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Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Connecticut GOP Crisis Part 1: Replace the Chairman

We all know how miserable the results were for Connecticut Republicans in the last election.  And a good number of my friends invested incredible amounts of personal time and energy into trying to elect Republicans wherever possible.  Of course, we knew going in that many of these races were a long shot, and some of them were likely not winnable given the demographic certainties.  Notwithstanding the odds in places like Connecticut's First Congressional District, Republican activists forced Democrats to spend far more time and money to ensure the margins were sustainable to deliver a win not embarrassing to a sitting party leader.   

The party of Chris Healy
Where many of us still struggle to understand the results is in places where Republicans have previously held seats, and where polls showed Republicans ahead by decent margins just days prior to the election; I'm referring to Connecticut Congressional Fourth and Fifth Districts.  Given the tidal wave of Republican support across the country, it seemed a foregone conclusion that even in this traditionally blue state that at least those districts that leaned red would come through if, as projected, Republicans would show up, and Democrats stayed home.  Yet, Democrats won by substantial margins in both districts.

Another seat that could have been winnable for Republicans was the Connecticut Second Congressional District; a seat once held by Rep. Rob Simmons.  But this race was doomed from the start because it was sabotaged by Republican State Chairman Christopher Healy and his politicos even before the candidate, Daria Novak had legitimately landed the nomination.  Healy opted to push controversial news reporter Janet Peckenpaugh who had neither the background or capacity to hold the office.  More so, and adding further damage, Healy worked hard to undermine the nominated candidate by seeking a ruling that would enable the State Party to funnel money to candidates other than those nominated by the Party at the State Convention.  Healy's actions helped destroy any chance for Daria Novak to succeed.  Doug Dubitsky, a nice guy, probably didn't help matters by serving as a spoiler during the primary. 

I could devote a whole essay to the United States Senate Race.  Winning this seat was a tall order to begin with made more difficult by the State Chairman and a very rigged State Convention which saw Rob Simmons railroaded out of the nomination.  Linda McMahon spent a lot of money, and for every dime spent and every vote bought, it's pretty clear that that residents of Connecticut don't want anything to do with Linda McMahon.  I was concerned with McMahon from the start based on her background and history, and watched her campaign implode against a weakened Dick Blumenthal.  Her post-campaign comments about "not going away" have Republicans of all persuasions fearing the future, and praying that just goes back to Wrestling and leaves politics and Republicans alone.

And lastly, the Gubernatorial race played out like a bad B movie.  We saw massive failures of coordination at the onset, starting with a Republican Governor AWOL from start to finish, a Chairman disengaged from the race, which led to a bloody primary between Republican candidates who cut each other to shreds giving Democrats plenty of ammunition to use later on.  And we saw buses visiting places with more candidates than consituents, debates of shame, lack of issue management, and failed allocation of resources at key polling locations that proved costly in the final hours of the election. 

The bottom line is that our Connecticut State Republican Party leadership failed us.  And in the final analysis, things spiraled out of control starting before the nomination process ever began, and the results at every level will likely prove more costly to taxpayers than ever before.

So anyone reading so far is saying, "Hey King, that's great.  You've told us what everyone already knows. So repeating the same rhetoric doesn't buy you anything."

Well, fair enough.  It doesn't buy me anything.  And quite frankly I'm not looking to be bought, or sold on anything.  I'm just a voter who is sick and tired of being represented at the state and federal level by individuals who are counter-productive to our ability to create jobs and improve our Connecticut economy.  This is the central point that we should all be concerned with. 

If you thought Connecticut Republicans were angry before the election, you should listen to them now.  Normally after such a multi-tiered loss, people burn out and go away and recharge their batteries for a few months.  Instead, it appears that the outrage over party shenanigans and what is being seen as "step backwards" via losing the Governor's Office has brought people to a fervor pitch.

I've been very clear about what I think of the current Republican State Chairman Christopher Healy.  He should resign.  If Healy worked in the private sector and produced these kinds of results, he'd be fired.  The results show that since he's been state chairman Connecticut Republicans have done far worse at every level, and Democrats are now even a super-majority in the Statehouse.  It seems that the only one who's benefited from Chris Healy serving as State Chairman is Chris Healy.  Imagine that? The amazing thing is the nerve this guy has to stick around; lately he's putting himself front and center putting out press releases and attending meeting to give the appearance that he's in charge and leading us forward.

Well, he's not.  And he can't.

What he's doing to working his ass off to maintain the status quo, surrounding himself with loyal idiots at State Central who will defend his failed leadership, and spin his horrific record to the end of the Earth.  He's most concerned about keeping his position of power so he can hobnob with Republican leaders at the National Party and find ways to make himself rich and important because clearly he can't do it in the private sector.  Sadly, Healy has big balls, and he doesn't see his failures as his own, and having people he's hand picked surrounding him all day tell him how wonderful he is probably doesn't help OUR cause - getting Republicans elected to all offices and turning around our economy.

