Former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays is poised to announce on October 3 his bid for the U.S. Senate, and Connecticut’s commentariate is already burbling. A Hartford Courant columnist has weighed in (pun intended) on a possible Linda McMahon-Chris Shays primary bout for the U.S. Senate:
“Will Linda McMahon's money and muscle pummel Shays, a conscientious objector during Vietnam who discovered his inner-hawk when during the second Iraq War? Shays will need a strategically brilliant campaign to undermine McMahon, who hasn't given up campaigning since her 2010 race crashed and burned.
“Will the well-connected Shays be able to tap into the kind of money to make a race against McMahon, who dumped $50 million into a losing race against Dick Blumenthal? McMahon, who promises to spend her own and supporters' money this time around, has already begun interviewing and hiring top staff.
“Can Shays revive the comatose moderate wing of his party and slay the far-right dragons guarding the doors to the GOP palace? How will he demonstrate he's not just this year's Rob Simmons for Linda to eat for lunch?”
Shays’ conscientious objection to the Vietnam War very likely will not loom large in the race because those in the Democratic Party who ordinarily would be likely to press the issue might have, in the words of Ricky Ricardo, “some s’planing to do.”
Connecticut has just finished electing to office U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal, accurately portrayed in an Australian Broadcasting Company documentary on stolen valor as a false claimant to service in Vietnam. This charge, raised by Linda McMahon in the McMahon-Blumenthal U.S. Senate race, was not potent enough to cost Mr. Blumenthal much loss of sleep. Having prevailed over Mrs. McMahon, he now sits, apparently with an untroubled conscience, on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
Most of the outliers who serve Democratic Party interests in political races are themselves conscious objectors at heart, and for this reason their assaults on Mr. Shays’ dark Vietnam past is not likely to have long campaign legs. And then too – why wake the dead? The present senior senator from Massachusetts, John Kerry, just barely arrived home from Vietnam when he began to accuse his comrades of behaving like Genghis Khan, rhetoric that elevated him into a senate seat. Why rehash all this, especially in Connecticut, where any stone thrown at Mr. Shays is bound to graze Mr. Blumenthal’s untroubled brow?
Not that wealth matters in Democratic Party politics, but Mr. Blumenthal is the eighth richest U.S. Senator in congress, beating out Rosa DeLauro, the fiftieth richest, by some $47 million per year. Mr. Kerry is the third richest congressman. Having married well, he commands $193 million per year. When Mr. Blumenthal replaced former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd in congress, a potential millionaire – Mr. Dodd is now a Hollywood mogul who earns about $2 million a year selling Tinsletown to, among others, his former congressional compatriots – was replaced by a millionaire of long standing. If personal wealth were an impediment to service in Washington D.C., the halls of both the House of Representatives and the Senate would be considerably thinned out, and as many Democrats as Republicans would be sent home.
Mrs. McMahon has to be able to turn out the women’s vote to win office, and Mr. Shays’ albatross will be his moderate voting record when he was a U.S. Rep. The Republican Party, Mr. Shays will have noticed, is a little impatient these days with RINOs or Republicans in name only. And the Democratic Party sis a trifle impatient with DINOs or Democrats in name only. In a political arena in which political parties have sharply defined themselves, walking primary tightropes can be perilous to one’s future in politics.