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Lessons from Election Day, 2014

• You know you’re having a bad day on the job when the President of the United States has to call a local radio station to cover for your dumb self.

I’m talking of course about Hartford’s Registrar of Voters’ Office great snafu, the one where Secretary of State Denise Merrill had to cast a provisional ballot and Governor Dannel Malloy had to wait 30 minutes to vote because no one had delivered voting lists to that polling place and a dozen others.

Merrill is threatening to prosecute the Hartford registrars, although which of the three right now will face charges seems uncertain. My bet would be on Olga Vasquez, because as the Democratic Party office holder, in a city with a majority Democrat population, she is most culpable.

And Olga’s history of petty garbage with Working Families Party registrar Urania Petit points circumstantially to Olga being more interested in protecting her little fiefdom than actually running elections. We’’ve only bee doing elections for 225 years, we can’t be expected to get it right all the time.

And this is not Olga’s first snafu. This time, she cried “Budget cuts,” but to me, that doesn’t cut the mustard. You have one job to do, once a year, and you dropped the ball. Resign in shame, Olga, and bother us nevermore.

The worst part is that the city will likely have to provide some level of criminal representation to the trio of registrars should Secretary Merrill bring charges with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

Olga and Nathalie Feola-Guerrieri from Corporation Counsel’s Office are made for each other. Enjoy the SEEC.

• This, of course, leads directly into the next game of thrones: who will run against Mayor Pedro Segarra? Who will organize a group to take over town committee and replace the losers who consistently give us corrupt or inept buffoons as candidates?

Some wags claim that Eddie Perez and his philosophy of running town committee has left it in a shambles, and it needs rebuilding. Other wags agree Hartford has no bench. What is to be done about the political brain drain crushing our city.

• I was wrong about Sen. Art Linares in the 33rd district. I suspected he would lose in a head-to-head with a Democrat. Emily Bjornbeg, his competition, was clearly overmatched. Paging Melissa Schlag, First Selectwoman of Haddam: you seem like a good person to match Linares in 2016.

• It will be a long two years for progressives on the national front. Losing Colorado’s environmentalist Sen. Mark Udall, North Carolina’s partly decent Sen. Kay Hagan and Arkansas’ maybe ok Mark Pryor leaves the national Democrats stretched thin.

The unbelievable level of dark money that flowed into this election makes me loathe to concede that people really think Republicans will do better for them economically in Congress.

The academic work showing how people vote their emotions more than facts explains this situation. But it leaves us in a divided country.

• On WNPR yesterday (after President Obama called into Colin McEnroe’s show to reassure Hartford voters turned away from the polls in the morning), I heard a story about how some families in Wisconsin can no longer have holiday dinners together because they can’t put politics aside.

Neighbors no longer speak to each other. These are the kinds of stories we heard from the war between the states: brother against brother. I fear for my country, but given the amount of wealth the corporatists stand to make from stalliung any progressive reform for at least another two years in Congress, I am confident any great upheaval is many more years away.

And that’s what we will see on the national level for the next two years: divisive politics stressing cultural issues that play to the GOP base while the economic situation deteriorates more for the average person.

With no third party waiting in the wings, will red staters turn to the Democrats in 2016 after the GOP has so distinctly failed them? Probably not.

• Had the CT GOP selected John McKinney in the primary, we would be looking at Republican governor. More suburban Democrats would have broken for the more palatable McKinney.

What is it, then, with the Republican love affair with wealth? This Horatio Alger myth that we can all be rich has been proven false, time and time again. So why do people vote like it is true? It happens in Kentucky, Kansas and elsewhere.

• Connecticut’s landscape of elected officialdom appears to have changed very little. The national GOP wave seems to have avoided Connecticut. Our national delegation remains the same: Larson, DeLauro, Courtney, Himes and Esty all won in cakewalks.

At least now, it does not appear there will be any indictments coming out of the Fifth Congressional district this year.

Maybe 20 new legislators will take the oath of office, some because of incumbent retirements, and maybe eight because incumbents were defeated. A small portion, really, compared to the national GOP tidal wave.

The incumbents losing were mostly Democrats in suburban and rural districts, where we would have expected some level of change.

• Bill Curry on WNPR’s evening election coverage from Real Art Ways, now seeming to be a regular tradition, was insightful and hilarious. I’m the only person in the country to lose two statewide races to a twice-convicted felon, Curry said.

Then, Curry described how this was the most expensive gubernatorial race in Connecticut history, and how state contractors and regulated industries poured unprecedented amounts into the election.

But just as he was going to ask what those regulated industries were going to expect in exchange for their contributions, Colin McEnroe cut him off and and tried to joke that they’ve been waiting so long for the gubernatorial results that the busway is now complete.

Colin opines and bemoans about dark money and corruption in politics, yet it was an interesting moment to see him cut Curry off like that. Curry is too good of a politician and friend to go eye-for-an-eye with McEnroe’s cheap blindside on the air.

Mind you, McEnroe enjoyed a dream Election Day on the radio. I love Colin, and am forever indebted to him for his principled stand defending all of our civil rights after my January 2007 false arrest.

But Colin yesterday showed he is no Amy Goodman. In 1996, when President Bill Clinton called Goodman at Pacifica’s New York City flagship WBAI for a similar get-out-the-vote call, Goodman mocked glad-handing and grilled Clinton over depleted uranium shells in Kosovar water supplies.

When President Obama called McEnroe yesterday, McEnroe started with a nervous giggle, asked a few softballs about turnout and then beat his chest about the Green Bay-Chicago NFL contest on Sunday.

Colin, I listened to the segment twice. Congratulations on the feather in your cap; it’s a huge accomplishment, an interview I am jealous of since I will never land it. But perhaps Malloy’s people told Obama to call you because they knew you would kid-glove him.

Your columns hack away at dark money and corruption. Yet you asked the President nada about changing the campaign finance landscape, where unknown millions poured into Connecticut’s “publicly financed” gubernatorial race?

And not even a peep about the drone strike in Yemen that killed 20 on election day? There’s due process for you.

• The biggest takeaway? America’s march towards a more unjust society continues, blessed by an uninformed electorate. In 2010, Connecticut’s 10 richest people held assets worth $33 billion. Today, the nine richest are worth $50 billion. No election can change that.

 

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