Dan Carter’s been in the news a lot, lately. Unfortunately for state Rep. Dan Carter, R-Bethel, who is challenging Sen. Richard Blumenthal this year, the Dan Carter that dominates the first page of any Google search is a rugby player in New Zealand. Their Dan Carter’s been battling a doping allegation. Ours is battling total indifference.
You’re forgiven if you forgot about any other races happening this year. Trump-Clinton has taken up so much of my mental energy that I’m not taking joy in the usual things, like election yard signs and financial disclosure reports. It’s apparently such an awful election year that it’s actually making people sick.
In this kind of climate it’s easy to forget about even the high-profile U.S. Senate races, like the ones happening in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. When it’s a race that was a foregone conclusion before it even began, it’s nearly impossible to remember it’s happening at all.
That’s been the case for all of Connecticut’s congressional races this year. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) hasn’t come around with mean, snarky press releases, the big donor money hasn’t flowed in from out of state, and the polls haven’t flown fast and furious. The Democratic lock on the Congressional delegation is firmly set in place, and it certainly won’t be moved this year. Connecticut’s history as a stronghold for penny-pinching yet socially liberal Republicans is buried deeper and deeper beneath the surface with every election.
This is an especially rough year for Connecticut Republicans seeking federal office. Not only is it a presidential year, when Connecticut Democrats traditionally benefit from increased turnout and interest, but there are no open seats and no vulnerable freshmen. Incumbents are nearly impossible to pry loose from their seats in Congress even when they struggle, and our set of seven are all relatively popular.
This leaves their Republican opponents in a lonesome, forgotten place. And as the election draws nearer, they’ve resorted to all kinds of tactics to try to get voters’ attention.
Carter himself has been throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the resilient, popular Blumenthal trying to stoke the ire of voters. For instance, the University of Connecticut has recently been scratching at the door of the Big 12, a so-called “Power 5” athletic conference, howling despondently to be let into a place where the TV money flows like a glorious golden river. The Big 12 snubbed them, and Carter decided to pin the blame on Blumenthal.
The story is that when Boston College bolted the Big East for the ACC, Blumenthal, as the attorney general of Connecticut, sued them. In response, Boston College supposedly blackballed UConn when it tried to get into the ACC itself. This, Carter points out, is why the school is stuck in some measly little sad conference with what I can only assume are a bunch of nerds who don’t care enough about sports.
The whole point is to underscore Blumenthal’s tendency to sue everyone and everything, even over stuff that doesn’t seem to matter at all, and to suggest he doesn’t always make the best decisions. It’s still very much an attack that anyone who hasn’t been religiously following UConn’s conference woes will scratch their heads over. On the list of things people in Connecticut care about, UConn football’s ability to get crushed at home by a bunch of teams from the Big 12 likely ranks pretty low.
Carter also tried getting in on the Harambe meme fun. If you haven’t been keeping up on your memes, Harambe was a gorilla who was killed when a young boy climbed into his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. He’s found a very strange afterlife in a whole bunch of online memes and jokes, and so Carter decided to post a picture of Harambe with the words, “Neither Harambe Nor Dick Blumenthal Ever Made it to the Jungle, But Only One Lied About It,” referencing Blumenthal’s exaggeration of his service in Vietnam.
It only got 30 retweets. That is just sad.
Blumenthal, for his part, has had the luxury of being able to completely ignore his opponent. He has wildly outspent him, and is generally preparing to lazily cruise to re-election. He also won’t have to debate him more than once, because TV stations in Connecticut aren’t interested in airing a debate for a race that voters don’t care about.
The polls, unsurprisingly, show Carter being absolutely annihilated by Blumenthal. And because no one’s paying attention, he has no opportunity to change that. It’s enough to make a man want to take up rugby instead.
Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.
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