A YOUNG UPSTART (AND CHILDISH BEHAVIOR) IN MIDDLETOWN

Municipal elections are right around the corner (Nov. 3). For many statewide political watchers, the munies can be a bit of a yawn—unless of course, it’s your town. However, the mayoral race in Middletown is breaking this general rule.

29-year old Democrat Dan Drew is turning in a tireless, hard-fought effort to unseat 2-term incumbent Republican Mayor Sebastian Giuliano. Drew is considered a decided underdog. If he doesn’t pull off the upset, it won’t be for lack of effort.

Drew is a former Connecticut Post reporter who is now a grant writer for Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. He has alot on his plate—his son Jacob was born Sept. 7th, his third child. This hasn’t slowed him down. With the help of his wife Kate, he routinely spends 35 to 40 hours going door to door in letter carrier-like fashion (he trudged through the nasty weather this past weekend in day-long efforts) in addition to his full-time job.

Unfortunately, he has also had to endure a rather childish event by the opposition party. Republican Common Council candidate Bob Stefurak hosted a fundraiser at the end of the summer that featured a “Dan Drew Look-a-Like” contest. Not exactly the stuff of high-minded political discourse. Drew has kept a sense of humor about it. He says at first, he thought about entering himself. He then figured all it would take would be someone fairly young with a Rod Blagojevich haircut. No word on who actually won. [Full disclosure: Impressed with Drew’s hard work and interested in good government in general, the author of The Hanging Shad has made a nominal donation to the Drew campaign].
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There’s a Smackdown going on in the race for the Republican nomination for US Senate in 2010 and it doesn’t involve WWE executive Linda McMahon. State Senator Sam Caligiuri is laying it on former US Rep. Rob Simmons for what he says is Simmons’ change of position (to the right) on two key issues: cap and trade and the Employee Free Choice Act also known as “card check.” Says a Caligiuri spokeswoman, “While Rob Simmons can spin this all he wants, he is in a primary battle and is desperate to get the support of real, principled Republicans…Everyone has the right to change their mind on where they stand—but doing so years later, once confronted with a competitive primary, simply stinks of political pandering. Given that Simmons was a part of the Republican Congress that clearly lost their way and spent us into oblivion, one has to wonder why he didn’t try to cover that up first.” Nice.
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Governor Rell says the state is still on track for a sale tax reduction Jan. 1st. Under the new state budget, the sale tax would drop from 6 % to 5.5% the first of the year as long as revenues don’t fall at least 1% below the level projected by the legislature. The governor has hailed this as one of her key accomplishments in the budget that became law without her signature.

The Hartford Courant quotes Rell as saying, “I firmly believe consumers and retailers in Connecticut need—and more importantly, deserve—a break on the sales tax…With other taxes and the costs of maintaining a home and family steadily increasing, this is a promise of relief that we cannot afford to break.” That may very well be true. But don’t hold your breath waiting for that break. So far, revenue has fallen 0.97% below the projection. All it will take is a bit of a slower holiday season and, by law, your sales tax break goes away.