“Nobody’s Man But Yours.”
When I ran against Lowell Weicker in his bid for re-election to the US Senate in 1982, we thought we could turn that campaign slogan against him and show him to be isolated and ineffective.
It didn’t work.
I still remember vividly days in that campaign when I would get picked up before dawn, visit three factories to greet workers heading for their shift, then five diners, two senior citizen centers, a high school, and two bowling alleys before getting dropped off at home just in time to watch the 11 o’clock local news.
There I would be subjected to at least three Weicker commercials, all the same, just 30 seconds each. A man would emerge from the shadows, not in uniform, but clearly looking more and more like General Patton. It was, of course, George C. Scott who had recently starred in the movie.
When he got close to the camera, he said “We need a senator with guts.” Pause. “And we’ve got one!”
I almost voted for Weicker.
I can’t say we didn’t like each other when he was a U.S. Senator and I was a U.S. Representative from the same state.
We just really didn’t know each other that well.
We both had reputations for being renegades within our respective parties.
His was well-earned as an early opponent of President Richard Nixon.
Mine was from some years as a thorn in the side of the state Democratic Party establishment before running for Congress at age 29 and beating its hand-picked candidate.
I had term-limited myself and, after four terms, declared my candidacy for the U.S. Senate, against Lowell.
He had a very hard path to his party’s nomination. One of the Bush family, Prescott, was running against him and, most observers felt Weicker might not survive the primary.
But the Senate Republican leadership eventually prevailed upon Bush to withdraw.
That made our challenge much more difficult.
Lowell ultimately prevailed, though not until after an anxious election night in which ABC News mistakenly projected me as the winner. One of the Weicker team told me some months later that Lowell had emptied a water-size glass of booze when he heard that.
I had run against Lowell from the left. There really wasn’t much room out there. (Six years later Joe Lieberman tried it from the right and won.)
Lowell, of course, landed on his very large feet and became Connecticut’s Governor.
At about the same time, my wife Myra and I and five of our six children moved back to DC. I had little, if any, contact with Governor Weicker.
But we found each other on the same stage endorsing Howard Dean for the Democratic nomination for President in 2004, and then, supporting a number of Democrats over the years, among them Joe Courtney and Chris Murphy.
In the early Fall of 2019, Gov. Ned Lamont visited my daughter’s store on the Guilford green. While there he sent me a video message saying “Toby, I had dinner with Lowell and Claudia last week. You should go see them.”
Which I did soon thereafter. I made the drive from Stony Creek to Old Lyme. We had a lovely visit.
I told Lowell I probably should have run for Governor in ’82 rather than have challenged him. He smiled and said “I agree… could’ve saved both of us a lot of money and energy.”
Before I left, I handed him a copy of our “Campaign to Defeat Lowell Weicker.”’
On it I inscribed, “To Lowell — This is what you overcame. Again, Congrats! Toby”
Rest in peace my friend.
Toby Moffett is a former member of Congress from Connecticut and is now a partner at Mercury Public Affairs, LLC.