Democrats have controlled the governorâ€™s office and the General Assembly for eight years and polls suggest Connecticut voters are extremely unhappy with the state administration, what with the chronic insolvency, tax increases, and oppressive unfunded liabilities. So how will wealthy Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont, the partyâ€™s nominee to succeed Governor Dannel Malloy, address that unhappiness?
At the Democratic State Convention last weekend Lamont didnâ€™t address it at all. To the contrary, he seemed to promise more of the same, figuring that he can win anyway with an unprecedented degree of mobilization of state governmentâ€™s many dependents, particularly government employees and welfare recipients. (Several convention speakers appealed even to illegal immigrants, one asserting that Democrats donâ€™t care how anyone enters the country.)
Accepting the nomination for governor, Lamont acknowledged that state governmentâ€™s finances are awful but pledged not to balance the budget at the expense of state employees, teachers, and the poor. But thatâ€™s where most of the money goes. Who is left? Only taxpayers.
Lamont added that in writing the budget he will have â€śeveryone at the table,â€ť which sounded exactly like Malloy. Having been â€śat the tableâ€ť only to suffer Malloyâ€™s two record tax increases, taxpayers might prefer never to sit down again. Not that any Republican candidates for governor have offered a comprehensive solution to state governmentâ€™s insolvency, but most of them agree that state employee compensation must be curtailed. So there is no mistaking which side is the tool of the government class and which is not. To quell the Democratic conventionâ€™s unexpected clamor for more racial and ethnic diversity on the state ticket and the dissatisfaction of many delegates with his choice of former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz for lieutenant governor, Lamont pledged to create the most diverse administration in state history. He did not pledge to create the most qualified, competent, honest, and efficient administration, as no delegates were clamoring for that. For the diversity prattle is mainly cover for more patronage claims.
Providing the punch line to the diversity prattle was Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, who, having failed to qualify for a primary for governor by winning 15 percent of the votes at the convention, this week resumed his petitioning for a primary.
The Lamont-Bysiewicz ticket, Ganim said in a press release, was â€śinsensitive to the diversity of Connecticut.â€ť
That is, the ticket includes no one who has been convicted of corruption and done hard time in prison, for Ganim himself isnâ€™t on it.
Herbst skedaddles to Stamford
Announcing this week her plan to retire next year, University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst seemed to be anticipating a Republican state administration that will be unfavorable to the university and to her personally. But Herbst wonâ€™t be leaving the university payroll. She will skedaddle into a tenured professorship at UConnâ€™s Stamford campus, from which, presumably, she more easily can exploit lucrative part-time opportunities in New York when she isnâ€™t stuck teaching. Governor Malloy has let UConn run wild with money and political correctness and the universityâ€™s Board of Trustees wants to recruit Herbstâ€™s successor before a skeptical administration takes over.
Getting the university under control will not be easy. It will require replacing not just Herbst but the whole board.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Connecticut.