Chris Powell: In Conn., Dems reject their record and Republicans won't learn

  Hartford in 1877, as the nation came out of depression and the Industrial Revolution roared, especially in southern New England.    

Hartford in 1877, as the nation came out of depression and the Industrial Revolution roared, especially in southern New England.

 


What does this week's primary election for governor say about Connecticut's Democratic Party? 

First, it says that at least the party cannot rationalize Joe Ganim's corruption in office. 

Second, it says that the party has come down with a bad case of schizophrenia, as Ned Lamont, having won about 80 percent of the vote, delivered an extemporaneous and overwrought if not hysterical acceptance speech admitting that the party's eight years in control of state government have laid Connecticut low and it desperately needs to change direction. 

How does a party seek to keep power on a platform of repudiating its own record? 

What does this week's primary election for governor say about Connecticut's Republican Party? 

The victory of business executive Bob Stefanowski says that the party has declined to draw any conclusions from its four recent disastrous experiments with nominating for high office self-funding but unknown dilettantes whose ideology, ability, and character have never been tested in public. Each of those experiments produced damaging discoveries about the candidates in the closing days of their campaigns. Now it easily could happen again. 

Behind every great fortune, the French novelist Balzac wrote, is a great crime. Of course that's not entirely true, but their recent record suggests that Connecticut's Republicans might do better to start believing it. 

The Republican results also should teach all of Connecticut something. Stefanowski won with only 30 percent of the vote and the winner of the party's primary for lieutenant governor, state Sen. Joe Markley, may have won with just less than half. To prevent such impairments of democracy, when the field of candidates is large and the leader has not won a majority, state law should provide for runoff primaries and elections or what is called "ranked-choice" voting. 

A second primary between the two top candidates for the Republican nomination for governor well might produce a different result. In any case a runoff system encourages consensus and discourages candidates who cannot win a majority and indeed may even be extreme. 

Extremism is already the Democratic charge about Stefanowski, though Lamont himself has embraced a far-left agenda and has pledged obedience to the government employee unions. 



PARTY ON, HARTFORD: The Democrats' subservience to the government class was exposed again the other day when the Hartford Courant reported that the Malloy administration's $500 million bailout for Hartford city government has squelched even the tiniest bit of pension reform there. 

Prior to the bailout, Mayor Luke Bronin and the City Council planned to save money by disqualifying new, nonunion city employees from the city's defined-benefit pension plan. The new hires were to be offered a defined-contribution pension, a 401(k) plan. 

Now that the bailout has been secured, city government is no longer inclined to economize with pensions. Council President Glendowlyn Thames says her colleagues are thinking: "These are city employees. We should be providing them with good pensions." 

But since state government is reimbursing half of Hartford city government's budget every year and assuming all the city's long-term debt, the city's employees have become more the burden of all state taxpayers than Hartford's own burden. So thanks to the governor, Hartford, where nearly everyone is a Democrat, can party on. 


Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn.