Governor, Senate races heating up before the primaries, new poll numbers out

July 19, 2010
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This past week was one of the more dynamic weeks in Connecticut politics lately. Here are the highlights.

On Wednesday night, republican candidates for governor – Greenwich businessman Tom Foley, Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele and longtime MetroHartford Alliance regional chamber of commerce CEO R. Nelson “Oz” Griebel – debated on NBC 30 from their West Hartford studio. Among the discussed issues were the Citizens Election Program (CEP) which is Connecticut’s public finance system for political campaigns, education, jobs, taxes, possibly putting tolls on some of the main roads in the State. The candidates also discussed the possibility for alcohol sales on Sunday, a possible move which all three candidates generally approve of. Connecticut law currently bans the sale of alcohol on Sunday.

On Tuesday, two courts – at both state and federal levels – ruled on the CEP, Connecticut’s public finance system for state political campaigns. Judge Julia Aurigemma from the state Superior Court in Hartford ruled that Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele be granted $2.18 million denying Greenwich businessman Tom Foley’s and his campaign’s motion to bar Mr. Fedele from receiving the funds. Emergency appeal is expected as a lawyer from the Tom Foley campaign was reported as saying that this move is being considered. Meanwhile, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled out the program’s “trigger provision” clause that grants supplemental funds in accordance with an opponent spending on the grounds that such funds would “infringe on the wealthy candidate’s free speech rights,” ConnPolitics.tv reported. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals also reversed the U.S. District Court Judge Stefan Underhill’s ruling that the CEP creates an unfair burden for third-party candidates, overturned the claim that it is unconstitutional because it discriminates against them, and, the ruling also struck down the CEP’s provision that restricts lobbyists from making campaign contributions on the grounds that it violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution but upheld the one that restricts state contractors from making such contributions. The federal case is returned to Judge Underhill with instructions to further act on certain issues, as CTMirror.org noted.

Meanwhile, the state Senate Democratic leaders are considering a date for a special session of the assembly in an effort to address the two courts’ rulings, the Hartford Courant reported.

On Thursday, a Quinnipiac Poll survey on Connecticut showed that Greenwich businessmen Ned Lamont and Tom Foley are the frontrunners in their bids for the democratic and republican parties’ nominations, respectively, for governor. Unlike previously released polls, this time, the poll was based both on results from registered voters and likely democratic or republican primary voters. In the case with registered voters, the data show that Ned Lamont and Tom Foley have increased their lead to 20- (46-26 up from 39-22) and 34-percent margins (43-9 up from 39-12) compared to their main opponents – former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy and Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele respectively. In the case with likely democratic or republican primary voters, Ned Lamont is leading Dan Malloy by a 9-percent margin (46-37) while Tom Foley is leading Mike Fedele by a 35-percent margin. The latest Quinnipiac University Poll results also show that Democrats Ned Lamont and Dan Malloy are leading all three Republicans in the race – Tom Foley, Mike Fedele and Oz Griebel – in a possible general election so far. Oz Griebel is distant third in the republican primary race for governor.

On Friday, a Quinnipiac Poll survey on Connecticut showed that state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is leading former WWE corporate officer Linda McMahon by a 17-percent margin (54-37) in their bid for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by outgoing Chrid Dodd, a Democrat. Linda McMahon is the frontrunner in the republican primary race for the U.S. Senate leading former U.S. Representative Rob Simmons and economist Peter Schiff by 27- and 39-percent margins respectively (52-25-13) among likely republican primary voters who participated in the survey. In the case with registered Republican respondents, 53 percent would vote for Linda McMahon, while 20 percent would vote for Rob Simmons and 8 percent would vote for Peter Schiff. The results also show that Governor M. Jodi Rell has a 60-percent approval rating, while the state legislature’s approval rating is 28 percent and 58 percent disapprove of the way it is handling its job. Half of the respondents approve of the way President Barack Obama is handling his job, with 44 percent disapproving of it.

Meanwhile, the Dan Malloy campaign announced that CEUI/SEIU Local 511 endorsed the former Stamford mayor’s bid for governor adding to previous endorsements of other labor unions.

