LAMONT PARACHUTES INTO RACE FOR GOVERNOR

That rumbling you hear is the political ground trembling beneath the candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2010. The entire dynamic of the race has changed now that former US Senate candidate and multi-millionaire Ned Lamont has formed an exploratory committee to run. Such a move practically assures his entrance into the race (when was the last time someone formed an exploratory committee and then didn’t run?) unless party leaders prevail upon him to not go through with it.

Much of how all this plays out depends on the fate of the state’s public financing law. A judge has ruled the law unconstitutional because of the way it treats third party candidates—it’s much harder for them to get public funds than the major parties. The state is appealing the ruling and it should be known by the end of January if the appeal is successful or not. The bottom line is, if there is no public financing, it’s disastrous for candidates like former House Speaker Jim Amann, state Sen. Gary LeBeau, Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi and at least troublesome for Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy and Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz. All planned to participate in the public financing system. If the courts uphold the ruling and throw out public financing, it’s no sweat off the brow of Lamont. He has about a dozen dump trucks loaded with cash parked in the back year of his Greenwich home—metaphorically speaking, of course.

Another question about a Lamont candidacy is whether it’s wise for rank and file Democrats to support him in an likely party primary. Lamont has shown he can win a primary, besting Sen. Joe Lieberman in 2006. But he also shown he can’t win a general election as Lieberman, as an “Independent Democrat”—whatever that is—came back to beat him in the general election. Lamont spent about $16 million of his own money in that race.

The Democratic party in Connecticut (of which this writer is a member) has been down this road before. Namely, choosing a candidate in the primary who can’t win in the general election. The names DeStefano, Curry (twice) and Morrison come to mind, although Morrison forced out Bill O’Neill before a primary. Is history going to repeat itself? Against Lieberman, Lamont had the support of the far left segment of the party and took advantage of Lieberman’s unpopular position on the Iraq war and other issues. It’s unclear whether even that support is still there.

The race for the Democratic nomination just got a little more interesting. And with the Republican field looking more and more like the bar scene from the original “Star Wars,” it’s going to a fun twelve months ahead.

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Supporters of full, equal protection under the law and societal status for gay couples—namely, the right to marry— are regrouping after a disappointing defeat at the polls in a referendum question in Maine Tuesday. Voters there overturned a state law, passed by the state legislature and sign by Governor John Baldacci, that made same-sex marriage legal. Both sides of the issue each raised some $4 million in their efforts.
Gay marriage supporters tried to cast the question as a classic civil rights struggle and hoped that Maine voters would become the first in the country to sanction gay marriage without the action of legislatures or the courts. Five others states have gone that route including Connecticut.
Much can be discerned from comments from opponents of marriage rights for everyone regardless of sexual orientation. The Boston Globe quoted opponent Scott York who said he wasn’t particularly passionate about the issue until he worried, because of advertisements, that same-sex marriage could be taught in schools.
“It’s not my style,’’ said York, who voted to overturn the law. “I just don’t feel it should be taught.’’ Not my style? Is that how this nation is going to determine whether one segment of society is entitled to the same rights and privileges as the others?
The group “Stand for Marriage” says they are “ordinary families who are worried that children will read stories about same-sex couples in schools, that teenagers will be encouraged to experiment with their sexuality, and that same-sex marriage will become widespread.” Heaven help us if society has a vested interest in loving, stable relationships. It would be wise to remember that not long ago, interracial marriage was illegal in many places. Besides, the don’t-teach-the-children-about-it argument is a red herring. There was nothing in the law that required any such instruction. That would be left to the local school boards of education and parents.
The author of The Hanging Shad is not married (was once) but doesn’t see any threat to a future marriage should gays folks get to enjoy the same wonderful journey of life.
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It would be nice if a behavioral scientist could explain the mindset of someone who vandalizes someone else’s property—particularly property that exists for enjoyment of so many other people, adults and children alike. It’s simply inexplicable that vandals “would have at it” to the Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum in Willimantic. It’s a story that just makes you sad. What’s the answer? Stiffer penalties for those that get caught? Security cameras at every little cultural installation?
The Hartford Courant quotes museum volunteer Dick Arnold, “I’m teary… This is absolutely incredible to me, how anybody could do such a stupid, senseless thing. We worked thousands of hours on this place, then to have it trashed is just unbelievable to me.” It’s unclear how much it will cost to replace the smashed windows and other damage.