings are open with a new glass atrium connecting the two. Wachovia Bank based in North Carolina invested using New Markets Tax Credits, Historic Tax Credits and $3 million from the State Bond Commission (note: again, the State’s investment was less than 10% of the Total Development Cost). Result: 117 apartments over 95% occupied. The new restaurant, Amici Miei and CitiBank is in full operation. Tenants get room service!! Downtown now has an all-season patio. I am proud of living downtown. In the past 2 ½ years my electric including heat bill hasn’t gone over $80 per month thanks to the geo-thermal wells. Can’t beat that!
c. The remaining 14 properties on the eastern side of Main Street have been waiting for the final approval of the new zoning map and regs so the Downtown Village District regs become operational. Among many great things in that new DVD zone, the parking requirement will be reduced officially to 0.5:1 plus incentives to bring the parking requirement down to 0.2:1. No financing institution in their right mind would finance a new deal without the new zoning in place. Who thought that the PZC would take four long years to do what ULI recommended? I know I didn’t. I didn’t want those 14 RFP properties developed with a 1.5:1 parking requirement despite what the 2002 RFP stated. A sea of parking garages is not what Bridgeport’s downtown needs. We are a transit-oriented city. We need to act like it. So, the new regs take effect Jan 1, 2010. A subcommittee of the Downtown Task Force is now working with OPED to put together the draft ordinances that need to be passed by City Council to implement the parking/transportation mobility sections of the DVD.
d. The remaining 14 properties on the east side of Main Street have also been waiting for CHFA, GE MONEY and/or State Bond Commission action on the package. Eric Anderson and his partner/ investors have been in a bureaucratic and political struggle for three years trying to get to a pro-forma that makes sense. Earlier this summer, the latest round of CHFA financing awarded four projects in Stamford, one in Meriden and one in Avon. Shortly after that meeting, CHFA started to process the Downtown North project paperwork in earnest. CHFA also finally awarded almost all of the $25 million in GE MONEY investment that had been sitting there for over two years. They funded two important Bridgeport projects, the Kuchma half constructed mixed-use building on the corner of Fairfield and Lafayette, and 333 State Street, the abandoned hulk at the entrance to Housatonic Community College. Great that CHFA finally decided to fund those two projects but the original deal was that $25 million from GE MONEY was going to be matched by $25 million from the State so Bridgeport could do $50 million in gap filling for downtown projects that would increase the tax base. No, that isn’t what happened but my mom taught me that beggars can’t be choosers.
Back to Main Street. They are still waiting for the gap filling financing assistance from the State. The marketing of the retail space at 144 Golden Hill at the corner of Main Street is very difficult with the crap that is on the other side of the street. I walk my dog up and down Main Street every day. I hate that side of the street.
Eric Anderson and Urban Green’s vision, bullheadedness, and force of nature brought City Trust, Arcade and 144 Golden Hill to reality. He has the biggest stake (around $80+ million with $5.1 million of state bonding to fill the gap) on the success of the eastern side of Main Street. It is Eric Anderson’s signature that is on the financing of City Trust, Arcade and 144. Look, I’m happy that the State just helped Stamford’s General Re, Hartford’s United Health Care and now Starwood Hotels in their efforts to move from White Plains to Stamford. The State helped them with tens of millions of dollars of state bond money. In my opinion it is way past time to help Bridgeport over the tipping point. Why fund $15 million for another juvenile detention center that does nothing for the tax base? I am all for finding $2 million in bond money to knock down the Congress Street Bridge but I want the projects that grow the tax base funded with bond money before they spend another $40+million to build a new Congress Street Bridge. REALLY! Fund the projects that the City wants and desperately needs that supports their sustainable/smart growth land use policies to grow the tax base and add jobs? As far as I am concerned there have been lots and lots of plans for Bridgeport’s developments (Magic Johnson, World Trade Center et al.) but it has been Ernie Trefz, Eric Anderson, Phil Kuchma and Mr. Carson at the former People’s Bank that have put their money where their mouths are and done something really incredible to help Bridgeport’s downtown. The eastern side of Main Street is waiting for the State to do their part.
9. What about the other properties that are not in the Urban Green Downtown North bundle? The balance that was supposed to be for that new State court house complex? I am told that the money that the State had appropriated to design the new court house complex was transferred to handle the overruns at the Juvenile Court and Detention center on Water Street. So, no design money and the properties, all owned by the city, are sitting there waiting for the State to agree to partner just like they have done in Stamford, New Haven and Hartford.
10. I think the DSSD has asked the Mayor to help demolish some of the buildings that are too far gone. I am not sure of the status but I think there is movement to clean that area up while we are waiting for the zoning and the state financing to happen.
