Most candidates in the primaries for the Republican nominations for governor and lieutenant governor advertise themselves as "conservative," since the party is generally conservative and its primary voters are heavily so. But the advertising leaves "conservative" undefined, and the candidates seem to think that conservative Republicans need only to hear the word before responding reflexively with approval.
Conservatives may be more demanding than that. Are they really supposed to be persuaded by, for example, television commercials touting "conservative businessman Bob Stefanowski" for governor when the candidate has no record in public life and no one ever heard of him before he set out to buy the nomination?
The Hartford Courant quotes Darien First Selectwoman Jayme Stevenson, a candidate for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, as saying Connecticut needs consensus builders, "not people who stand on some kind of political ideology." Yet, though the Courant didn't report it, Stevenson's own advertising describes her as a "conservative Republican."
Of course after the primary most of this "conservative" stuff will disappear from Republican advertising since Connecticut's electorate is liberal or libertarian on social issues. But given state government's financial collapse, the electorate is also growing more skeptical if not quite yet conservative on financial issues. At least there is a case to be made for something different from the uncritical liberalism whose political correctness correlates heavily with financial collapse.
Will any candidates make that case well? If so, will they overcome the attacks of the state's politically correct news organizations?
Such an attack was placed on the front page of The Hartford Courant this week as the newspaper maliciously described as an extremist the lieutenant governor candidate endorsed by the Republican state convention, Southington state Sen. Joe Markley.
Unlike other candidates, Markley doesn't have to advertise himself as conservative, as he has a long record on issues that appalls the Courant. But it may not be as appalling as the Courant thinks.
Markley, The Courant notes, would require parental notification of abortions for minors. But most people in Connecticut probably would support changing abortion law that way to prevent concealment of child rape, of which the state has had some horrible cases the Courant has declined to report plainly.
Markley, The Courant continues, favors local option on fluoridation of public water supplies -- not because fluoridation is a communist plot but because it medicates people without their consent and because fluoride treatment is easily available otherwise. Preventing involuntary medication actually seems like a liberal position.
Markley, The Courant notes, was the only legislator to vote against a bill purporting to require formal consent for college students having sex. The proposal was politically correct but will accomplish little amid the usual conflicting testimony.
Markley, The Courant says, was a TEA Partier before the party started. TEA stands for "taxed enough already." Horrors! So which candidate for governor is airing commercials declaring that the middle class is overtaxed and "working families have paid enough"? That's no right-winger. It's liberal Democrat Ned Lamont.
Right or wrong, Markley may be the only candidate in the primaries who has a record on state issues and can explain it thoughtfully and cordially. At least in that respect he is very much out of place.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn.