(Updated) Some have opined that 2010 is the Democratic Party’s best chance at taking the governor’s office. The Republicans see an opportunity too, as was clear when 100 of the party faithful from east of the Connecticut River gathered Saturday morning to talk about how they plan to hold onto that seat.
“Having a Republican governor has been the only thing standing between total fiscal disaster, over taxation, over regulation, and running every employer out of the state besides the government,” Vernon Mayor Jason McCoy said. “I know people will get that before the election.”
The popular Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced in November that she would not be seeking re-election, which opened the floodgates for candidates on both sides of the aisle to jump into the race.
At the moment there are six Democratic and six Republican candidates for governor, some are exploring and some are candidates. One Republican will officially announce his candidacy Tuesday.
Newington Mayor Jeff Wright said he’s throwing his hat into the race on Tuesday. His platform, “cap taxes, cut government spending, and get Connecticut open for business.”
“You can’t be anti-business and pro-jobs,” Wright told Republicans Saturday.
Wright is now the third municipal official to enter the race on the Republican side. He joins Chester First Selectman Tom Marsh and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who also talked about making the state more business friendly and cutting government spending.
Marsh and Boughton disagreed on the proposals made in Rell’s state of the state address last week.
Marsh believes Rell should have used her bully pulpit to make some substantive changes to how government is run in her farewell budget address, while Boughton congratulated Rell on a job well done and wasn‘t critical of any of the proposals she made.
Larry DeNardis, the former Congressman and gubernatorial hopeful, talked about how he defeated Joseph Lieberman back in in 1980 and worked in Ronald Reagan’s administration. He also talked about how he helped cut taxes during Thomas Joseph Meskill’s administration back in the 1970s.
Tom Foley, the Greenwich businessman and former Ambassador to Ireland, joked that he called Cosmo magazine to ask when he could pose as a centerfold. He said they asked if he meant in the regular edition or the senior edition. The joke was a reference to newly elected Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown’s Cosmo photo shoot.
“What people care about most in Connecticut is jobs and the economy,” Foley said.
Initially a candidate for U.S. Senate, Foley didn‘t talk specifically about how he would help the state create jobs, instead he referred people to his campaign‘s Web site. He did say he wasn’t participating in the public campaign finance system because he didn’t want to be “part of the problem,” and use state money that could be spent to close the budget deficit.
He called on the rest of the candidates to join him in raising funds privately, which may be easier for him than the other candidates. Although Boughton said he was waffling on previous statements he made in which he has said he wouldn’t run if public campaign financing wasn’t in place.
Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele touted his executive and legislative experience. He talked about understanding firsthand what it’s like to work with a Democrat-controlled legislature.
“It ain’t going to work without a Republican legislature,” Fedele said. “We need to look at what we’re doing wrong and throw it out.”
He said the issue is not taxes, it’s jobs.
Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy stopped by the breakfast at the Rockville Fish and Game Club to remind party members to use their social networking skills to get the message out to their friends and build their contact lists.
He urged them to pick a candidate, get behind them, and build their contact lists because the days of the party levers and rotary phones is gone.
The six Republican candidates for governor were given four minutes to deliver their stump speech to the room.
The two candidates for U.S. Senate, Rob Simmons and Linda McMahon were given seven minutes to address the crowd.
“I’m not a career politician,“ McMahon said before going into the story about how she and her husband lost everything the first time they tried to build their wrestling empire.
“We laugh about it today, but we were devastated at the time,” McMahon said recounting the couple’s bankruptcy in the 1970s. With a little hard work and some “lady luck” McMahon said the couple took World Wrestling Entertainment public in 1999.
She talked about how the government should lower corporation taxes from 35 percent to 25 percent and said she’s opposed to cap-and-trade, a system of capping pollutants to fight global warming.
Simmons supported cap-and-trade as a Congressman, but as a candidate for U.S. Senate he opposes the idea. In an October blog post titled, “Listening and Learning” Simmons reversed his position on both cap-and-trade and the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as card check.
“After hearing more from the people who would be most affected by these bills, I became convinced they would cause more harm than good and I would oppose them in the Senate,” Simmons wrote.
Since entering the U.S. Senate race Simmons has been working hard at distancing himself from his moderate positions as a Congressman and beefing up his conservative credentials. In addition to carrying around a copy of the U.S. Constitution in his pocket Simmons added a tea bag for last year’s April 15th Tea Party rallies.
On Saturday he was still carrying the constitution, but he said he drank the tea.
It was English Breakfast and he got thirsty, he said. Some may consider that bad timing because Saturday afternoon Simmons was scheduled to attend a Tea Party event in Southington.
When asked if he embraced the Tea Party movement and their ideals, Simmons said he has spoken at Tea Parities across the state, but that he is still a Republican.
“I’m proud to be a Connecticut Republican,“ Simmons said. “If the Tea Party group want to support me, I need all the support I can get,“ he said.
Simmons called the whispers that he may be considering running for his old Congressional seat a “vicious rumor designed to undermine my campaign.”
Neither McMahon or Simmons took shots at each other in their stump speeches and Simmons focused more on Attorney General Richard Blumenthal than McMahon.
“The man in my opinion is simply Dodd-lite,” Simmons said of his opponent. He said while U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd had all the wrong answers, “Dick Blumenthal has no answers to the questions,” Simmons said. He went on to talk about how Blumenthal has created an anti-business environment in Connecticut.
McMahon said there was no strategy involved in not mentioning Blumenthal in her stump speech. She said sometimes she does and sometimes she doesn’t.