Former Gov. John G. Rowland predicted U.S. Rep. Jim Himes will lose his re-election campaign in Connecticut’s Fourth Congressional District, but the races for U.S. Senate and governor are “too close to call.”
“If Linda McMahon and Tom Foley, if they don’t at least have a four to five point lead going into election day they’re in trouble because the state employees are going to deliver a two or three point margin,” Rowland told a crowd of more than 100 Wednesday morning at the East Hartford Sheraton.
“I think Jim Himes in the fourth district is gone. He loses,” Rowland said. Himes is being challenged by state Sen. Dan Debicella of Shelton. He said the races in the Fifth and Second Congressional races will also be tight.
“The question is going to be turnout. I think 50 percent of the total turnout will probably be state employees, they have the most to lose or gain. That’s going to fair well for Blumenthal and it will fair well for Malloy.”
“These negative ads are so brutal it’s going to take an act of Congress and an act of real political courage for us to go out and vote on Election Day,” Rowland said. “It’s a negative blur and it turns everybody off and it’s only going to get worse.”
After a breakfast meeting with the East Hartford Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Rowland sat down to talk with CTNewsjunkie about the state’s current fiscal mess and what he would do to get out of it.
To set the stage he said the state has a more than $3 billion budget deficit and last year it delayed taking any action. “They borrowed money, raided the Rainy Day fund, swept some money from the Clean Energy Fund, and then failed to make a pension contribution,” he said.
“So they had a $900 million deficit and they didn’t increase taxes and they didn’t cut spending. They did the worst of all, which was to delay the problem and push it off, which compounds what we’re facing right now,” he said. Also the federal stimulus funds, which helped plug some of the holes, will be gone.
“The perfect storm is coming our way and the legislative leaders are oblivious,” Rowland said.
Asked if the budget can be balanced without tax increases, Rowland said “there’s no question there’s going to be a tax increase. Guarantee it. Guarantee it. The hole is so big and the political will to cut spending enough is not there.”
“The real job of the governor is to be a firewall,” Rowland said. “And the real power of the governor is the bully pulpit.”
But Rowland said both Democratic gubernatorial nominee Dan Malloy and Republican gubernatorial nominee Tom Foley “sound the same.”
He said they both go to the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and tell the leaders of cities and towns the same thing. They both go to the tourism conference and say they’ll put money back in the budget for tourism.
“On the budget stuff I don’t see a big difference and that’s a mistake on the Republican side,” Rowland said. “If I were him I’d say you know what as an example we’re going to privatize the motor vehicle department and save money.”
Rowland, a rehabilitated ex-felon, referred to his 9 months in prison as his “government sponsored sabbatical,” and jokes that he could run again, but his wife has told him she would kill him if he does.