GOP: GRAND OLD (VICTORY) PARTY

With some notable exceptions, Republicans are enjoying the taste of victory today after winning a number of closely watched races both here in Connecticut and in key contests in other states. The debate now begins on just what yesterday’s results mean nationally for President Obama and the Democratic party and here at home for next year’s race for governor and for the US Senate.

Among the featured races here, Republican Mayor Tim Stewart fended off state Rep. Tim O’Brien in New Britain; Middletown GOP Mayor Sebastian Giuliano was able to survive a spirited challenged from Dan Drew and Republican Michael Pavia won the open mayor’s seat in Stamford. Republicans were also successful in races for chief elected official in Danbury, Norwalk, Newington, Rocky Hill and others. More detailed results can been seen at www.sots.com and www.courant.com .

Democrats were not without their own important victories in Connecticut yesterday. History was made in Hamden where Scott Jackson became the first African-American mayor in town history. In Simsbury, popular First Selectman Mary Glassman will return for another two-year term and in West Hartford, Democrats swept the town council and school board with Mayor Scott Slifka returning to the top spot.

In other states, national attention was featured on the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey and the open congressional seat in New York’s 23rd district. Republicans won two out of three by comfortable margins raising questions as to what it means for President Obama and next year’s mid-term elections.

In Virginia, a state Obama carried last year (the first Democratic presidential candidate to do so in 45 years), Republican and former state US attorney Bob McDonald whipped Democrat Creigh Deeds. In New Jersey, where the registration heavily favors Democrats, Republican Chris Christie handily beat deep-pocketed but unpopular Governor John Corzine. President Obama campaign for both losing candidates but pulled back and put some distance between the White House and Deeds when it was apparent he would get beaten badly.

If there is any good news for Obama in yesterday’s results it’s the exit polls. According to the New York Times, “voters in both states remained strongly supportive of President Obama…[in] polls conducted by Edison Research… [and] they said that was not a factor in their decisions. But independent voters, who in New Jersey favored the president in 2008 and in Virginia split between Mr. Obama and John McCain, delivered strong margins for both…Christie and…McDonnell, the surveys showed.”

In the special election in New York’s 23rd congressional district, Democratic Bill Owens beat Douglas Hoffman, an accountant running on the Conservative Party line who drove a moderate Republican from the race and incited a bit of a civil war in the GOP. Hoffman had the support of conservatives like Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh while Republican Deidre Scazzafava had the backing of Newt Gingrich and others before getting out of the race and endorsing Owens.
Here at home, for the next year, Connecticut political observers will be focused on races for governor and other statewide, constitutional offices and well as congressional races and what proves to be a very spirited, possibly nasty but certainly entertaining race for the US Senate seat currently held by embattled but slightly recovering Democrat Chris Dodd.
A fun year ahead for political junkies.
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With frequent news about gangs, achievement gaps, drop-out rates and stressed operating budgets, Connecticut’s public school systems would be wise to consider an innovative and successful program recently launched in Boston. “Parent University” is a three-day program run by the Boston public schools, and is designed to “help parents feel empowered and more in control of their lives and their children’s education.”
The 90-minute sessions, stretched over the entire school year, include instruction for parents and grandparents on skills such as how to control tempers, how to discipline infants, children and teenagers and how to handle debt and take care of personal finances.
The program, recently featured in the Boston Globe, costs $300,000. But before the naysayers start screaming that Connecticut has a substantial state budget deficit and besides, “I didn’t need any classes to raise my kids,” consider that in Boston, $200,000 of the cost was paid for with federal stimulus money and the rest came from a private donor.
The Boston program has more than 30 courses, about one-third of them in Spanish. Additional courses will be offered at local libraries and community centers designed to help students become better readers and give support to high school students.
Parent Universities have worked well in other cities across the nation including Atlanta and Charlotte, NC. Connecticut public schools should give it a try.