High winds in Connecticut — literally and politically speaking

Political winds were blowing in Connecticut last week, though not nearly as hard as the tornadoes and violent thunderstorm that caused devastating damage, particularly in the western portion of the state, and took two lives.

One political casualty of Tuesday’s lightning, high winds and torrential rain was attendance at the “unconventional convention” held that evening in Hartford by independent gubernatorial candidate Oz Griebel and his running mate Monte Frank.

That was, relatively speaking, only a sideshow…

… Compared to the fallout from the Republican Party’s earlier convention, which endorsed one candidate but did little to head off a potential seven-way primary in August.

…And to the uncomfortable machinations among Democrats in the runup to their convention, where Ned Lamont got the gubernatorial nod over Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim on the first ballot.

mark pazniokas / ctmirror.org

Ned Lamont and Susan Bysiewicz outside the convention center.

Before the Dem’s weekend convention, the Democratic contest for the lieutenant governor nomination already was getting testy when Eva Bermudez Zimmerman – potentially the first Hispanic nominee for any statewide post – announced she would challenge former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, a former gubernatorial challenger turned Lamont’s choice as running mate. (Bysiewicz’s change of status is not without its financial complications.) 

Little had changed in the lieutenant governor contest by Saturday. Bysiewicz narrowly won the party’s endorsement, but will face an August primary challenge from  Zimmerman.

Midweek, the tussle for the Democrats’ 5th Congressional District nomination was almost as wild as the weather, leaving former First Selectman Mary Glassman of Simsbury narrowly the choice over Waterbury teacher Jahana Hayes, who is expected to challenge in a primary.

Friday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who is not seeking re-election, thanked his colleagues for their past support and opened the Democratic convention by imploring his fellow party members to combat the policies of President Donald Trump. (Earlier in the week the governor announced that he would not impose scheduled increases in bus and rail fares because the legislature passed a budget making them unnecessary.)

Mark Pazniokas / ctmirror.org

Sen. Chris Murphy

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, nominated for re-election by acclamation, has been a major player in shaping Connecticut’s Democratic lineup and Friday urged his fellow party members not to allow internal divisions to distract them from taking back power from Trump and the Republican Party.

Murphy was also busy in Washington last week, where he is helping lead the charge against the Republican  “war on health” by blaming them for “sabotaging” the Affordable Care Act and potentially driving up insurance premiums. (The rent some low-income people must pay under the government’s public housing assistance program also would triple under a proposal by the Trump administration.)

Murphy and fellow Democrat Richard Blumenthal also supported the largely symbolic Senate bill to maintain so-called “Net Neutrality,” and both opposed the confirmation of Gina Haspel as new head of the CIA because, in Blumenthal’s opinion, she “fails the moral-compass test.”

For her part, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, a constant champion of the poor, delivered an impassioned speech in opposition to a Republican farm bill that, in her words, “would kick 2 million people off food stamps and cut benefits by more than $23 billion.” Ultimately the bill failed following a Republican intra-party dispute over immigration.

Saturday the Democrats held their second day of deliberations. Along with Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, Comptroller Kevin Lembo won nomination for re-election and warned Connecticut Republicans that their refusal to criticize President Trump will work against them here at the polls.

Two other endorsed candidates —  Treasurer candidate Shawn Wooden, a former Hartford City Council President; and State Rep. William Tong of Stamford, seeking the attorney general post — might be wondering about the utility of a convention since they both will face three-way primaries come August.

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