Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Harp Harpoons A Wife

Harp and Elicker
Mayor Toni Harp of New Haven, Hartford Courant reporter Chris Keating tells us, “has won 14 consecutive elections in her hometown, dating to her first run for state Senate in 1992.” That is as close to invulnerability as one might expect in a Democrat machine run city. The Republican Party has been for years but a ghostly presence in Connecticut’s larger cities. The last Republican mayor of the city, William Celanto, a funeral director and its first Italian –American mayor, left office in 1953, more than six decades ago. Democrats, out polling Republicans by a ratio of 15-1, have owned the shop ever since.

 Harp has a few albatrosses around her neck, one of which is her deceased husband, a slum landlord by some accounts and a tax scofflaw. Harp’s husband was given a walk-on role in the mayor’s last campaign, which featured Justin Elicker, a Democrat who ran in a general election against Harp as an Independent and did remarkably well, losing to Harp 55 to 45 percent. Elicker has said he will once again challenge Harp in a general election as an Independent should he lose to her in an upcoming Democrat primary.

In the meantime, Harp has struck back at her likely Democrat primary opponent by implausibly accusing prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Haven Natalie Elicker, Justin Elicker’s wife, of colluding with President Donald Trump to deny the mayor her destined place in the sun, a charge made “out of the blue,” Keating writes, by Harp campaign manager, Edward Corey. The FBI is presently investigating corruption in New Haven City Hall, and Corey has alleged a multipart conspiracy involving “President Donald Trump’s Justice Department and the city’s Democratic town committee leaders.”

Corey’s charge was unambiguous; there was in it no room for what the politicians sometimes call plausible deniability. “It is apparent,” Corey huffed, “that candidate Justin Elicker had inside knowledge of the investigation in city hall. Attorney Elicker clearly had her hand in manipulating the FBI into moving forward, which is reminiscent of the FBI’s sloppy meddling in the 2016 election. It is no surprise to me that Attorney Elicker is willing to use the same tactics that got her boss elected, to get her husband elected.”

Corey assumed that “boss Trump” had appointed Natalie Elicker to her position, but he was mistaken. The charge was absurd, said husband Elicker, for two reasons: first, his wife handles only civil cases and has no connection with the FBI; and second, her boss, the President who had appointed her to her position, was not the offensive Trump, but rather the inoffensive President Barack Obama.

Elicker did not mention that the charge Trump had colluded with President of Russia Vladimir Putin to deny Democrat presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton her destined place in the sun had been found, after a two year investigation by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, to be meritless, except as a political ploy that, in Connecticut, permitted Democrats to regain an unassailable majority of seats in the state’s General Assembly. There are, after all, limits to proper political discourse in Connecticut’s urban Democrat hegemonies such as New Haven.

Corey’s boss took the drubbing cheerfully on the chin. “My campaign staff,” said Harp, referring to Corey’s ham-fisted attempt to blacken the reputation of both Mr. and Mrs. Elicker, “was very concerned and saw the connection and sent it out. They are my campaign staff, so I can’t disavow it.”

Mrs. Elicker is no stranger to New Haven. In 2014, she became the executive director of New Haven’s landmark Institute Library, Connecticut’s oldest circulating library, and immediately began to generate financing for both the Institute, and the building in which it is housed, a Victorian structure designed by Rufus G. Russell that opened for business in 1856. In addition, Mrs. Elicker repurposed the library, restoring it to its initial luster as a salon that had invited notable speakers -- including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Theodore Parker, Herman Melville and Frederick Douglass, among others -- to address the wider community.

The hit job on the wife of Harp’s chief Democrat political opponent, easily dismissed by Harp as staff induced, may be the least of her problems. Her platform for the city is lackluster, while Elicker’s reformist message -- “more affordable housing, investing in public schools and youth programs, strengthening neighborhoods, and battling against ‘predatory landlords’ across the city,” according to Keating’s account --  is considerably more muscular. The vow to battle predatory landlords and “an open checkbook policy” insuring transparency by placing every city hall financial transaction on the internet are especially wounding to a Harp administration that has winked at her own family’s slum landlord background – hence the attack on Elicker’s wife. If you’re losing support within New Haven’s rusty political machine, it sometimes helps to raise your voice, and the attack on Elicker’s wife is a scream of desperation.

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