The King's Marquee

Election Day is finally here! Let's get out there an seal the deal for Trump and the American people! And don't forget to support the CTGOP under-ticket!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Motley Crew: The Chairman's Race Countdown

Ever heard the phrase a picture is worth a thousand words?  Well, take a look at the motley crew (below) running for Connecticut's Republican State Chairman slot - and all kinds of words come to mind - few of them positive. I’m deeply concerned about the quality of all of the candidates which State Central members are stuck choosing from to elect the next State Chairman. In fact, I don’t see ANYONE in the field with the charisma or leadership who can lift the Connecticut Republican Party out of the gutter – never-mind get us to the next level.

The motly crew above have made a
valiant effort but the CTGOP needs
 someone else to emerge and lead 
The next Republican Chairman cannot be a one-trick pony who plans on delegating his way through tenure. The next Chairman will have to be hands on and PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE and SKILLED as a fundraiser, strategist, candidate recruiter, public spokesman, chief activist, election guru, media expert, and above all else – will need to be an ethical, trusted leader who can reunify the Party under one tent. This individual will have to reach out with an olive branch to undo significant damage caused by his or her predecessor. The problem for the CTGOP is that there is not one person capable of all of that in the current list of candidates running for the office.

This also includes Catherine Marx who is likely the second worst choice of all possible options. The CTGOP certainly doesn’t need another closed-door leader shutting out non-elitist Party members from participation, and wheeling and dealing in a backroom with long-time Party hacks who have nothing but distain for conservatives. A Catherine Marx chairmanship is likely to cost the GOP significant set-backs since she is seen as nothing more than Healy’s lackey, or worse – an extremely incompetent person, unskilled and inexperienced in any area I’ve listed above.

Rumor is that Catherine got all bent out of shape
over a post that Joe Visconti put up on a blog -
taking the words out of context to imply a
threat. Good Grief! Just go away!
Riding someone’s coattails is hardly a skill; it’s more an annoyance. And Marx’s tenure as Vice Chair has been nothing short of pathetic. While Healy shredded the Party and turned friends into foes, she supported his every action. How many of you have actually seen her at your RTC? How many of you see her now? Catherine Marx is what is absolutely wrong with the Republican Party in Connecticut – quiet, pointless, mellow, and a silent collaborator with the enemy. We need a new direction. We need someone with high energy, and who can reignite the Party faithful.

And a quick sub note here – before you accuse me of placing a glass ceiling above Catherine’s head, let me say if she had the Thatcherite leadership skills and personality of a Martha Dean, then I’d be promoting her left and right. But she doesn’t have it. Marx only has about 10 or so votes; these are loyal friends from her region - many of which are old timers from the Healy camp.

At the end of the day, Catherine has to ask herself how long she can carry on like this. It speaks very poorly of someone who doesn’t know their own limitations. It’s time to withdraw and fade with the sunset, leaving the Healy years behind you.

Was anyone really shocked to open up The Hartford Courant and read them singing the praises of Chris Healy? You’d have to be pretty brainwashed not to see the truth here. Sure, the liberal media loved Chris Healy – his strategy and leadership guaranteed Democrats a first place finish every time – particularly where it counted. Healy was everything they wanted out of a GOP leader – enough to make it appear to be a legitimate contest, but never enough to win first place. My wallet has had enough of second place. And I’m tired of having ZERO Republican representation at the Federal Level. It’s embarrassing to be dead last out of fifty states in this area. Catherine Marx would deliver the same results, except the margins of defeat would likely be much greater and municipal seats would continue to dry up. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Courant endorsed Marx as a replacement. She fits the bill to continue his legacy of failure.

The visible candidates in the race simply don’t have it.

Al Alper

Alper is a patriot, no doubt, but
moving GOP HQ to Bridgeport
makes as much sense as moving
Santa's workshop to Afghanistan
Al Alper is a nice guy. He’s probably a very good business man, and he knows how to put together a PowerPoint presentation. But the bottom line is that he doesn’t have the political experience or background to be State Chairman. And his idea to spend our limited funds on moving State Central Headquarters to Bridgeport is simply short-sighted, and foolish. And at first I thought he was simply trying to make a statement, but it seems that he wants to follow through on this moronic idea.