The biggest sign that he's delusional about his capability is his audacity to announce that he was considering a run for National Republican Party Chairmanship.  Can you imagine? Based on his record in in Connecticut?  It's no surprise his candidacy lasted ten minutes.  He's the last thing the RNC needs right now in its moment of triumph.

You have to realize that anyone with an ounce of integrity would have resigned already.  Most would be embarrassed about EVERYTHING that has happened within the last year alone - from turning on a former Congressman (who likely had much to do with him even getting the job he has) to undermining nominated candidates, to conflict of interest by having his wife take a high paying gig working for a primary candidate who never stood a chance in Hell.  Yet, he holds his head up high and works to build his fledgling dominion at GOP Headquarters.  Sort of sad.  Sort of costly to us all.

The Republican Party here in the State of Connecticut is severely fractured.  There are economic and social moderates, tea party folks, Fairfield County factions, second amendment groups, big business groups, small business groups, conservative sub base laborers, pro-life groups, and all different kinds of other groups clamoring for a voice.  To say that the Connecticut Republican Party lacks a cohesive identity is an understatement.   It's a mess.  And the mistrust of those at the top is more than evident than ever before, which is why it needs to change.

If we learned anything from this past election, its that writing a big check (in the millions of dollars) doesn't really win you friends, and it surely doesn't win you elections, no matter how historic the dollar amount.  And it isn't a substitute for a winning strategy. 

The best thing the Republican Party could do is to hold caucuses, elect new people outside of Healy loyalists, and start over.  Yes, I know this would remove favor and patronage as a prerequisite to election to State Central, and its Committees, but would be much better than it is today.  And it may give us the best chance of realigning the Party for resurgence.

Look, I know this is blue sky.  This tactic won't get rid of all the bad apples who have brought us down the tubes.  But its likely the only chance to put in fresh blood, and reinvigorate the GOP with fresh ideas and winnable strategies.  It's also the chance to remove the power of the few who seek to rule by minority status and return the Party back to its constituency.

If we don't do this, the party will fracture further.  Those people who felt betrayed, and don't see a form of remediation will likely walk away, and/or form third parties which would be devastating to the Connecticut Republican Party, and to those of us who want to see tax reform and economic changes, and see Connecticut return to a pro-business state once again.

If you can share the message, tell it from the mountains. It's time for Chris Healy and his cronies to go.  Let's rebuild the Connecticut Grand Old Party together, for a brighter tomorrow.

In my next entry, I want to deal with the varying dynamics of Connecticut Republicans, and the dangerous upcoming battle to forge a unified platform for the Party.  This won't be your Grandfather's blog entry so I hope you catch the next installment.

The original blog entry can be found at


Joe Visconti said...

King - Spot on. The GOP in CT will not be allowed the opportunity to stall the Constitution Party from being saturated with Tea Party folks and putting up council candidates across CT. It's already in the works. The only way to curtail this action is for Healey to resign on Febuary 23 no matter the outcome of the special elections which he is pinning his hopes for a future on.

Anonymous said...

We need new blood in the Party, people with creative ideas and principles. Most of State Central needs to go, too. We can win if we embrace those with Republican principles in the tea party and other groups. We shouldn't be afraid , but welcome them. They are what we used to be.

Look around and check out who is actively trying to help build the Party in CT. Capture the energy and imagination of those individuals and let it infect the Party. With the Democrats holding every constitutional office and controlling the legislature, it is our golden opportunity to produce a good bumper crop of citizen candidates for 2011 and 2012. Who is recruiting? Who wants to run for office? Serve on a local board. We don't need CT GO to tell us we must participate to win. Let's just do it as did our forefathers. It is our right, duty, and privilege to get involved, speak out freely, vote, and run for office.

Anonymous said...

Dear King,

We here in the 2nd District are furious with the GOP "leadership"--for want of a better word here in CT. We worked hard on Daria Novak's campaign and it was torpedoed by Healy and his rubber-stamp minions. I personally wrote him and asked him to resign after November 2nd, telling him that in a year like this one, with anti-liberal sentiment at an all-time high, even CT should have elected a few conservatives. The very definition of insanity is to keep on doing what we're doing while expecting different results.

We don't care how blue the state is. In a couple of other "blue" New England states: Maine and New Hampshire, the GOP made inroads. Why? Decent leadership. I've asked Conservative Republicans in this state to stand up and be counted. GOP town committees need to express their dissatisfaction with Healy and the central committee with "no confidence" votes, urging them to step aside. Will they find their voice? Who knows?

Healy's father worked hard with William F. Buckley Jr. to build a conservative GOP in CT. Chris Healy is a disgrace and a RINO. If John Sununu could change the political dynamic in NH, a true conservative who works hard can do the same in CT. No excuses. Mr. Healy--RESIGN.