Thursday, November 11, 2010

Should Healy Go?

Should Chris Healy go as Republican Party Chairman?

Who would replace him, Tom D’Amore?

Mr. D’Amore, it will be recalled, was anointed Republican Party Chairman by then Sen. Lowell Weicker, who at the time was considered one of the nominal heads of his party. Weicker later tossed aside his rusty foil, the Republican Party, and became an Independent.

One of D’Amore’s first proposals as Party Chairman was to open nominating conventions to those not formally registered as Republicans. Had he been successful, Weicker would have been spared the indignity of scrounging for money and influence from a party he abhorred. Republicans at the time were in no mood to commit suicide and spurned D’Amore’s gambit.

D’Amore drifted off to assist such independent nobodies as former governor of Minnesota Jesse "The Body" Ventura, once a wrestler, and Ned Lamont, a democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate.

Weicker himself lost a senatorial race to present Sen. Joe Lieberman and, in his senatorial after-life, ran for governor of Connecticut. He won largely because his political base – moderate Republicans and some red to pink Democrats – believed him when he suggested during his campaign that he would address a major deficit without “pouring gas on a fire,” Weicker’s way of saying he would not, as governor, institute an income tax.

As everyone knows, that is precisely what he proceeded to do, with a major assist from Bill Cibes, who ran as governor, lost on a pro-income tax plank and later was tapped by Weicker as the new governor’s Office of Policy Management chief.

The same “moderate” Republicans and media adepts who supported Weicker and D’Amore then are agitating, some more discretely than others, for Chris Healy’s resignation as Republican Party Chairmen now.

But really, who in the Republican Party is left standing to choose a successor to Healy? Ordinarily, such choices are initiated by leading Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation or a Republican governor. There are no Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation, the last such moderate Republican having been tossed out of office years ago. Republican Gov. Jodi Rell is on her way out.

There are three questions that should be answered before Healy is given his traveling papers: 1) Should he be forced out? 2) What major leader of the party should ask him to leave? 3) And who should replace him?

It may not be necessary to ask Healy to leave. This may not be the most opportune time to throw the baby out with the bathwater. And it is important to understand that some VIPPs (very important political people) pressing for his departure do not have the best interests of the Republican Party in mind. There are among us Republicans and some commentators, smitten by a deadly nostalgia, who long for a return of Rockefeller Republicanism. That dinosaur long ago laid down in the bone yard. Nationally, the Republicans who won in the recent elections can hardly be described as Jacob Javits Republicans, which is how Weicker used to style himself.

The Republican Party in Connecticut – some regard it as the Republican Party in exile – has just made a choppy journey through rough waters. Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state by a two to one margin; Republicans are outnumbered by Independents by a two to one margin. Surely the present chairmen is not responsible for this long standing disparity, which might more properly be laid at the door of moderate Republicans, now a vanished species in the Northeast. Barry Goldwater used to say, jokingly, that if you lop off California and the New England, you have a pretty good country. Some important congressional races in Connecticut – despite the superior numbers of registered Democrats and Independents – were very close indeed. And the gubernatorial race was a nail-biter. The case for Healy’s replacement may not hold up to honest scrutiny.

People in the state Republican Party who might in the past have had the political cachet to call for the resignation of a party chairman have been routed by left of center Democrats who, most especially, would like to see Healy leave.

It cannot be wise for Republicans to allow the Republican or Independent friends of their enemies to decide the matter.

Dumb added to dumb = dumber.

Mr. Healy himself appears to have higher ambitions. According to Roll Call, a Beltway publication, Healy is in the listings for Republican Party National Chairman.

Should Mr. Healy leave on his own steam or be pressured out, Republicans likely will rally around the following proposition: No party chairman to the left of Healy will be acceptable. Some grass roots elements loosely associated with the Republican Party that were partly responsible for Republican advances in the new U.S. congress favor direct primaries over nominating conventions, a position they hold in common with radical leftist in the Democratic Party. Should they ascend to power within the Republican Party, the question who is best fitted to be chairman of Connecticut’s state party will have been mooted.
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