Published: Sunday, October 09, 2011
Listen to the crowd nourishing itself at Linda McMahon’s ample campaign table and her main rival for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination, former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, is a RINO, a Republican In Name Only, an establishment career politician, and one of those squishy moderates from the era when … well, when a few people in high office in Connecticut were actually Republicans and the state had somewhat competitive politics.
Listen to Democratic State Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo and Shays is a MINO, a Moderate In Name Only, “President George W. Bush’s go-to guy” who “needs to explain how he won’t be a rubber stamp for the current Republican leadership just as he was for the previous Republican leadership.”
Six former Republican state chairmen endorsed McMahon the other day, bestowing the party establishment’s favor on the supposed outsider, the wrestling entrepreneur who spent an unprecedented $50 million running for the Senate only to lose by double digits, finishing next to last on the Republican ticket, behind candidates who spent nothing at all. Despite her barrage of mailings and commercials, the final polls found that most voters viewed her unfavorably. Last year was a Republican year nationally but a Democratic year in Connecticut. Next year is starting to look like a Republican year as well, and so the party might have a chance at a Senate seat from Connecticut, which the party hasn’t won since 1982.
While polls suggest that McMahon would be the weakest Republican nominee in the general election and that Shays would run strongly against any Democrat, the polls also show strong support for McMahon within her party in a primary for the Senate nomination. Of course winning the election may not be everything in politics, but then McMahon’s campaign last year proved that money isn’t everything either. Indeed, her campaign proved that, absent a candidate’s qualifications, character, and ability to speak with some relevance to the issues, money means nothing except a good time for those on the campaign payroll.
Competitive politics won’t be restored that way. That’s why the Democrats aren’t attacking McMahon now, just Shays.
Daniel C. Esty, Connecticut’s new commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), is being criticized for the consulting and speechmaking work he did while he was a professor at Yale University.
A few weeks ago Esty intervened, if only trivially, in a regulation issue involving Northeast Utilities, an electric company that paid him $205,000 over eight years prior to 2005. Now it turns out that two years ago Esty received a speaking fee of $7,500 from another electric company, United Illuminating. So is Esty unfit for his post?
The problem is largely of Esty’s own making. For while everyone going into government has some personal income or expense connection to businesses with a big interest in government policy — connections that often constitute some of their qualifications for office —upon his appointment Esty made a show of announcing that, to avoid potential conflict of interest, he would disqualify himself from any matters involving 28 businesses that paid for his consulting services within the last five years.
Why five years rather than, say, seven or eight, and why consulting fees and not speaking fees?
It was all a matter of Esty’s judgment as to what might feel right to him and look bad to others. Of course the judgment of others may differ, the more so as their politics differs with Esty’s — and Governor Malloy appointed Esty in large part because of his national renown as a politically correct business consultant, author, among other things, of the 2006 book “Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage.” Hence Republicans particularly may be more inclined to challenge the commissioner’s ethics. Continued…