If anything, State Central should be moved back to our Capitol City – Hartford, where it belongs, operating in the open and not hundreds of miles from where the business of the people is being conducted at the State Legislature. I want to see Connecticut Republican Headquarters become a base of operations staffed by individuals working 12 hours a day to change the accepted status quo. There is a reason Al Alper has somewhere between zero and a few votes for Chairman. This isn’t to say he wouldn’t be effective in some role, or that he hasn’t contributed to the debate. But it’s time for him to man-up and withdraw from the race. He’ll come out respected if he does so now.

Art Scialabba

No doubt Art thinks The
King  has been unfair to him.
In truth he may have a point.
Then again...
Art Scialabba is another decent person, but again – doesn’t have the characteristics required to be State Chairman. He is soft-spoken, and his communication skills aren’t strong enough to command respect from Republicans, State Central members, and most importantly - donors. Frankly, I’ve been shocked by his poorly written emails, and correspondence. And frankly to his experience - there is a big difference between turning around Norwalk (which should be Republican) and reversing the Democratic trend in towns and cities that have marginal potential to become GOP majorities.

I’ve seen Art’s shtick. It’s not enough to win people over, and plainly put – he’s just too nice to be able to make tough calls, and lead with an iron fist to get things done. Now to his credit, Art has managed to pull out a few votes here and there – some people feel he has about half-dozen or so votes – most of which are loyalists out of his region. You can’t count this guy out entirely. His having 12-15 delegates at this time makes him a player in the race, or at least gives him the opportunity to influence the outcome. At the end of the day, Art is going to have to do the right thing, and pass his support to a more prolific leader. Surely, he has to know this.

Unfortunately, there is scuttlebutt that he is in a number of discussions trying to form alliances with candidates (sort of like Survivor). But everyone I talk with seems to imply that they are the ones looking to merge and take advantage of his support, not surrender the Chairmanship to him in return for a favor. Art is the guy to watch in the race because as of right now he could play a big part in choosing the next CTGOP Chairman.

“Wild” Bill Aniskovich

Aniskovich: "And I was about
this close from getting away
it all, if it weren't for those
darn-gosh meddling kids!"
The next person to discuss is the most significant entry into the Chairman’s race over the last few weeks, and probably the biggest surprise given his checkered past - Bill Aniskovich, a former State Senator, who resides in Branford. Aniskovich has a record of multiple election violations, conflicts of interests, and tons of controversy marred by his tight allegiance to Lou DeLuca and Governor John Rowland. His background is likely to feed a media frenzy of negativity that the Republican Party has not seen in years (you can visualize them licking their chops in this short piece in the Hartford Advocate). The wolves at The Harford Courant would have a field day dredging up dirt (from their own archives) on his past exploits that would likely be distraction to the Connecticut Republican Party as a whole. Things like: 1. His illegally using Victory Fund PAC Money for his re-election bid in 1998, 2. Being ordered to return $5,740 worth of misused funds in 1999, 3. His role in the Universal Health Care Scandal which moved forward without public hearings, and to the tune of $40 million dollars (2004). I could probably write an entire piece on Aniskovich based on the swirl of discussion floating around since his announcement to seek the position.

Imagine if you will, how hypocritical and constrained a Chairman Aniskovich would be if he had to call out a Democrat on similar illegal acts or wrongdoings. His moral high-ground is akin to an ant-hill on a sand lot. Given the public scrutiny on political financing and campaign funds (see Senator John Edwards, for one), this choice would be a move in the wrong direction for the GOP given his past transgressions. Aniskovich would be handcuffed by his own history, likely urging Republicans to avoid the tough fights on ethics issues to avoid personal humiliation. His bad choices would lend to impacting other Republican candidates, and the influence and part he would be able to play from a strategic standpoint. And no conversion to God would lift that negative factor. Heck, the only person who would benefit from a Bill Aniskovich chairmanship is Chris Healy because Aniskovich would make even Healy look quasi-ethical.

What scares me is that he's found nearly 20 State Central members who by hook or by crook are said to be in his camp. Many people see his quick ascendency to be a carefully planned power-play by House Republicans led by House Minority Leader Larry Cafero who is looking to take advantage of a confused situation at State Central where no-one is has emerged as the clear successor as Chair. Placing Aniskovich in power would serve to deliver State Central into the hands of Capitol Republicans. Not the best idea if you think about it. Perhaps this piece might open up some eyes on what the CTGOP would be in store for under Wild Bill. By far, Aniskovich would be Connecticut Republican’s worst nightmare.

