Strategy for primaries: Just pander

Published on Friday, 3 August 2018 19:43
Written by Chris Powell

Maybe they’re right, but from their pandering and groveling it seems that most candidates in the Democratic and Republican primaries for state ticket nominations aren’t worried about critical thinking by the voters.

Seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, zillionaire businessman Ned Lamont and Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, who says he has stopped taking bribes, are pandering and groveling for the party’s base - coddled government employees, whiny minority groups, indignant welfare recipients, and haters of gun rights and President Trump.

At a campaign forum in New Haven last week neither Lamont nor Ganim could talk back to the angry defenders of Jayson Negron, the 15-year-old car thief who, leading police in a chase, was fatally shot in Bridgeport last year as he backed into an officer with the stolen car he was driving. The boy had a hallucinogen in his blood and the state’s attorney found the shooting justified. At the forum Lamont and Ganim responded as if the boy had been innocent and the state’s attorney should have brought a murder charge against the officer who shot him. The candidates could not question the government-induced antisocial lifestyle of the urban underclass, part of the party’s base.

Last week Lamont said he wants to be Connecticut’s “education governor,” just hours after results from the latest national college readiness test showed the performance of Connecticut’s high school students declining substantially despite ever-increasing school appropriations. It was another sign that the more Connecticut spends on education, the less education it gets. An “education governor” might notice this, challenge policy premises, and hold schools and especially parents to account, not pander and grovel to those on the payroll.

Meanwhile the candidates for the Republican nomination for governor are professing loyalty to President Trump and gun owners, who are thought to constitute that party’s base. Last week former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst said he is running for governor because Connecticut needs leaders who will respect the president - as if the country doesn’t have far greater need of a president who engenders respect instead of disgust.

Westbrook state Sen. Art Linares, seeking the Republican nomination for state treasurer, is airing a commercial opposing sanctuary cities, as if the treasurer has any jurisdiction over that issue.

Former Hartford City Council President Shawn Wooden, seeking the Democratic nomination for state treasurer, is airing a commercial criticizing the state pension fund’s small investment in the gun industry, though some of that industry is based in the state and makes guns for the military. The treasurer’s office is far more concerned with state government’s finances, which are desperate, but Wooden’s ad says nothing about that problem, since addressing it requires raising taxes or cutting spending. It’s far safer to posture against guns.

Two candidates for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, Stamford state Rep. William Tong and former federal prosecutor Chris Mattei, are airing commercials promising to sue the Trump administration over national issues. But the attorney general’s main job is to represent and defend state agencies.

So where do Tong and Mattei stand on the never-ending Sheff v. O’Neill school integration lawsuit, which has cost state government more than a billion dollars without integrating even Hartford’s schools and might cost the state a billion more? Tong and Mattei say nothing about that, relevance being too risky.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Connecticut.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Column on Friday, 3 August 2018 19:43. Updated: Friday, 3 August 2018 19:45.