Monday, May 17, 2010

Fedele Chooses Boughton As His Running Mate

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton announced yesterday that he would be running for Lieutenant Governor with Mike Fedele, the present Lieutenant Governor running for governor as a Republican.

The Boughton announcement follows announcements by both Democratic candidates running for governor, former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy and Ned Lamont, that they had selected running mates for lieutenant governor.

The specs for the job, Boughton declared, will be different should Mike Fedele become governor.

Fedele, Boughton said, had been underutilized in the Rell administration:

"We've made a commitment that we'll never run the lieutenant governor's office like that again. You'll be hearing from me. I'll be vocal, and I'll be Mike's full partner in managing this state. ... The bottom line is this will be much, much more than a ceremonial post. And I think the taxpayers deserve more, for $110,000 [per year in salary], than somebody that cuts ribbons and kisses babies.''

The Lieutenant Governor has attributed his supposed underutilization to “a difference in style” between himself and Rell.

Rell has relied most heavily during her administration on her chief of staff, Lisa Moody.

The Lieutenant Governor position, like the Vice Presidential position in national politics, traditionally has been a ceremonial slot famously described by Franklin Roosevelt’s Vice President, John Nance Garner, as “not worth a warm bucket of spit,” a turn of phrase here purged of its scatological overtones so as not to alienate the parents of young children.

The nature of the national office changed during the Bush II administration, when the redoubtable Dick Cheney, viewed by some querulous Democrats as the president’s Svengalli, assumed the post.

Fedele’s problem all along has been his inability, while lieutenant governor, to achieve an identity separate from the governor, a problem that will become more acute as his campaign unfolds – unless Fedele begins to strike out on his own and present himself to voters as someone other than the governor’s bucket holder.

How to do this without alienating the affections of a governor still held in high esteem by many voters is a delicate enterprise.

And, to complicate matters further, Republican gubernatorial hopeful Tom Foley announced just moments ago that should the nominating convention choose Boughton as lieutenant governor, the choice of the convention would be acceptable to him as well.

Not to but too fine a point on it, the Republican nominating convention will be more exciting than its Democratic counterpart.

True, the Democrats will wrangle in choosing between Lamont and Malloy for the U.S. senate, but Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will be crowned without much opposition from a marginalized Merrick Alpert; and Malloy, rather than Lamont may walk off with the gubernatorial laurel – assuming the delegates at the convention really do believe in campaign finance reform. Unlike Lamont, Foley and Linda McMahon, running as a Republican for Dodd’s soon to be vacant seat, Malloy is not a self-financer.

Nor is he a millionaire.

6 comments:

Fuzzy Dunlop said...

I was surprised by Boughton's decision considering the fact that only a few days ago he said that his goal all along was to simply qualify for a primary.

Tactically, Foley's decision not to choose a running mate is very smart. Although Boughton is undoubtedly capable and is a very good choice for lieutenant governor in his own right, it is a near certainty that the biggest factor in Fedele's choice was the delegates that Boughton brings to the table. Taking the pressure off Boughton delegates to either support Fedele or risk losing Boughton on the ballot should siphon off at least some lockstep support. The only mistake Foley made was not being more forceful and positive regarding his willingness to work with Boughton. Loading on the sugar and flattery would have made it a little bit more difficult for Boughton to turn around and say anything negative about Foley.

I also think Foley's decision is substantively smart. The plain fact of the matter is that there simply aren't a lot of great Republican options for the Lt. Gov. spot out there, and it would be silly for Foley to saddle himself with one of them just for the sake of choosing a running mate. And we've already seen with the DeStefano/Glassman debacle that there's no guarantee you'll get your choice of number two anyway.

There was a little hiccup regarding Boughton's statements today regarding the way Rell has used Fedele. Boughton essentially undercut many of the arguments that Fedele has made regarding why his status as the current lieutenant governor makes him uniquely positioned to ascend to the governorship. By saying that Fedele hasn't been adequately utilized by Jodi Rell concedes the fact that Mike hasn't exactly been getting "on the job training" that he claims he has. The sniping at Rell also runs the risk of appearing petty, tasting a bit like sour grapes over her excellency's decision to stay neutral and eroding what little chance there was of getting a preconvention endorsement.

Fedele faces other problems beyond campaign tactics. Hearst had an interesting piece this weekend on how the state has used some Department of Homeland Security Funds. The piece noted that Fedele used $15,000 to produce an episode of his cable access show. Fedele countered that the particular episode the funds were used for highlighted security issues. But one has to wonder whether the $15,000 in federal funds was well spent on a half hour cable access show that probably has viewership of about 5 people total.

