Susan Bysiewicz

Chris Powell: 'Diversity' Democrats start at the top

With two zillionaire candidates hoping to win their party's primary for governor with pervasive advertising, Connecticut's Republicans aren't the only ones being asked to nominate candidates nobody knows but who want to start at the top.

Connecticut's Democrats are being asked to do it as well, only instead of money, the basis of the pitch to start at the top is "diversity."

In the 5th Congressional District, the candidate endorsed last week by the party's district convention, former Simsbury First Selectwoman Mary Glassman, the party's candidate for lieutenant governor in 2006, is being challenged in a primary by Jahana Hayes, of Wolcott, a Waterbury teacher who was national teacher of the year in 2016. Hayes has no record in public life and her claim on the nomination is frankly that she is black while Glassman is white and the Democratic ticket needs racial diversity. So much for Glassman's having been Simsbury's first Democratic chief executive in 40 years, diversity in political substance.

At the Democratic State Convention last the weekend, ethnic diversity was claimed as justification for a primary for the nomination for lieutenant governor.

Former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, who in pursuit of party unity ended her candidacy for governor to become the lieutenant governor candidate of Ned Lamont, the choice of party leaders for governor, was challenged by Eva Bermudez Zimmerman, of Newtown. Zimmerman is a government employee union organizer who lost a race for state representative two years ago. Her claim on the lieutenant governor nomination is only that she is of Latin American descent and Bysiewicz is white.

What is Zimmerman's expertise for high state executive office and what are her positions on the big issues? Announcing her candidacy, she didn't say and none of her supporters knew, though maybe, after her ethnicity, they think it is enough that she is a government employee union organizer, as if the Democratic Party needs to be even more identified with that predatory special interest.

Lamont has played along with this as much as he reasonably could. He has pledged to have the most diverse state administration in history and he solicited New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, who is black, to run with him as lieutenant governor. Harp would have been not just a "diversity" candidate but a well-qualified one, having been a state senator for many years before becoming mayor -- completely vetted and a known quantity. She declined Lamont's offer and the Democrats had no other well-qualified minority prospect for the lieutenant governor nomination.

Since the last eight years of Democratic rule have dragged state government into insolvency and given Connecticut nearly the worst economy in the country, it may be no wonder that the party prefers to stress race and ethnicity. But such things won't pay the bills.

This year's proliferation of candidates without records in public life emphasizes the usefulness of party conventions for vetting purposes. For conventions test the character of candidates and delegates alike in public, pushing some into betrayals or opportunism.

Further, while primaries properly provide the ultimate democracy in party politics and at last are fairly accessible to candidates in Connecticut, conventions introduce the party to itself and confer the judgment of its most committed members on its prospective nominees. That judgment isn't infallible but it's usually worth something.

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


Chris Powell: Casinos transfer wealth to the rich from the poor but liberals still like them

The Foxwoods casino complex (the world's largest), in Mashantucket, Conn.

The Foxwoods casino complex (the world's largest), in Mashantucket, Conn.

Nothing transfers wealth from the many to the few as casinos do, which is why they demonstrate so well the phoniness of what passes for liberalism in Connecticut. 

Libertarianism can justify casinos, but they are not justified by their claims of employment, since that employment is merely the mechanism of the transfer of wealth from casino patrons, disproportionately poor, to casino owners, always rich. 

So why does the clamor for enlarging casino gambling in Connecticut come mainly from supposedly liberal Democrats, most recently from Bridgeport's delegation in the General Assembly? 

Because the casino jobs will go disproportionately to their constituents while the victims of casino gambling will be drawn from all over, because the casinos will pay political graft locally, and because nothing matters more to liberals than raising government revenue, whatever the source. 

Fortunately for the advocates of a casino in Bridgeport there are two other issues -- the unfairness of Connecticut's current casino policy and its failure to maximize the state's royalties from the business. 

That is, state government long has conferred a monopoly on the two casinos operated by reconstituted Indian tribes in the southeast corner of the state in exchange for 25 percent of their slot-machine take. But the state has never required the tribes to bid again for their monopoly even as the revenue they send the state has been declining for years because nearby states have been getting into the business. 

Non-tribal casino operators  such as MGM, which soon will open a casino just over the Massachusetts line in Springfield,  would love to participate in an auction for casino rights in Connecticut. MGM maintains that a casino it would put in Bridgeport would pay royalties far exceeding what the tribes pay. Indeed, combined with the casinos being built in Massachusetts, a casino in Bridgeport might threaten the survival of the tribal casinos, cutting off most of their distant traffic and leaving them with a clientele that is mostly local and poor. 

The big question about a casino in Bridgeport may be how long it could operate before inducing New York to put full-scale casinos in New York City, Westchester County and Nassau County and New Jersey to put them in the Newark area. Such a time is almost certainly coming anyway, and Connecticut will have caused it by legitimizing the Indian casino racket in the Northeast in the guise of social justice and ethnic reparations 25 years ago. 

So what will happen with Connecticut's casino policy? Who will win -- the Indians, Bridgeport, or MGM? In any case it's not likely to be determined by any examination of the public interest. 


Jostling for a return to office in recent years, former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, a Democrat, has made herself a caricature of political ambition, opportunism, and calculation. 

She twice became a candidate for governor, withdrawing her second candidacy to run for attorney general, which offered her better prospects upon Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's decision to run for the U.S. Senate. But the state Supreme Court ruled imperiously that Bysiewicz lacked the lawyerly qualifications required by a manifestly unconstitutional statute. Bysiewicz then ran for U.S. senator but lost the Democratic primary. Lately she looked to move into various state Senate districts without Democratic incumbents. Last week she gave up on that and filed for governor again. 

So does Bysiewicz stand for anything besides ambition? Last week she celebrated having no connection to the administration of Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat not seeking re-election. Maybe that's a start. 

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn.