Who’s in, who’s out — that is the question

Who’s in, who’s out? It was an oft-repeated question in political circles in both Connecticut and Washington, D.C., last week.

Out as future chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court was Justice Andrew McDonald, whose nomination was rejected by Republicans after a marathon state Senate hearing. The dismissal came as no surprise to McDonald or his nominator, Gov. Dannel Malloy, who were forewarned of the pending vote the day before.

Neither was it a big surprise when Democratic State Rep. Angel Arce, D-Hartford, delivered his letter of resignation since he had promised it two weeks earlier after complaints over what officials called an inappropriate exchange of text messages with a teenaged girl.

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Mark Boughton and Dr. Spyros Smith. On screen is Dr. Robert Freidlander.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, meanwhile, was endeavoring to remain viable in this year’s gubernatorial race by  having his doctors publicly explain why the Republican’s brain surgery last summer should not impede his ability to run for office or serve if elected. On the Democratic side, State Attorney General George Jepsen tried to give gubernatorial contender Ned Lamont a boost by endorsing his candidacy.

Jepsen was not acting politically, but rather as a consumer advocate, he said, when he led a group of 39 state attorneys general to demand that Facebook Chairman Mark Zuckerberg answer questions about the misuse of psychographic information from 50 million users by Cambridge Analytica.

The legislature is in the process of deciding which bills will be in or out this session, of course, and the jury is still out on several measures – including a sweeping bill to implement the state’s updated Comprehensive Energy Strategy.

And though the state has agreed to save Hartford from bankruptcy by paying its bonded indebtedness, what that will cost the city in other forms of state aid remains to be seen.

The fate of the governor’s proposed big transportation initiative also has a long road ahead of it — despite new support from a coalition of Connecticut construction businesses and trades. (Speaking of transportation needs, the federal omnibus bill approved recently is likely to provide a multi-million-dollar windfall for Connecticut.)

The ins and outs in Washington last week made Connecticut’s machinations seem tame by comparison.

Kyle Constable / CTMirror.org

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty with U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy in 2016.

First came news that President Donald Trump would replace Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster with former ambassador John Bolton as his national security advisor.

The president also surprised everyone — including his own staff, apparently — by naming White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson to replace Veterans Administration Secretary David Shulkin. The dismissal did not sit well with Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who said it “threatens the VA’s vital mission to provide first-rate healthcare, employment services, and essential benefits that we owe to our nation’s heroes…”

Then came the revelation that U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, had mishandled the dismissal of her former chief-of-staff following complaints he had abused both verbally and physically other members of Esty’s staff. Friday the congresswoman wrote to her colleagues in an effort to explain herself and, despite Republican calls and calls from state Democrats for her to do so, said she would not resign.

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