11. As for the Poli and Magestic. Leave them just the way they are for now. There isn’t money and there isn’t a market.
12. As for the consolidation of city offices? Absolutely essential but instead of building a new government center with bond money, use the lease of the city offices as the catalyst for a private developer to attract financing to build a building that would house government offices as well as private uses. Again it’s all about growing the tax base and get more foot traffic in the downtown.
Lori’s Loot, From The Hartford Courant
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport in 2004 quietly paid tens of thousands of dollars to two men who claimed they were abused as teenagers by the second-highest ranking member of the diocese and another priest who now serves as pastor of a Greenwich parish.
In exchange for $20,000 payments, the two men agreed not to sue the diocese or the two priests — Monsignor William Genuario, who was vicar general of the Bridgeport diocese for nine years and remains a priest in good standing, and Monsignor Frank Wissel, pastor at St. Mary Parish in Greenwich and founder of a home for underprivileged boys in Bridgeport.
In a two-page settlement, a copy of which was obtained by The Courant, the diocese agreed to settled the “disputed claims” in order to avoid “the inconvenience, expense and uncertainty of litigation.” But Wissel on Thursday said that he was surprised to hear that the diocese paid any money for claims against him and that the allegations were “completely false.”
Michael Dolan, attorney for the diocese, wrote then that the $20,000 payments were designed to cover three years of weekly counseling and therapy for the men, at $125 a session. Nine days after signing the agreement, their checks — signed by Bishop William Lori — were issued.
The allegations make Genuario, who has been accused by victims of failing to act firmly on abuse complaints against other priests, the highest-ranking member of any diocese in Connecticut to be accused of abuse. They also raise questions about Lori’s handling of complaints and his assurance that all credibly accused priests were relieved of priestly duties.
Minneapolis attorney Jeffrey Anderson, who represents both victims, said Thursday they were shocked to learn that both Genuario and Wissel are still active in the ministry. He said the men were led to believe by church officials that wouldn’t be the case.
Get Your Bids In
The state needs moolah so the governor wants to sell off a bunch of properties including three parcels in Bridgeport. Hey, why not include the property on Virginia Avenue slated for a juvenile detention center? News release from the governor:
Governor Rell Identifies First Round of State Assets to Be Sold to Raise Cash
Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced the first round of state assets to be offered for sale in an effort to meet budget requirements and reduce the current budget deficit – a list that includes the Seaside Regional Center in Waterford and the former Nathan Hale Hotel site in Willimantic.
Other surplus properties the state plans to sell include a building at 7 North Street in Litchfield, the Bristol Armory and numerous small plots owned by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
The budget approved by the Legislature in September calls for raising $15 million from the sale of state assets in the first year of the budget and $45 million in Fiscal 2011. The budget does not identify the properties to be sold, leaving it to the Rell Administration to develop a list of surplus assets.
“This is a chance for the state to realize much-needed revenues and for residents, developers and others to buy prime property and other assets,” Governor Rell said. “These properties range from an outstanding waterfront location to dozens of spots owned by the DOT across the state. We must do all in our power to meet the goals of the budget and reduce the current-year budget deficit. Selling these parcels will bring in cash for the state without adding to the burdens on taxpayers or employers.
“The new budget passed by the Legislature has been in effect just a few short months but is already millions of dollars out of balance,” the Governor said. “My hope is that these asset sales will help prevent that problem from growing any worse – and perhaps even help to turn it around.
“This is only the first list of assets we intend to sell,” Governor Rell said. “We also have a special Web site – www.ct-surplus-property.com – where people can get all the details on the property, including information on how to make a bid. As we complete the appraisals and other technical details necessary to make additional state-owned assets ready for sale, more properties will be coming on the market in early 2010.”
The first list of assets to be sold includes:
•Seaside Regional Center, Waterford: Originally opened in the 1930s as the Seaside Sanitarium, it was reopened in 1959 as the Seaside Geriatric Center and redesignated in 1961 as the Seaside Center for the Mentally Retarded. Closed in 1996, it is a beachfront property near New London on Long Island Sound.
•Nathan Hale Hall (formerly the Nathan Hale Hotel), Willimantic: The building was built as a hotel in 1926 and converted to a college dormitory in 1969. It has been closed since 2001.
•7 North Street, Litchfield: This building is known as the old Litchfield Jail. Portions of the structure date to 1812.
•Bristol Armory, Bristol: Built in 1928, this is one of nearly 20 armories located around the state. The Military Department has indicated that as a result of its budget reduction plan and current force structure it no longer needs this armory.
•DOT properties: The DOT has identified more than 40 parcels of land – ranging from more than 2 acres in New Milford to as small a plot as 0.12 acres in Montville – that it is ready to sell. Additional parcels of DOT-owned land are expected to be offered in future rounds of asset sales.
Last week, the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) auctioned off surplus state heavy equipment, raising $432,900 on the sale of 202 items. The largest sale was a John Deere 544E Loader, which brought $17,750. In 2009, DAS has also five auctions of surplus automobiles, raising nearly $2.6 million.
