It was a bruising week in national and Connecticut politics, even by recent standards of partisan hardball.
Most of the bruising, of course, took place in Washington, D.C., where Democrats – Connecticut’s own Sen. Richard Blumenthal in particular – went to considerable efforts to show that the appointment of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh would inflict shift the court hard to the right, imperiling everything from women’s right to an abortion to state gun-control legislation.
Over the course of several days, Blumenthal and his Democratic colleagues attempted to adjourn the confirmation hearing on grounds that documents on Kavanaugh’s performance while employed at the White House had not been released, then asserted that some of the documents, once released, revealed a jurist whose memos were in conflict with his testimony before the Judiciary Committee that Roe v. Wade is “settled law.”
The hearings were not expected to change the favorable outcome of the vote confirming Kavanaugh, but coincided with the release by the New York Times of an anonymous op-ed by an unnamed administration senior official who claimed to be part of a collection of insiders working to thwart President Donald Trump’s most harmful impulses and decisions.
Friday the Democratic senators got a final warning from a Yale professor: Be careful what you wish for.
Back in Connecticut, two more men joined the elite group of those who would be governor: Libertarian Rod Hanscomb qualified for the ballot by submitting at least 7,500 signatures from registered voters; then Mark Stewart Greenstein of the Amigo Constitution Party met the petitioning threshold.
Why anyone would want to be governor is a question, given Connecticut’s fiscal problems. A Wall Street credit rating agency warned that the new federal cap on income tax deductions would likely make it more expensive for the state to borrow for school construction and other capital projects. Meanwhile, state Comptroller Kevin Lembo said Gov. Dannel Malloy’s hope for a second budget surplus might be wishful thinking.
In any event, the uptick in sales and income tax collections is not likely to make much of a dent in the looming multi-billion dollar deficits facing the state after the election. They served as the backdrop when Democratic candidate Ned Lamont and independent Oz Griebel spent an evening picking apart Republican hopeful Bob Stefanowski’s proposal to phase out the state income tax.
Stefanowski, for his part, joined the parade of candidates weighing in on the slow-motion disaster unfolding in communities with homes whose foundations are crumbling as the result of contaminated concrete. He said the homeowners’ insurance companies should be shouldering the multi-billion-dollar costs and was skeptical as to the state government’s obligation to help.
The Republican has stepped up his political fund-raising after surviving a five-way primary campaign financed with $2.3 million of his own money.
Connecticut health insurance customers, meanwhile, appealed to the state insurance commissioner who must soon rule on rate increases ranging from 9 to 13 percent. Democrats in Washington also warned that Kavanaugh’s confirmation and a lawsuit working through the courts from Texas could obliterate the Affordable Care Act and leave persons with pre-existing conditions without insurance.
None of this news is particularly inspiring to Connecticut businesses who, when surveyed, said they are less confident about Connecticut’s economy than they are in the nation’s as a whole.
And here’s some additional worrisome information: At least two-thirds of black and Hispanic students in Connecticut are behind in math or English – percentages that have not budged over the last four years despite various state education reform efforts during that time.