At the height of election season, separating truth from lies, fact from fiction, and myth from reality is a challenge. It’s true in both Connecticut and Washington, D.C., as the November balloting nears.
In Washington, the nomination and ultimate confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as the newest member of the U.S. Supreme Court revealed polar differences in perception of – and portrayal of — the relevant facts.
What some U.S. senators cast as a “thorough” FBI investigation of Christine Blasey Ford’s report of sexual abuse by Kavanaugh when they were in high school, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal called a “whitewash.” Blumenthal also tried to help one of Kavanaugh’s former classmates at Yale send the FBI emails that show Kavanaugh was trying to discredit Deborah Ramirez, a former Connecticut resident and another who alleged abuse by Kavanaugh.
President Donald Trump reacted to Blumenthal’s charges of a cover up by reminding the public, in exaggerated terms, of how the senator misrepresented his military service years ago.
And when Trump mocked Ford at a rally in Mississippi, some Connecticut sexual assault survivors worried they would receive similar treatment if they came forward. Similarly, Ramirez’s lawyer said he was concerned “that the FBI is not conducting – or not being permitted to conduct – a serious investigation.”
Differences between Connecticut candidates were no less stark. Republican Manny Santos and Democrat Jahana Hayes, while at least civil, couldn’t be further apart on nearly every significant political issue of the day.
Hayes, a former national teacher of the year, has been advocating for a program designed to increase the number of minority teachers in Connecticut schools; while a growing number of teachers are pursuing election to political office.
Santos, the former Meriden mayor attempting to take Rep. Elizabeth Esty’s 5th District seat away from the Democrats, is facing an uphill struggle in a race rated solidly Democratic.
The race for governor appears to be tight, however – at least among older voters who are also the most likely to vote. An AARP survey found support among them for Republican Bob Stefanowski and Democrat Ned Lamont almost evenly divided. There was little recognition for underfunded independent candidate Oz Griebel, who differs from Lamont and Stefanowski’s position that a huge future budget deficit can be solved by cutting taxes.
(Speaking of the deficit, it seems an uptick in tax receipts may bring this year’s budget surplus to about $2 billion — still less than half of the red ink Connecticut’s next governor and legislature must solve beginning in February.)
Lamont also has a plan to form a business advisory group to help recruit and retain businesses in Connecticut. Stefanowski, who like his opponent has been self-funding his campaign, announced he has recently raised $1.5 million for his warchest.
As often happens as time draws short, the campaign ads for both Lamont and Stefanowski have had some misleading content. One Stefanowski ad that mentioned the Democrat’s wife really got under Lamont’s skin.
Lamont and Stefanowski are not the only ones stretching the truth. Take, for example, the oft-quoted notion that Gov. Dannel Malloy approved the two largest tax increases in Connecticut history. It’s a myth. Here are the six biggest ones.
And how about Malloy’s “Second Chance Society” initiative and his rules for early release of prison inmates? State Sen. Len Suzio, R-Meriden, who is running for re-election, says they are putting the public at risk. An analysis suggests that is anything but clear.
(For his part, Malloy is planning for life after his term expires, including spending a semester as a lecturer at his old alma mater, Boston College Law School.)
Malloy’s move to consolidate the state’s universities and community colleges has drawn both praise and criticism — something the candidates, of course, have been hearing a lot about. There is little disagreement that the Connecticut State College and University system is in a financial bind.
The newly elected officials will certainly have to deal with problems in the juvenile justice system — including fallout from the closure of the Connecticut Juvenile Training School earlier this year.