Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Mop Up

It looks as if Republicans, once again, did not bring home the bacon in Connecticut. Campaign analysts are asking why.

This is an easy one. Republicans are outnumbered in the state roughly by a ratio of two to one, a very steep hill to climb. And, considering the historic nature of journalism in Connecticut, they cannot expect a leg up from the state’s left of center media. The Hartford Courant’s election eve endorsement editorial for instance looked as if it had been dictated to the paper’s publisher and editorial board by David Axelrod, and the paper’s endorsement of Democrat Elizabeth Esty over moderate Republican Andrew Roraback was particularly self-serving.

The paper endorsed all Democrats, at least two of whom are congresspersons for life, U. S. Representatives Rosa DeLauro and John Larson.  If it is the mission of journalism to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, that editorial is a frank admission that the mission has been abandoned. Mr. Larson and Mrs. DeLauro are very comfortable indeed; not so their opponents, who are discomforted by massive spending gaps. 

Linda McMahon spent a hundred million dollars in two attempts to win a vacant U.S. Senatorial position and lost both times. Is there a message there?

There is: Money alone can’t buy you a Senate seat. Mrs. McMahon spent $41,474,257 on her campaign, while her Democratic opponent Chris Murphy spent $9,345,243, a ratio of 4.5 to 1. Most journalists, and not a few voters on the receiving end of her mailers, were horrified by the imbalance; however, it was impossible to help but notice that the McMahon-Murphy spending gap was much smaller than that in two other races.

John Larson spent $1,961,468 defending himself from his Republican challenger, John Decker, who spent $47,005, a 41 to 1 gap. And Rosa DeLauro spent $1,039,238 defending herself against Republican Wayne Winsley, who spent $51,668, a gap of 20 to 1. Mr. Larson is operating within a gerrymandered district that makes ANY campaign fundraising redundant, and Mrs. DeLauro’s district fairly assures her a lifetime sinecure. Yet these imbalances, obvious for many years in their campaigns, hardly raised an eyebrow among the state’s left of center media.

There were no great numerical losses for Republicans in the General Assembly; the numbers remain similar, though some seats changed.

Republican conservatives lost at least one valiant soldier in state Senator Len Suzio, who was targeted by the Malloy administration for having discomforted Mike Lawlor, Governor Dannel Malloy’s Under Secretary for Criminal Justice and the architect of a problem plagued early release program. The thin-skinned Malloy administration is nettled by its gadflies and punishes them ruthlessly whenever possible. Suzio, a man of honor, lost by a heart stopping 221 votes out of nearly 40,000 cast in his overwhelmingly Democratic District after his opponent had imported many of his views into her campaign. The Malloy administration targeted other nettlesome conservative legislators but, for the most part, the few conservatives in the General Assembly acquitted themselves well.

What part was played in Connecticut elections by the Tea Party?

Tea Party members withdrew their participation, discreetly for the most part.

Is the Tea Party, some wonder, still a force to be reckoned with?

Though the Tea Party is not a party but rather a movement, some leaders within the movement recall General Ulysses Grant’s response after a humiliating counter attack by Confederate forces at Fort Donelson, “Dig in, we will get’em tomorrow.”

Tea Party members were not sought as campaign recruits by either McMahon or Roraback, who lost his race to Esty by a relatively slim margin. The Democrats, of course, used the Tea Party as a foil in their races, a stratagem devised by President Barack Obama’s Chicago shakers and movers, although it was clear that most Tea Party members in Connecticut were not animated by the Republican offerings this year. Mr. Murphy, the Planned Parenthood candidate, deployed the Chicago rhetoric to some effect against Mrs. McMahon. But generally, Tea Party folk were disengaged. There was not enough libertarian-conservative pollen among Republican candidates this year to attract the bees.

Looking to the future, what’s the most important take away for Republican candidates?
Both Mr. Roraback and Mrs. McMahon, who positioned themselves in their races as demi-Democrats, have demonstrated that Weickerism doesn’t work anymore.  Mothball it; try something different. The Republican Party needs more Grants and fewer McClellans.

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