A list of DOT properties to be sold is attached.
Hebron Rd – 1.17 acres
Albermarle Road – 0.58 acres
Albermarle Road – 0.48 acres
Central/Asher – 0.13 acres
Central/Gorham/Asher – 1.14 acres
Charter Avenue – 0.14 acres
Charter/Central/Asher – 0.44 acres
Charter/Central/Asher – 0.76 acres
Douglas Street – 0.25 acres
Gorham/Hillcrest/Asher – 0.45 acres
Gorham/Hillcrest/Asher – 1.39 acres
Hillcrest/Asher/Taft – 0.48 acres
Hillcrest/Asher/Taft – 1.28 acres
Maplewood Avenue 0.15 acres
Taft/Asher/Albermarle – 0.60 acres
Bozrah St Ext – 0.27 acres
Bozrah St Ext – 0.54 acres
Daisy Court – 0.07 acres
Myrtle Ave – 0.18 acres
West Ave – 0.21 acres
Route 31 – 0.63 acres
Division St – 0.20 acres
Route 77/Mica Hill – 0.52 acres
North-East Side of Route 2 – 1.65 acres
North-East Side of Route 2 near Willowbrook – 0.21 acres
Route 59 – 0.15 acres
Route 32 – 0.20 acres
Route 32 – 0.50 acres
Ferris Dr – 0.54 acres
Route 630/Preston Rd – 0.23 acres
Route 184 – 0.31 acres
Old Chester Rd – 1.37 acres
Route 138 – 0.31 acres
1080 Bridgeport Ave – 0.46 acres
2 Pearl Hill St – 0.15 acres
North-East Side of Clark St – 0.44 acres
Route 32 – 0.12 acres
Maple Hill Ave (east side) @ Robbins Ave (south side) – 0.49 acres
376 Danbury Rd – 2.18 acres
Route 7 @ Elm St – 0.09 acres
Martin Luther King – 0.13 acres
Essex Rd – 0.65 acres
Route 2/Ross Rd – 1.92 acres
Sayle Ave – 1.80 acres
Oakdale Rd – 0.16 acres
John Fitch Blvd – 0.04 acres
I-395 – 0.54 acres
Route 8 – 0.35 acres
Route 111/15 – 1.66 acres
Route 30 – Hartford Tpke – 0.57 acres
Austin Rd – 0.11 acres
Dayton Rd – 0.32 acres
Vauxhall St Ext – 0.14 acres
461 North Main St – 0.33 acres
Lee Lane – 0.36 acres
News release from Barnum Museum
A Tradition continues … the annual reading of “The Night Before Christmas” by Mayor Bill Finch’s wife
Tuesday at The Barnum Museum
On Tuesday, December 15 at 11:00 a.m., Sonya Finch, wife of the Mayor of Bridgeport Bill Finch, will continue the time honored tradition at the Barnum Museum of reading “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore to children from the Housatonic Community College Early Childhood Lab School. Mrs. Finch has extended an invitation the general public to bring their young children for this special occasion.
The museum is decorated now through January 9, 2010 with the fantastic “Celebrate the Season” displays that interpret the evolution of the Christmas season. The period rooms are decorated for the holidays in styles reflective of the 19th Century, detailing how Christmas actually came to be a tradition in American society. Trees of various styles are representative of a range of years from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
What: Sonya Finch reads a holiday classic tale to children
When: Tuesday, December 15 at 11:00 a.m.
Where: The Barnum Museum, 820 Main Street, Bridgeport, CT 203-331-1104 Cost: Adults: $7, Seniors and college students: $5, Children 4 – 17: $4, Under 4: Free. The reading and tours of the Victorian displays are free with General Admission.
Regular Barnum Museum Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.,
Sunday, Noon – 4:30 p.m.
News release from Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition
Bridgeport Residents Share Their Pain
“Feel our pain,” Bridgeport residents told their legislators. Intent on describing the problems they confront in their daily lives, Bridgeport residents faced their legislators at the annual Bridgeport Children’s Issues Forum.
The Forum was presented by Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition, BCAC. It was held December 8, 2009, at Mount Aery Baptist Church in Bridgeport.
More than 100 people attended the Forum. Five of Bridgeport’s 8 legislators were present: Rep. Andres Ayala, Rep. Chris Caruso, Senator Ed Gomes, Rep. Auden Grogins, and Rep. Jack Hennessy.
This annual forum is an opportunity for Bridgeport legislators to report on the outlook at the state level and discuss what they will do to support Bridgeport’s children and families. It is also a time for community members to demonstrate their support for the critical issues affecting children and families.
This year’s discussion focused on major topics in education, health care, and safety net. The state budget and plans for the budget deficit mitigation were hot topics as well.
