Beginning next week, Democratic and Republican partisans across the Nutmeg State will assemble to nominate candidates for the November 2010 ballot starting with Judge of Probate conventions and continuing all the way to nominations for U.S. Senate and governor by the end of May.

As party rank-and-file ready themselves for this busy season, many on both sides of the aisle are sizing up candidates and forming opinions about who will best carry their party’s banner into the general election.  With a vast array of candidates for a multitude of offices, it can be a daunting task.

In the current bitterly-partisan environment, in which every debate is fought as a zero-sum game, perhaps delegates should include this question in their considerations: which candidate adheres so strongly to their principles that they will occasionally reach conclusions that are at odds with their ideological peers?

This isn’t as unusual as it might seem.

Last week at an event co-sponsored by the American Constitution Society and the Federalist Society in Hartford, the former Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Ira Glasser, and Atty. Allan Taylor, a former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and current Chairman of the State Board of Education, engaged in civil debate for more than an hour on the merits of the Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission.

Mr. Glasser, a gentleman whose bona fides with the ACLU were long ago established, offered a persuasive defense of the decision as a victory for the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution rather than the usual “the sky is falling on our democracy” rhetoric from liberal critics.

Rather than bending principles for passing whims, this steadfast defense of the Constitution speaks well of Mr. Glasser and his former organization.  Were it only that such a defense were present in Arizona, where persons of a certain color will now be forced to carry registration papers lest they come into contact with law enforcement.

An examination of principles and their logical conclusions would seem most welcome in the gubernatorial race. Though running in the face of gargantuan deficits and lingering economic torpor, prospective governors have lined up for an endless string of debates and town hall meetings that have provided precious little distinction among them.

If there has been any real value to these exercises to this point, it has escaped most observers.

But to those that think such a discussion would be merely a permit for further bloviating, the result of what happens when principles are devalued is quite clear:  Susan Bysiewicz becomes a statewide leader.  Her efforts at career advancement have been so devoid of principle that she was once nicknamed the “Queen of Mean” by the Hartford Courant and the validity of her latest attempt will soon be judged upon by the courts.

At a time when the issues are so complex and seemingly intractable, to have candidates distinguished by commitment to principle rather than television ads would be something of a novelty, but a welcome one nonetheless.

Heath W. Fahle is a policy analyst and consultant based in Manchester.  His background in political campaigns includes work for former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons and the Connecticut Republican Party. He also is the principal of Revolutionary Strategies LLC, a Web site design and consulting firm. Learn more at www.heathwfahle.com.