“YOU’RE THE GUY THAT GIVES ME HELL ALL THE TIME” AND OTHER NOTES FROM BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE DEBATE

Sometimes what goes on before and after a big debate is much more entertaining than the debate itself. That seemed to be the case last night as the crowd outside the Bushnell’s Belding Theatre mulled around, shaking hands and showing support for their candidate.

The Shad reconnected with some politicos and other big names I’ve not seen in some time. They included state Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, radio guys Colin McEnroe (WNPR) and Ray Dunaway (WTIC-AM), Democratic state party chair Nancy DiNardo and some of her staff, former congressman and defeated US Senate contender Rob Simmons, often-defeated former gubernatorial candidate Bill Curry and recently vanquished gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont. Panelists Laurie Perez of FOX-CT and Chris Keating of the Hartford Courant (both Shad favorites) did a fine job asking questions of the candidates Republican Linda McMahon and Democrat Richard Blumenthal.

But it was Lamont that provided the awkward moment for The Shad. As we were all waiting in to get in the theatre, I ended up right next to Lamont. It’s no secret that the Hanging Shad has been a source of harsh criticism of Lamont in the Democratic primary campaign. Lamont turned to me and said, “You’re the Hanging Shad guy. You give me hell all the time!” Other than complimenting him on his perceptiveness, I had little to say other than “Hi, Mr. Lamont.” It was also the first time I was recognized for this blog instead of my work as the communications director for the Senate Democrats or my national and state television and radio appearances as guest or host. I’m still not sure how I feel about that.

The atmosphere outside the Bushnell was electric. The national FOX News Channel’s chief political reporter Carl Cameron had been doing live reports from in front of the Bushnell all afternoon. McMahon and Blumenthal supporters were out in full force. But campaigns still haven’t grasped the concept that you can’t put campaign signs on state property. The Shad saw one volunteer glumly removing signs from the lawn between the Capitol and the Legislative Office Building, both located next to the Bushnell.