BCAC Chairwoman Frances Newby told the attendees, “The Forum presents an opportunity for legislators to commit to actively working together – as they did last year – to improve education, health care and safety net services for Bridgeport’s children.”
Newby welcomed the legislators and the audience members. Rev. Anthony Bennett, past chair of BCAC and pastor of Mount Aery Baptist Church, also welcomed participants.
Barbara Edinberg, Acting Director of BCAC, said, “Tomorrow is the Appropriations Committee hearing on the deficit mitigation plan. It is more important than ever that we keep the issues so important to children on the radar screen and that we protect critically needed health, early care, education, and safety net services for struggling families.”
Edinberg concluded, “The state cannot afford to be short-sighted – cutting may save some dollars today but we will pay in the long-term.”
After introductions, audience members who sat in five circles of around two dozen people each, devoted fifteen minute time segments to discussion with one of the legislators. Each time segment was devoted to one of the priority issues. Audience members shared their personal stories of hardship with the legislators.
One woman from Bridgeport described the suffering in her family since her husband lost his job last year. With the job loss, the family also lost health insurance. Now the family has to decide whether a visit to the doctor is important enough to risk getting behind on rent. She asked, “What do we do if one of us gets really sick? Will the emergency room be able to take care of us?”
Other parents and grandparents in the room asked legislators about funding for schools to help reduce overcrowding in classrooms. The legislators agreed to meet as a delegation to advocate for increased funding for Priority School Districts which include Bridgeport.
Still other participants talked about losing their jobs and needing to apply for state assistance for the first time.
All legislators present committed to meeting with the legislative leadership to prioritize budget cuts and try to minimize the impact on children.
The state budget deficit weighed heavily on the minds of legislators and audience members alike. The legislators said they welcomed input from parents and other community members as they face difficult decisions.
Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition (BCAC) is a coalition of organizations, parents, and other concerned individuals committed to improving the well-being of Bridgeport’s children through research, advocacy, community education and mobilization.
From Linda McMahon’s campaign:
Linda’s upstart campaign to end business as usual in Washington and put people back to work is gaining momentum, and it is being fueled equally by growing support among Connecticut voters and impressive reviews by state and national political analysts.
Ten days after announcing 22 first-round endorsements, Linda today released a second round. We are thrilled to announce the support of four Greenwich Republican leaders:
•Peter Tesei, Greenwich First Selectman
•Tod Laudonia, Greenwich Tax Collector
•Dave Theis, Greenwich Board of Selectmen
•Peter Crumbine, Former Greenwich Selectman
As GOP leaders and activists across Connecticut continue to gravitate toward Linda, her growing momentum is reflected in public polling. The latest Rasmussen Reports Poll shows Linda has increased her lead over Chris Dodd, and now leads him 44% to 38%.
Linda’s momentum is being noticed by national media. FOX News’ Sean Hannity this week remarked on his show: “She’s outpolling Dodd.” Pollster Frank Luntz responded, “She’s going to do a smackdown” on Dodd.
Respected publications in Washington D.C., this week made clear her campaign is the one to watch. “She’s got the right stuff,” reports National Journal adding that “the first-time candidate is getting good reviews.” The Hill reports that Linda “is quickly becoming the frontrunner in Connecticut’s GOP Senate primary.” And despite Rob Simmons’s non-stop, shameless, negative attacks on Linda, respected Washington Post analyst Chris Cillizza believes Linda will be “hard to caricature.”
Meantime, there are signs that Rob Simmons’ vote-getting effort to redefine himself as a conservative may be floundering. Columnist Amanda Carpenter this week let the cat out of the bag regarding one of the worst-kept secrets among conservatives both in Connecticut and nationally: Simmons isn’t who he claims to be.
In a blurb titled, “Tea Party poser?” Carpenter writes in The Washington Times: “… past positions may come back to haunt Rob Simmons in the Republican primary against Linda McMahon. Mr. Simmons has modeled himself as a movement conservative, even brandishing tea bags and a copy of his pocket Constitution during stump speeches, but his voting record as a member of Congress will give the ‘tea party’ crowd pause.”
Carpenter goes on: “As a member of Congress, Mr. Simmons was a co-sponsor of the House’s ‘cap and trade’ bill and the Employee Free Choice Act, called ‘card check’ by its opponents. These two pieces of legislation are vehemently opposed by the free-marketers who drive the tea party movement.”
Today, as national news outlets report Congress is set to increase the federal debt limit by an astonishing $1.8 trillion, many fiscal conservatives are no doubt troubled to learn that Rob Simmons twice voted to raise the federal debt ceiling — once by $450 billion and once by $800 billion.
Linda’s consistent and principled opposition to job-killing initiatives like Card Check and federal debt increases is bringing into focus the clear contrast between her and her opponents.