By itself, the DHS thing might not be particularly troubling, except that it's part of a bigger pattern. The lieutenant governor talks a big game about getting state employee salaries and benefits under control, along with the importance of diminishing the state work force and using money wisely. But, as Rick Green has pointed out, Fedele has required a chief of staff, administrative assistant, publicist, policy analyst, and $142,000 state police driver/bodyguard. These expenditures are subsidized by taxpayers to the tune of $500,000 + a year for a job for which the only constitutional requirements are presiding over the senate and having a pulse.

In other words, Mike Fedele talks the talk, but for four years he's had the opportunity to walk the walk, and hasn't. There is a troubling disconnect between words and actions. Before Fedele failed to get the governor's support, he was her partner. Now that she's given him the cold shoulder, he's an underutilized asset. He's against bloated state employment roles when it suits him politically, yet has gone out of his way to find reasons to spend his office's $500,000 budget.

Don Pesci said...

Fuzzy,

As always, you bring a feast to the table. Good analysis, well said.

Fedele either will or will not have a break-out moment, when the mask comes off and we begin to see what he is made of. To do this, he must step out of Rell’s shadow, a difficult move since the lieutenant governor is, more or less, the governor’s shadow.

We’ll know the moment when it happens – if it happens.

One thing is certain: This is no ordinary year. The usual solutions will not do -- for Democrats or Republicans. That is the real message of the latest Rell, Donovan, Williams budget fraud.

It is also the message that the tea party patriot movement – such as it is and whatever one thinks of it – has been sending to politicians. Here and there one picks up whispers of the future in columns written by political writers who have memories; Chris Powell suggesting that the Democratic gubernatorial candidates this year are liberal and liberaler. Some conservative politicians have ventured out of the Republican closet. It is only a matter of time before events teach those who have not been paying attention lessons they ought to have learned long ago. Not to paint too black a picture, but events are in the saddle and now ride men. The usual political bromides will not work when the six billon dollar deficit knocks on our door.

Time to get serious.

Don Pesci said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fuzzy Dunlop said...

I recall a conversation on this blog not too long ago regarding Boughton's decision not to attend a UConn Law forum on immigration and labor issues. Brian Lockhart has raised the possibility that this might create a problem. Between (1) Mark's reputation on the immigration issue (deserved or not) and (2) the fact that Mark and Mike are, to put it bluntly, two slightly nerdy middle aged white guys and (3) Republicans, I would venture to say that attracting minority support could be an issue in the general election (I would also add, that Tom Foley does not have a leg up there).

Also, what's the line on the Republican AG nomination? Is John Pavia still running? Does he have a shot against Martha Dean? John seems like a fairly moderate, likable young guy who voters might find it easy to connect with. Should Fedele win the Republican primary, he also might benefit from the vowel at the end of his name (assuming that Fedele would win a significant portion of the Italian American population).

Don Pesci said...

On labor and race: Purely from a tactical point of view, the Republican Party has long – and needlessly – surrendered on these issues to Democrats. The race issue, here and elsewhere, is rooted to place – mostly the state’s big cities, where African Americans and Latino long have laid under the sway of one party, politically old world systems. AND this year a big city mayor is running for governor on the Democratic ticket. The unbreakable connection is place related, and somewhat ideological. Unions are Democratic barnacles. The shame is that in many instances Republicans could make common cause with citified African Amnericans purely on ideological ground – shut down low performing public schools and replace them with charter schools, a position offensive to unions, but so what; tell the ACLU to take a hike and stop harassing Baptist churches; decriminalize some drugs (If it was good enough for Bill Buckley, it ought to be good enough for you… etc.) I think the Republicans already have given up.

On the AG office: Martha Dean better get support. She’s brilliant – probably should be running for governor – energetic, and she knows EXACTLY what’s wrong with that office. And she can fix it. I like Pavia. You’re right about the vowel.

Give me a call later on today 860-645-9821. If I don’t pick up, leave a message.

Anonymous said...

Does it bother anyone that we could potentially have a Senator, Governor, and LT. Governor without a shred of political experience between them? (Linda McMahon, Tom Foley, Lisa Wilson-Foley)
Welcome to CT. politics where the only qualification for high office is money.
Mark Boughton is the best pick out of the entire lot and should be at the top of the ticket.