Jodi Rell isn’t the only Republican spewing over a Democratic budget proposal that she says will tax Connecticut residents into the poor house.
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney of Fairfield is shoulder to shoulder with the governor castigating legislative Dems for what they do best — raise taxes, especially on the wealthiest of Connecticut residents most of whom come from Fairfield County.
Yup, Fairfield County, voter base for Republicans, pretty much covers the vig for the rest of the state. Every time Dems want to raise taxes they’re sticking their middle finger at Fairfield County. And smack in the middle of Fairfield County, the wealthiest county in the wealthiest state in the wealthiest country (usually), is Bridgeport, the state’s largest city which absorbs many of the social programs and tax-exempt properties that also service the suburbs.
The majority Democratic budget restores cuts in the Rell budget that impacts Bridgeport social programs as well as tourist attractions such as Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo and Discovery Museum. And perhaps somewhere there’s a middle ground. We ain’t there yet.
In 2008, Jim Himes rode the Barack tsunami into Congress on a city plurality not seen in 40 years, defeating 20-year Republican incumbent Chris Shays who won the seat after the passing of the popular Stewart McKinney, John McKinney’s father.
John McKinney is gearing up for a run against Himes in 2010 when the political landscape will be entirely different. For one thing, no Barack on the ballot. For another, the turnout in Bridgeport will be lower. And yet another, suburban voter drop off during gubernatorial cycles is not nearly as large as city drop off. Himes will have to win it on his own record positioned on the ballot next to a wounded (for now) U.S. Senator Chris Dodd, if Dodd survives a primary against Mystic businessman Merrick Alpert.
What made Stewart McKinney an engaging local political force in Connecticut’s Fourth Congressional District was his passion for Bridgeport. Father Panik Village, that crime-plagued former housing project on the East Side, was leveled 20 years ago because McKinney made it happen during the mayoral tenure of my former boss Tom Bucci.
Right now Himes is playing the Santa role, highlighting Barack’s stimulus-package goodies aiding his 17-town district. By next year the perception of that rhetoric needs to become a voter reality, or McKinney will fillet him for a do-nothing bloated spending package.
Meanwhile, Himes’ political operatives will be scrutinizing John McKinney’s voting record in the State Senate.
Washington campaign cash will flow, Fairfield County money as well. And right in the middle of the battle will be Bridgeport as Himes tries to maximize his Bridgeport vote while McKinney tries to cut into it while running up numbers in down county Republican towns.
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