Doug Hageman

Hageman deserves to
have a small town
named in his honor
for ridding us of Healy
After that somber note, let’s turn to the most animated character in the race – Doug Hageman. I have to start by giving credit to Mr. Hageman for having the guts to be the first State Central member to stand up and challenge Chris Healy and call Healy’s ethics and failures into question. Hageman is also credited with exposing controversies regarding staff salaries and reimbursement accounts that likely lead to Mr. Healy to not seek re-election (at least for now). Doug is a dinosaur but also a work-horse, but it’s unlikely that he will win the Chairmanship given that he has approximately a dozen votes, and has suffered from being the first guy out of the box to attack the sitting chairman. Healy loyalists blame Hageman for unseating their candy man, and many have hateful revenge in their eyes for a so-called betrayal in the family. Touching thoughts to mourn their fallen star, but very misplaced given the pathetic state of the CTGOP.

For my part, I do not agree with Hageman’s intended leadership approach. From the start he has told Republican Town Committees that he would institute a bottoms up approach where he would delegate authority normally reserved to the Chairman to other individuals. I also disagree with his plan to allow younger talent to become the “face of the Party” on television, and elsewhere – clearly, a recipe for disaster since doing so would likely result in contradicting positions, and confusion about who is really in charge . In order for the chairman to be effective he cannot decentralize his authority; he must be front and center, available for media interviews, and at times serve as a lightening rod – taking the hits in order that candidates and elected officials can focus on the work at hand. I can also appreciate Hageman’s ideas to increase minority involvement in the Party, but I’m not sure of the advantage of placing a novice in the Vice Chair role – no matter how much potential he might have. The name being floated around is Corey Brinson to play this role (rumored).

Notwithstanding, Doug Hageman should find a place in the new CTGOP administration. But clearly, not as its Chairman.  It should also be noted that Hageman at one point likely had as many as two dozen votes, but several were siphoned off due to dirty tactics of Aniskovich, Inc.

Rick Torres has a bilingual agenda
To that we say, "Adios, Amigo"
Rick Torres

Rick Torres is out of the race entirely. His appearance at the Westport candidate forum where he rattled on for 10 minutes straight in Spanish pretty much killed any hope he had of becoming a future leader in the Connecticut Republican Party. The only reason I even devote space in this essay to Mr. Torres is to lament what might have been, and highlight Mr. Torres’ agenda. It’s true that Republicans need to branch out to minorities and influence the brainwashed thinking that is dragging this state’s Hispanic community into age-old dependency subculture owned by Democrats, but Mr. Torres’ approach of placing Spanish on par with English is an outrage.

The Republican Party has always held the position of One Language-One Nation. This isn’t to say that other languages and cultures aren’t important, but they just aren’t as important as working to make sure that children from Spanish communities are expected to learn English as a requirement for graduation. Moreover, learning English is without a doubt the single most important skill for non-English speaking persons having a chance to be a successful member of American society. Mr. Torres sees Spanish and English on the same level, and he would embarrass Republicans by trying to advance his bilingual agenda.

At first I thought finding Mr. Torres a key role to play in the Republican Party would be a good idea. But his agenda is far too outrageous to be contained. And he would present the Republican Party with a new set of problems which would serve as an ongoing distraction for the incoming chairman to deal with.

Justin Clark

Poor Justin. If you look closely you can see
the puppet strings that lead to Tom Foley
I saw Justin Clark walking in West Hartford last week. I have to say that from the wide-eyed look in his eyes, the bleached red hue of his face color, and the size of the sweat beads dripping off his face that this poor guy looks like he’s under way too much pressure to be forced into running for this job. And all this stress is not worth the twelve lousy votes that he has amassed from Tom Foley’s failed attempt to push him into seeking this job. This poor guy looked like his head was going to explode.

Look, he should take time off and spend it with his family -- and forget about it!

