Two members of his now former campaign staff have been indicted by the federal government, but it hasn’t diminished Democracy for America’s support of Chris Donovan.
The national political action committee founded by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean during his 2004 presidential bid is committed to progressive causes and candidates. The group, which includes 1 million members nationwide and 10,000 in Connecticut endorsed Donovan’s campaign on July 18 and it isn’t withdrawing its support.
Jim Dean, who lives in Connecticut and chairs the organization, visited Donovan’s campaign office in New Britain Saturday morning to rally the volunteers before a day of door knocking.
“We don’t look for candidates who are the most liberal. We look for fighters and truth tellers,” Dean told the volunteers.
He went onto explain why the organization was supporting Donovan instead of the other two Democratic candidates in the race.
“We feel very strongly this is a district where you just can’t send any Democrat,” Dean said. “We’re not just looking for a good vote. We’re looking for a candidate who will do something about public financing of elections.”
Ironically, it’s been Donovan’s record on public financing and how he worked to limit lobbyist contributions to campaigns that has helped him garner the support of good government groups, such as Democracy for America.
“There was no second guessing at all,” Dean said. “We really believe in Chris. I’ll be honest with you, the stuff that I’m reading does not square with what I know about this candidate and certainly does not square with his body of work, particularly the work he’s done on reforming the political process.“
David Pudlin, the former majority leader of the House who was one of the volunteers on hand Saturday, said the details offered up by the federal government’s indictments don’t square with Donovan supporters.
A federal indictment alleges that Donovan’s former finance director, Robert Braddock Jr., concealed the identity of donors who were seeking to influence roll-your-own cigarette legislation. He was allegedly helped in the scheme to trade Donovan’s influence for campaign donations by Josh Nassi, Donovan’s former campaign manager and deputy legal counsel.
The federal indictment “makes some of the innuendo all the more incredulous,” Pudlin said.
Pudlin fears the allegations will suppress voter turnout.
“If a person is inclined to want to be cynical about democracy or the process, this is a real opportunity for them to take that extra step,” Pudlin said.
Donovan’s volunteers want to make sure that doesn’t happen and that’s why they were knocking on doors Saturday.
“There is nothing more powerful and nothing more effective than your personal testifying for a candidate,” Dean said citing studies like this one by Donald Green of Yale.
“Show me a voter who is going to get all their information from TV advertising and radio advertising alone, and I’ll show you someone who may not be voting,“ Dean said.
Dean admitted “it’s a bit of a slog in the mud,” but it‘s a winning formula.
Pudlin said Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2006 is good evidence of this.
In 2006, when U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman was being challenged by Lamont, turnout for the Democratic primary was 43 percent. Compare that to 2010 when turnout among Democrats was 24.88 percent. Volunteers Saturday said the primary voters who they’re targeting won’t be away on summer vacations in August because they’re part of the working class and it’s likely they can’t afford a vacation.
Asked for his prediction, Pudlin said he wasn’t going to make a prediction about turnout this year because in 2006 he was off by more than 80,000 votes.