If the last couple of months are any indication, the 2014 campaign season will be a special treat for those who follow politics as well as those who cover them for a living. The sharpened knives are already out as Gov. Dannel Malloy seeks reelection after winning three years ago by a razor-thin margin. (He still hasn’t formally declared for another term.)
Republicans truly believe they can take down Malloy if they play their cards right. Unfortunately for them there is no evidence yet they can play anything other than 52 Pickup. The three major GOP contenders are taking different paths as the election season gets underway.
Former ambassador to Ireland and 2010 gubernatorial nominee Tom Foley has not gotten off to a good start to say to least. He is out of the gate like an old nag at Saratoga. His first move was to propose new “ethics” standards that would have disqualified three quarters of the current members of the General Assembly from serving including many fellow Republicans who hammered him for it. How does that hand that feeds you taste, Mr. Ambassador?
He then basically claimed Malloy was a crook and he had proof that rose to “journalist standards.” When pressed for the evidence, he couldn’t or wouldn’t produce it which made him look McCarthy-like not to mention insulting those who will cover the race and actually do comply with journalistic standards every day.
Foley has some soft areas himself. Just like in 2010, he is going to have to find a way to sufficiently explain that night in 1981 when he apparently channeled Joey Chitwood on some road on Long Island and got pinched for it. He will also have to avoid being tagged as just another rich person trying to buy a new toy. (See the pitiful campaigns of Linda McMahon and the pathetic ones of Ned Lamont; neither of whom belongs anywhere near elected office.)
State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney is a bright, accomplished politician who thus far has stuck to hammering Malloy and campaigning in Fairfield County. McKinney is knowledgeable enough to call Malloy out anytime the governor makes a move that can arguably be questioned. He will also excel in any debate in which participates either in a primary or a general election.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has the most interesting and creative campaign of the top tier GOP candidates to date. He’s a down-to-earth, blue-collar, likeable Republican who is not from Fairfield County—likely a plus in this race. He cleverly challenges Foley while also criticizing Malloy. Boughton is also a master of social media. His Twitter followers love his witty tweets.
Importantly, Boughton appears to have shored up his major liability—he has been regarded as anti-immigrant. Yet, a pro-immigrant student group recently gave him props for turning that around. Boughton’s biggest problem may be raising enough money to go the distance.
As for the Democrats, they’ll have to decide whether they’ll continue their practice of issuing multiple, breathless, over-the-top, truth-challenged news releases on every little thing the GOP contenders do or say. If everything is the biggest matter of the campaign, then nothing is. Soon voters won’t be able to tell what Dems think the major issues are because it seems everything is the end of the world.
All indications are Election ’14 is going to be a major smackdown. I can’t wait.