It was a busy weekend for political moves in the race for governor here in Connecticut. Former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy announced he has become the very first candidate to qualify for public campaign financing by raising $250,000 in increments of $100 or less. That’s the formidable hurdle the new state campaign finance laws sets. Getting over that hurdle is impressive and means Malloy qualifies for a $1.25 million grant for his primary campaign, with a potential for matching grants up to another $1.25 million if a competitor spends more than the initial grant amount.
Malloy’s campaign says qualifying for the public grant under the Clean Elections Program (CEP) could eventually bring in up to $8.5 million for the campaign before November. That includes a general-election grant of $3 million and matching payments if his Republican opponent spends more than that amount. Several Republicans vying for their nomination are not participating in the CEP so more money for Malloy is likely.
Malloy’s main rival, businessman Ned Lamont issued a statement congratulating Malloy for qualifying and concluded with, “And as governor, I’ll work with the legislature to continue strengthening the Citizens’ Election Program.” Lamont is not participating in the CEP which he has supported in the past and apparently in the future. That brings him dangerously close to being a hypocrite.
Lamont is playing his own political card later this morning. Simsbury First Selectman Mary Glassman is abandoning her own bid for governor to become Lamont’s running mate. The move is curious given the fact that Glassman seemed to finally be getting traction in her own bid. The read here is that she concluded she could not raise enough money to qualify for the CEP.
The catch is that Glassman was Malloy’s running mate in 2006 in a failed campaign against Jodi Rell (Malloy-Glassman got a mere 35% in that election). Does Glassman think Malloy was the better candidate in 2006 but not now? And this now makes the third run Glassman has made for the second spot. As a fan and former co-worker of Glassman’s, The Shad is disappointed in the decision to run with Lamont.
There could be (and certainly should be) repercussions from the column by the Hartford Courant’s Jon Lender about a curiously successful job search by a Rell political appointee. Chelsea Turner, the amiable and likable director of legislative and policy affairs for the governor, has scored a six-figure job with the quasi-public Connecticut Lottery Corporation as director of government affairs. Normally, congratulations would be in order. But upon further review, the situation is troubling and deserves scrutiny by the legislative committee that oversees legalized gambling in the state.
Turner’s new job was created for her and was never advertised to give others a chance to compete for it. In a time when state government is being cut back, the lottery’s President and CEO Ann Noble told Lender there’s no story here. Guess again. Noble worked with Turner in the governor’s office and admitted she had Turner in mind when creating the job.
Even more troubling is that the position was never posted. This is akin to a no-bid contract and is political patronage of the worst kind. If the legislature’s public safety committee, which oversees gambling, doesn’t act on this situation, they too are complicit in what the public can rightly conclude is an outrageous arrangement that should be illegal—all government or quasi-government positions should be posted so everyone can compete for them.
Three days to go until the end of the regular legislative session and still no budget agreement. Republicans in the House and Senate walked out of negotiations Friday night when they learned none of their budget-cutting proposals was being considered. That leaves the Democrats and the governor to cut a deal. Sound familiar? The situation is right of the John Rowland playbook—saw off the limb his fellow Republicans are on and deal with the Democrats. Republicans wanted further consolidation of agencies, an early retirement program (without union approval) and other significant spending cuts. The governor has decided to refinance the debt or simply reposition the chairs on the Budget Titanic—a $700 million deficit in 2011 and a $3 billion hole in 2012.