With the news Monday that M. Jodi Rell, the Governor of Connecticut, will not run for re-election, it seems like the next year of politics in my state will be one to watch. Rell is a Republican who took over as Governor after her predecessor, John Rowland, stepped down in the midst of a corruption scandal. She won a term of her own in 2006.
Despite Connecticut being in deep blue country – Democrats control both the House, Senate, and all of the other elected executive positions of Comptroller, Treasurer, Secretary of State, and Attorney General – Rell has enjoyed fairly high approval ratings for the last six years, even among Democrats. She’s down to 58% now, but her all time high was 84%.
So, add the leaving of Jodi Rell to the reasons one should watch Connecticut next year. There was already a good one, since beleagured Senator Chris Dodd is up for re-election. And there is another race that at least I’m watching as it holds some personal interest to me.
Unfortunately for Republicans, and for both races, a base conservative just isn’t going to win here. The state is overrun by Democrats in all facets of government, so someone who wins actually has to be able to work with them. Connecticut residents, while somewhat fiscally conservative (though trending more moderate than anything), are moderates to liberals when it comes to social views. So, as much as the conservatives may hate to hear it, if they want someone from their party running and representing Connecticut, it will be a moderate or no one at all.
This is why someone like former Congressman Rob Simmons has the best shot at Dodd’s seat. He is a Republican, yes, but not one so out of line with Connecticut’s general ideological leanings to not have a chance at a comeback. If you need any more proof, consider that his loss in Connecticut’s 2nd three years ago was by only 83 votes.
As for who has the best shot at the governor’s seat on the Republican side, I need to investigate some more. My original response, until Monday, would have been the incumbent herself. Suffice it for now to say that a reasonably moderate candidate from either side has a good shot. Rell has recently had trouble getting a budget passed (though the Democrats played a role), and her relationship with a Quinnipiac pollster is being questioned, so that may hurt the chances of the Republicans next year. Still, at this point I think either party has a decent shot.
Now on to that other race I’ll be closely watching, which incidentally takes place in Simmons’ old stomping grounds. The race is of personal interest to me because one of the people to throw in their hat is a former professor. This isn’t someone I know well beyond a professor-student basis, but the political science class I took with her a few years ago was one of my favorites. Daria Novak is a Republican (they do still exist in some political science departments), and of what I’ve been able to find out about her political views so far – she didn’t throw them around much in class, you see – is a Tea Partier.
Unlike the narrative written about the Tea Partiers by their opponents, Professor Novak is hardly a member of the lefty created of the “Obama is a fascist” sign holder stereotype. I shall be be interested to watch this election, to see how well Professor Novak does, but also because it’s clear to me that Connecticut needs at least some kind of Republican presence at the national level. One-party domination of any state is not healthy, and no matter which party is dominating.
So that’s all from Connecticut for now. I’ll more updates as time goes on.