2010 was anything but a quiet political year, and if you’re anything like me, you’re probably looking forward to a bit of a breather before the 2012 election cycle starts up. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be a lot of important political stories to watch out there this coming year! On the contrary. Here’s a list of topics I’ll be keeping an eye on.
1. Budget Fights
Incoming Gov. Dan Malloy has been signaling that his first budget is going to be a tough one, and there’s sure to be plenty in there for legislators, unions, lobbyists and citizens to criticize and fight over. The budget will likely be the battleground for all kinds of struggles over how Connecticut responds to crisis, what our priorities as a state should be, and what kind of future we want to have. The way the legislature responds to the new governor (who will be the first governor since Thomas Meskill in the early 1970s who did not serve in the legislature) during Malloy’s first session will also likely set the tone for the relationship in the future. Malloy will present his budget in February.
2. Lieberman vs. Everybody
I don’t believe for an instant the nonsense coming out of Beltway pundits that U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman’s excellent work on getting Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repealed signals some kind of reconciliation between our now-senior senator and his former party. The gulf between Lieberman and Connecticut Democrats is simply too wide at this point, and there’s no chance he’ll be the party’s nominee in 2012—leaving him to pursue a difficult race as an independent or a Republican. His chances aren’t good.
Several high-profile Democrats, including Rep. Chris Murphy (D-5th District) and Rep. Joe Courtney (D-2nd District) have already indicated some interest in the race, and I imagine 2011 will see a few other Democrats thinking of jumping into this one. Republicans will likely develop their own field, and so Lieberman will have to make a choice about what he wants to do. Anyone who seriously wants a shot at this seat will have to start building an organization and raising money before 2012.
3. Special Elections
Gov.-elect Dan Malloy and other incoming constitutional officers have been tapping sitting members of the legislature for positions in the administration. At least five special elections will happen sometime in March, with possibly more to come. Republicans will have a chance at picking up a few of these seats, which might be a nice morale booster for a state party that frankly had a miserable 2010. New members joining the legislature early in 2011 plus many new committee chairs will make for a somewhat different General Assembly than we’re used to.
Now that the 2010 census is done, it’s time to redraw congressional and legislative districts before the 2012 elections. This page lays out the basic timetable for the redistricting procedures. Of note is that either the legislature has to approve the plan by a 2/3 margin, or the governor and the four top legislative leaders will appoint a panel to prepare a plan. Redistricting will be less controversial than in 2001, when the state lost a congressional seat, and the sixth and fifth districts were merged.
5. Municipal elections
The first round of municipal elections will be held in May, when a select few towns and boroughs go to the polls, followed by the rest of the state in September (for primaries) and November. In 2009, Republicans did very well in municipal elections, so it’ll be fascinating to see whether they can hold on to those gains.
What big stories will you be following in the New Year?
Susan Bigelow is the former owner/author of CTLocalPolitics.com. She lives in Enfield with her wife and cats.