The Associated Press reported that Ned Lamont’s running mate in his bid for the Democratic Party nomination for governor, Simsbury First Selectwoman Mary Glassman, announced on Friday that she has submitted a request for grant to the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC). The commission is expected to act on it next week.

On Tuesday, Ned Lamont unveiled his plan to reduce health care costs titled Plan for Affordable, Accessible Health Care. According to a press release on his campaign website, the plan will create a cabinet-level position in an effort to find alternatives to nursing homes, reward state employees who take care of themselves, establish “medical homes” for families on state health care, enhanced medical records technology and a payment system to health care providers “based on how patients fare” instead of a “fee for service model.”

On Friday, the Tom Foley campaign announced that their candidate had reported to the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) over $350,000 worth of individual contributions for the second quarter which ended on June 30. The campaign added that Mr. Foley is having $1.2 million cash on hand.

On Monday, former state Senate Majority Leader George Jepsen, a Democrat, announced that he has raised the preliminary funding necessary to qualify for a $750,000 grant from the SEEC in his bid for state attorney general after having raised more than $75,000 from more than 13,000 individual contributions worth $100 or less. He will face the winner of the republican primary where Avon attorney Martha Dean and Connecticut Judicial Review Council Chairman Ross Garber. Both republican candidates have previously announced that they would not participate in the Citizens Election Program, the state’s campaign finance system.

On Tuesday, Connecticut Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz announced that she has launched a public awareness campaign for the statewide primaries scheduled for August 10 in an effort to urge the reportedly 840,000 unaffiliated voters in the state to register as Democrats or Republicans in order to be eligible to participate in the statewide primaries. Television and radio are already airing her taped messages that remind Connecticut voters that they can affiliate with the democratic or republican parties by 12 pm on August 9.

According to Connecticut Mastery Test annual data reported and analyzed by CTMirror.org, city public schools, especially Bridgeport’s, Hartford’s and New Haven’s systems have registered gains compared with the state as a whole since 2006 – when the Mastery Test was revised. An impressive gain was noted in fifth- and sixth-grade reading and mathematics.

On Thursday, U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman (I – CT) announced that Connecticut is awarded almost $15.03 million in federal homeland security grants. $8.89 million comes from the State Homeland Security Program, $2.8 million and $2.75 million come from the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) to Bridgeport and Hartford respectively, $317,419 comes from the Metropolitan Medical Response System, $178,606 comes from the Citizen Corps Program, and $75,000 comes from the Nonprofit Security Grant Program to St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, Senator Lieberman informed on his website.

On Monday, U.S. Representative John Larson (D, CT – 1st District) announced at Capital Community College that he will introduce the Lifelong Learning Accounts Act (LiLAs) which reportedly aims at, among other things, training and educating employees. On Tuesday, Representative Larson introduced LiLAs which was then referred to the House Education and Labor Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee. Campaign for a Working Connecticut (CWCT) and Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) are among the organizations that endorse the legislation.

On Tuesday, U.S. Representative Joe Courtney (D, CT – 2nd District) and U.S. Senators Chris Dodd (D – CT) and Joe Lieberman announced that $4,940,000 from the Federal Transit Administration’s Bus and Livability Grant Program will be granted to the Storrs Center Intermodal Transportation Hub and Transit Pathway. The grant, which was won on a competitive basis, will be used for building an intermodal hub in the heart of the Storrs Center downtown project in an effort to improve overall transportation services there.

Meanwhile, U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D, CT – 3rd District) announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development granted almost $9.09 million to Hamden, New Haven, Stratford and West Haven. According to her website, the grants are generally aimed at providing low- and moderate-income individuals in urban areas with affordable housing and increase the number of emergency homeless shelters.

On Thursday, Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell announced on her website that she urged trustees of UCONN, the State University System and the Community College System not to approve pay increases for non-union managers deeming them unaffordable for the time.

Meanwhile, the governor informed that Connecticut started again to use federal stimulus funds for short term employment programs on state park maintenance and improvement projects for teenagers and young adults. Governor Rell added that these project would complement the work of the Department of Environmental Protection officials.

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