Thursday January 17, 2008
The Connecticut Blog-o-rama is not happy today as we contemplate a General Assembly without Sen. Bill Nickerson. If the veteran Greenwich Republican is not the most-colorfully quotable lawmaker in the Capitol, he’ll do until one comes along.
And someone had better emerge soon, too, because yesterday, about a week short of his 69th birthday, Nickerson announced he won’t seek re-election in the fall, after 22 years making the long drive up from that elegantly upholstered rump end of Fairfield County.
“I have worked with four governors, cast 11,000 votes and driven about a quarter of a million miles on my commute to Hartford,” the ever-smiling Nickerson said in a statement. “There is a time to run for office, a time to serve in office and a time to move on. I have decided that that time has come for me.”
Nickerson, the long-time ranking member of the Finance Committee, is the go-to guy for a pithy, budget-related quote. Always accessible, Nickerson is articulate, funny, opinionated and knowledgeable in a Legislature where most lawmakers are none of the above.
“Bill Nickerson has served in the state Legislature for more than 20
years and Connecticut is a better place because of it,” said Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield. “He is a statesman in every sense of the word, and I feel fortunate to be able to count him among my most trusted friends and mentors.”
So while Nickerson’s imminent departure will be a loss for his district, it’s a chance for a former high-profile political wannabe.
Yes, Ned Lamont, who beat U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman in the contentious 2006 Democratic primary, but lost in the general election, should contemplate the vacancy. He threatened as much after Lieberman won re-election. But how do those Democratic numbers look in GOP-heavy Greenwich?
Well, in the 2006 Senate final, the Nedster didn’t come too close to Lieberman. Republican lightweight Alan Schlesinger netted 1,817 votes; Green Party nominee Ralph Ferrucci got 47 votes; Lieberman scored 11,160 ballots and Lamont came in with 8,258.
On that same Election Day, Nickerson beat the Democratic challenger by 6,018 votes. Still, Lamont should give it a whirl this fall and try to change government from the grassroots.
Unlike last time around, when he hemorrhaged millions of dollars in an ultimately losing proposition, Ned can now participant in the new public-financing program.