Laughing over lamb: Politicians crack jokes during 137th Crocodile Club meeting

Published on Friday, 31 August 2018 22:21


BRISTOL - “It’s really nice that during the middle of this heated campaign season a lot of mean stuff might get said but we’re here to laugh a little bit,” said Max Reiss, at the 137th annual meeting of the Crocodile Club.

Reiss, political reporter for NBC Connecticut, emceed the event Friday in the Lake Compounce Ballroom, where politicians gathered for an afternoon of camaraderie, light-hearted fun, and the traditional meal of lamb, fried corn, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and watermelon.

The local political tradition stemmed from an agreement made in the past between Bristol and Southington.

The original founders of Lake Compounce, the Norton Family, wanted to move the town line between Bristol and Southington, which moved the amusement park entirely in Bristol. Gad Norton, a former legislator who began the amusement park in 1846, also preferred to vote in Bristol, where he commonly traded and knew more people.

Norton got the town line moved and to thank everyone involved, he began the annual club dinner.

Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu jokingly referred to the event as “a great celebration of the liberation of this little notch of Lake Compounce from the tyranny and taxation of Southington.”

Southington Town Manager Mark Sciota countered that part of the amusement park’s ballroom was still located in his town entitling them to “less taxation, more services.”

“As a manager I’m not allowed to get involved in politics but all I can say is good luck and congratulations to all of you in November and please keep visiting this side of Lake Compounce,” he added.

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman called for a moment of silence for U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, and Larry Denardis, former congressman from Connecticut, both of whom died recently.

She called them “two men who really believed in places like this, where people can get together, joke together, laugh at each other, and at ourselves, and then go out and work together.”

Wyman said she was looking forward to her retirement from politics, which will begin on her last day in office: Jan. 9 at 10 o’clock in the morning.

“Anybody that puts their name up, if you win the primary or lose the primary, if you win or lose the election, thank you for doing it. That’s what this country is about, that’s what our state is about, people standing up and speaking out,” she said. “If you don’t agree with somebody you can always, always discuss it, agree to disagree, and then go out with each other and have a cup of coffee.”

Jennifer Nye, Republican competing against incumbent U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, this year, compared running in the first district to “being a crocodile in the Connecticut River - everybody knows you’re lost, and they all want your hide on their walls.”

The polling website “has me with less than a one percent chance of winning against John,” she said. “You know I always wanted to be in the one percent but this is not what I had in mind.”

Reiss said Larson was not present at the dinner because he was in Washington, D.C. where McCain is lying in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.

Bob Stefanowski, Republican candidate for governor, admitted when you get your party’s nomination it can be easy to become a little arrogant, but his three daughters keep him down to earth.

He described how the other night his campaign commercial came on and his oldest daughter fast forwarded through it, saying she was tired of hearing about the campaign “and by the way you notice you’ve got a little bit of makeup right there.”

Then his middle daughter said “‘you know Dad I never realized it but you don’t have an upper lip,’ and then my youngest daughter said ‘you know you actually remind me of a turtle,’” he said. “So now I get up in the morning and I’m looking in the mirror trying to define whether I’ve got an upper lip, and I’m working on my posture, but leave it to girls.”

State Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington, Stefanowski’s running mate, cited T. Clark Hull, Republican lieutenant governor in the early 1970s, as “maybe the wittiest man that I ever knew in politics.”

When asked once what he planned to do when Gov. Thomas Meskill went out of state “he said he was going to call out the militia and take that notch [north of Granby] back from Massachusetts. Now knowing about that history actually we got a good deal on that, because Massachusetts agreed to the border being a little further north than they wanted in exchange for us giving up that notch, so that was a good deal,” Markley said.

He joked that Bristol grabbing Lake Compounce from Southington was “a bad deal” and that as a Southington native being at the annual event celebrating that is “like asking the queen to light a sparkler on the Fourth of July.”

Monte Frank, petitioning candidate running for lieutenant governor, compared the two party political system to being at Ben & Jerry’s and having to choose between vanilla and chocolate.

He offered his suggestions for ice cream flavors if a Ben & Jerry’s were ever to locate in Hartford: “Kick the Can Down the Rocky Road, you enjoy it now and pay for it next year, if you can, or the year after, or maybe in 2027.”

“Or how about Budget Swirl, you don’t find out what’s in it until after you’ve paid for it, or Berry, Berry Greedy, the scooper gives you a big double dip and then you have to watch as he eats right in front of you,” he continued. “Or my favorite flavor, Half Baked, which is what this state is going to be like if we legalize recreational marijuana.”

Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol, on Friday, 31 August 2018 22:21. Updated: Friday, 31 August 2018 22:24.