Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Healy’s Out

Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy confirmed on the Dan Lavallo Talk of Connecticut show that he does not intend to run for re-election.

In an ironic way, Healy, and all future chairpersons of both parties, may be the victims of party reform. Party chairmen are not what they used to be in the heyday of party bosses when giants – John Bailey in the Democratic Party and his compliment in the Republican Party, Meade Alcorn – ruled the roost with iron fists in velvet gloves.

Myths outlive reality, and the myth of the party chairman ruling autocratically by cleverly manipulating events in now smokeless back rooms has yet to succumb to reality.

Some in the Republican Party who continue to protest that Mr. Healy cleverly subverted the nominating convention to secure the nomination of Linda McMahon to the U.S. Senate -- apparently so that Mr. Healy’s wife, Susan Bibisi, could be put on Mrs. McMahon’s payroll – doth protest far too much on very slender evidence.

That said, it may or may not serve the Republican Party well that Mr. Healy has resigned his post, but Republicans should beware what they ask for. It is by no means certain that Mr. Healy’s replacement will be able to elevate the party above Mr. Healy’s accomplishments.

Democratic Party Chairwoman, Nancy DeNardo, was kind enough to offer Mr. Healy a left handed (pun intended) compliment in her response to his announcement.

“While Chris and I didn’t often agree on the issues, he was always respectful to me, and he worked hard for the Republican Party. We both shared a respect for the importance of political parties, and an understanding of the need for a public political dialogue. The Republican Party’s track record at the polls – especially in this past election cycle, which should have been a great Republican year –was poor, and I can imagine his frustration. I sincerely wish him the best as he moves forward with his life. He’s passionate about what he believes in, and he works hard. I respect both of those traits.”
And then the imperatives of her job clicked in:

“I want to say that what ails the Republican Party isn’t going to be fixed by the selection of a new Chairperson, no matter who it is. The Connecticut Republicans are becoming increasingly irrelevant because they’re being dragged farther and farther to the right by the fringe elements of their own party, and the Tea Party. The positions they hold on a host of issues are out of step with the average Connecticut resident, and they’re bereft of new ideas to help solve Connecticut’s problems. Too often the Republican Party has reduced itself to finding rich people to run in the hopes that somehow money can trump ideas. But as they found out in the last election cycle, democracy isn’t for sale in Connecticut.

“The people of Connecticut want what Connecticut Democrats, led by Governor Malloy, are giving them: an honest budget that brings fiscal stability so that we can finally start creating the kinds of good-paying jobs with good benefits that will jumpstart this economy.”
If Mr. Healy were not retiring, he might have pointed out several lapses in Mrs. DeNardo’s complimentary parting wishes.

Republican office holders in the U.S. Congress are no longer rich because, as Mrs. DeNardo may have noticed, these offices are held exclusively by Democrats, two of whom -- U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Rep Rosa DeLauro – are millionaires. Mr. Dodd, chosen as the chief lobbyist for the motion picture industry, will become a millionaire shortly. The last two Republican governors were not rich. And if one measures wealth by the amount of money politicians are able to raise in their campaigns, certainly one must concluded that U.S. Rep. Rep. John Larson, who spent millions defending a gerrymandered district the Democrats had not lost for 50 years, was far richer than his Republican challenger, Ann Brickley, who spent far less on her campaign. Democrats across the board spent far more on their campaigns during the last election cycle than their poorer Republican counterparts.

The Tea Party generally has had a beneficial influence on Republicans who won elections in the last campaign, which is probably why Mrs. DeNardo is so quick to denigrate the Tea Party; blowing fog over the political landscape is just part of the job of a party chairman.

And finally, whether the people of Connecticut are content with the largest tax increase in the state’s history, the leeching of business to other states and a “shared sacrifice” among state union workers far more temporary than the burdensome taxes the Malloy administration has imposed on voters are all matters to be decided in future elections that will not be shaped, fortunately or unfortunately, by Mr. Healy.
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