A guy like me has nothing better to do than to harass party politicians both Democrat and Republican about their candidate preferences.
Next year, 2010, is a Goliath election year and the cycle has already begun for high profile elections for governor, U.S. senate, congress and state legislative seats.
The past few days I checked in with my usual suspects for charting the standing of elected officials and potential challenges. Hey, how’s Chris Dodd doing in Bridgeport?
“What the hell has he ever done for me?” is the recurring rejoinder in quintessential Bridgeport Democratic yap. So it goes in city politics.
But to paraphrase the what’s-he-done-for-me mantra — what’s Dodd done for the state’s largest city in 30 years in Washington? Can Dodd point to anything that’s his own: a bridge, a development, a building, a school? When a pol’s in trouble, and the senior senator from Connecticut is certainly in trouble, would be nice to say I did that for you. Something beyond the family leave bill or reeling in credit card companies. Of course, Dodd and his campaign team will manufacture something he’s done here and there.
Meanwhile, Dodd has challengers, including on the Democratic side Merrick Alpert of Mystic, an engaging new face who brings a business background to the table to contrast Dodd’s lifetime in Washington politics. (For more on Alpert www.merrickforachange.com)
Dodd, who will be well financed, will not be easy to defeat in a primary. Unlike Joe Lieberman who lost to Ned Lamont in a primary in 2006 as a result of a liberal revolt over his war record (he won the general election as an independent) Dodd appears to be in decent standing with his core liberal constituency.
But overall Dodd has a trust problem that runs deep with pocketbook voters: you used your position to take care of yourself while we were getting screwed. That’s toxic stuff to overcome, and Alpert must find a way to tap into that anger while explaining why he’s a better choice.
On the GOP side, Dodd challengers include Rob Simmons, former congressman from eastern Connecticut, and Waterbury State Senator Sam Caligiuri.
Simmons’ higher name recognition has propelled him in head-to-head match ups with Dodd in Quinnipiac University polling. But a number of local Republicans say Caligiuri is the stronger general election candidate. Sam is not Dodd and he’s not Simmons. Translation: he’s not from Washington.
Jack McGregor of Black Rock, founder of the Bridgeport Bluefish, who served two terms in the Pennsylvania state senate, is actively campaigning for Caligiuri. McGregor, a lifelong Republican, is banging phones and sending letters to his Republican friends in Fairfield County to support Caligiuri.
So is former Bridgeport State Senator Rob Russo who served with Caligiuri at the state capitol. McGregor and Russo introduced Caligiuri to a core group of Republican supporters the other day. Time to make friends and raise money.
Simmons and Caligiuri will not be alone in the senate mix. Republican Tom Foley, former ambassador to Ireland, says he’s getting in.
And stockbroker/economic prognosticator Peter Schiff of Darien is also taking a look.
However it turns out Dodd is scratching for his political life. Now, excuse me while I continue to harass city politicians.
(When you’ve gotten your fill at the Connecticut Post Web site check out my daily blog at www.onlyinbridgeport.com)