RELL OUT + Q-POLL + BLUMENTHAL (?) = POLITICAL BEDLAM

The departure of Gov. Rell from the political scene for 2010 was compounded yesterday by a new Quinnipiac Poll that shows Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz leading Democratic while Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is leaving the door open for a possible run. This confluence of events has led to a complete free-for-all on the Connecticut political landscape with names of potential candidates for various offices flying everywhere.

The Q-Poll shows Bysiewicz trailing Rell by just six points (the poll was taken before Rell’s announcement Tuesday). When voters were asked about a potential primary, Bysiewicz got 26% from registered Democrats; former US Senate candidate Ned Lamont 23% and outgoing Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy just 9%. But before Lamont fans get too excited or Malloy backers start to panic, it should be noted Lamont had just entered the picture when the poll was done (so he was in the headlines) and he enjoys at least some name recognition from his ultimately unsuccessful challenge to Sen. Joe Lieberman in 2006.

On the Republican side, Lt. Michael Fedele is in. But Fedele committed a campaign cardinal sin on day one telling reporters he expected Gov. Rell’s support and that the governor told him in private she would back him. Yesterday, when given the chance, Rell begged off any endorsement of anyone. Is she changes he mind or feels to need to stay publicly neutral, Fedele looks bad.

Other Republicans said to be either considering a run or are being courted to do so include state House Minority Leader Larry Cafero, state Senate Minor Leader John McKinney, former US Attorney Kevin O’Connor, former US Rep. Rob Simmons (who would have to leave the current US Senate race) and fellow former US Rep. Chris Shays.

The wild card (as many have written so many times over so many years) is Attorney General Richard Blumenthal who has an approval rating higher than Rell’s. It is generally assumed Blumenthal’s life-long political ambition is to be in the US Senate. However, he would have to wait to 2012, when Joe Lieberman is up for reelection. Being governor for two years would certainly solidify his chances to go to Washington—as if his chances needed any shoring up. And what has people talking now is Blumenthal’s answer to whether he is interested in succeeding Rell. He said his plans are to run for reelection as AG but he acknowledged “people have been talking to me [about running for governor] and I have been listening.”

The bottom line is that the Connecticut political scene is chaotic. Kind of a combination of the running of the bulls and an English soccer match—no one knows who will survive and who gets gored or smacked with a bottle.
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The bucolic town of Kent in the state’s northwest corner seems an unlikely place for controversy that gets national attention. The only issue of note in recent years is the so-far-failed attempt by the Schaghticoke Indians to get federal recognition. But in the past few weeks, a new conflict has arisen.

Resident James Gadiel, who lost his son Peter in the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center approached town officials to suggest that the town consider erecting a plaque at town hall in his son’s memory. Town officials thought is was a fine idea since Peter Gadiel was a town son who went through the town’s schools. They just needed to decide what would be written on the plaque. The elder Gadiel proposed “James Gadiel, lifelong resident of Kent, murdered in the World Trade Center by Muslim terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001.” That’s where the controversy began.

First Selectwoman Ruth Epstein and Selectman Bruce Adams were concerned about the “inflammatory tone” of the wording. The two say they could find no reference to “Muslim terrorists” or similar language on any other 9-11 memorial across the country. The board of selectmen voted in September against using Gabriel’s wording on any plaque that would be on town property.

Enter alleviator Bill O’Reilly of Fox News Channel. He devoted a segment of his show on Sept. 29 to the issue and has vowed that he’ll charter a bus and “march into Kent” if the town doesn’t agree to Gadiel’s proposed wording. Very helpful.

Gradiel tells the Hartford Courant, “If you look at Holocaust memorials around the world, they do mention the German perpetrators. The Pearl Harbor Memorial does not mention the Japanese, but the museum all around the memorial is all about the rise of Japanese militarism in the 1940s. So, there’s been no attempt to whitewash history elsewhere, but with 9/11 there is this pattern of denying the perpetrators.”

As of now, the two sides are at a stalemate.
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The Hanging Shad is at a loss as to what to think about the victim of the Stamford chimpanzee attack appearing for an interview on today’s “Oprah.” Charla Nash lost both hands, eyes and lips in the February 16 attack. While it is certainly a lesson about the dangers of keep exotic animals as pets, it also comes of the heals of news that Nash’s family is suing the state for $150 million for not heeding warning that the pet chimp was a disaster waiting to happen. In any event, the Tivos and DVRs will be rolling.
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Sad news for New Haven and tennis fans throughout the northeast. The Pilot Pen Company has decided to pull his title sponsorship from the wonderful, end-of-summer event at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale after 2010 (This writer has had a fantastic, ten-year working relationship with the PP). The Pilot Pen has become more than just a tennis tournament featuring world-class men and women players from all over the world. It’s a “happening” that includes events for children and families as well putting the very best of New Haven on display every summer. The annual fashion show sells out every year, musical acts entertain the crowds between matches as they chow down on the gourmet selections in the food court.

The search is on for another title sponsor. If anyone can bring another big name into New Haven to sponsor the event, it’s Tournament Director Anne Worcester. She has masterfully run the tournament for so many years and will no doubt give it her all to continue this gem of an event.