Politics Unraveling Post-Newtown Bipartisan Efforts

Much was made of the bipartisan spirit with which Connecticut legislative leaders announced the formation of the special task force charged with coming up with legislation to deal with post-Newtown issues. It seems that spirit has given way to politics as usual, several lawmakers tell The Hanging Shad.

Gov. Dannel Malloy is taking heat this week after throwing up his hands and telling the Journal Inquirer of Manchester that he is no longer waiting for the task force because it’s taking too long and is proposing his own legislation. He did just that Thursday.

It certainly didn’t help that Malloy channeled his inner control freak when saying he was going solo on a post-Newtown legislative package. But according to lawmakers deeply involved with the task force, Malloy may in fact be right.

Democrats on the task say it’s becoming clearer that Republicans want it both ways—they want to be able to say they voted for some measures on gun violence, mental health and school security under the cover of “bipartisanship” but also want a minimalist bill. That way, they can go back to their conservative constituencies and say they still protected the Second Amendment. They would also then be free to vote against strong measures in the future such as those that may come out of the commission the governor formed to look at the same issues.

The Shad learned from other lawmakers that Democrats will insist on a strong reform bill and therein lies a coming political gridlock and Malloy sees it.

Malloy told the JI, “I’m not going to shy away from this issue…They wanted to do this — have a big panel with 50 or 60 people on the panel — and wanted to do this on a bipartisan basis and get to the same point. I’m now looking at leaders bailing out on hearings or rallies and people coming to talk about their own personal pain instead of gun control at a gun control rally.”

Other political issues aren’t helping. House Minority Leader Larry Cafero begged off appearing at the huge anti-gun violence rally this week (it’s the first time in memory Cafero turned down a chance to bloviate to an audience). Senate Minority Leader John McKinney showed the courage Cafero lacks by appearing and getting heckled. Both want Malloy’s job in 2014.

For those interested in some actual results on the issues shoved into the limelight by the unspeakable tragedy that is the massacre in Newtown, the governor’s way may be the only one with a chance of success.

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