He’s lost three straight elections. He’s managed to lose his own West Hartford Town Council bid in 2009, Tom Foley’s 2010 gubernatorial race, and most recently the 2011 Special Election State Representative Campaign of Allen Hoffman – where he had nearly a blank check and did nothing with it. Moreover, he’s been bounced around the legal industry – holding several different jobs with various law firms over the last few years. None of this makes his resume shine brightly above the rest of the field. In fact, it does just the opposite. If you can’t win, and you can’t remain in a stable job, I’m sure you can’t lead a sinking ship out of a harbor.

Justin, please call Tom Foley and tell him to get off your back! Tell him to find another stooge to work through to clear the path for his next election bid. Tell him life is valuable and you need to spend time with your wife and children, and leave the political cronyism to someone else.

The Others

Pardon Me, James. Do you have
any Grey Poupon?
There are a few other people who’ve announced that they are running for State Chairman. As I mentioned in my last article, I expected Jim Campbell of Greenwich to run. He’s finally thrown his hat into the ring but has doesn’t have the personal appeal, name recognition, experience, or charisma to rally members to support his election. We know he has the money, and he’s in league with Linda McMahon, but even that isn’t enough at this late date. People cringe when his name comes up because he’s viewed as a bossy, arrogant man; a typical Greenwich high society dolt. That’s not the kind of person who will unify tea party members with blue collar Republicans with regular middle class Republicans. I’m sure he’s good for Linda and her agenda, but disastrous for the rest of us.

Olivastro has a future...
hosting The Price is Right
Then there is Richard Olivastro.  He's sort of a comedy act of his own. Again, another guy who jumped in after sizing up what we've thought all along - that the existing field didn't contain anyone who could galvanize the Party and lead it.  Sadly, he falls into that category too.  His best attribute is that his bright orange hair would help him be identified by a search party if he was ever lost on a snowy mountain. Time to quit Rich.  Thanks for playing.  Staying in doesn't make a bit of sense.

Hello? Is anybody (decent) out there?

There is still a chance that someone with the attributes I first mentioned at the top of this piece could still be out there testing the waters before jumping in. Last time I made fun of those hiding in the bushes waiting to see how the field does before launching their own campaigns. Now it appears as though I’ve done a 180 on this line of thinking – and I’m praying that someone new emerges who can rally members to drop the choices above, and give the Connecticut Republican Party - someone without a history of controversy and corruption.

Bring back Col Simmons
There's a war to be won on the
A few names come to mind and I’ll float them here for discussion. The first is option could be Rob Simmons. Simmons would be ideal because he knows how to win elections, and is the only person who’s successfully held leadership positions in Government, Politics, and the Private Sector. It’s unlikely that this would be the choice of Linda McMahon but that’s to be expected. Rob Simmons is far qualified to lead the Connecticut GOP out of the swamp. Sure, people don’t like every vote he’s cast (neither does he), but he would be ideal since he’s trusted and competent in all areas, and would be a well-respected face for the Connecticut Republican Party.

When Jerry Labriola takes his
jacket off, you know he means
Another name is Jerry Labriola. Labriola doesn’t have the experience of a Rob Simmons but he has served The Connecticut Republican Party as it’s Treasurer for multiple terms, and by all accounts – all factions seem to respect him for his work ethic, leadership skills and career consistency as a lawyer. He’s a very sharp guy. He’s also run for Congress in Connecticut’s 3rd Congressional District – one of the toughest districts in the Country. He gets credit for making a run against Republican nemesis Rosa DeLauro, and he did so while maintaining the workload of his career and CTGOP Treasurer. His strengths would be to knowledge of fundraising, business prowess, and negotiation skills. Labriola has been openly frustrated about how the Healy appointed a finance board that circumvented responsibilities usually reserved for the Treasurer. To his credit, Labriola has reported all CTGOP financial data to the appropriate authorities, and has always remained loyal to the Republican Party and its principles, and not to its unethical Chairman.

There may be others in the wings. But someone had better step forward soon, or the outcome of this election is likely to benefit the Connecticut Democratic agenda and give free pass to Democrats seeking re-election at the National Level.

And a word to the wise: Just because Chris Healy has taken himself out of this race DOES NOT mean that his name couldn't be put forward from the floor by one of his loyal minions just prior to the election taking place.  If a front runner doesn't emerge over the next few weeks with votes counted, Healy's name could be thrown into the mix, and he could capture enough of the votes to end up in the Chairman's seat. And it wouldn't surprise me if this is part of some elaborate scheme of his to front a coalition with an alliance of pretended nominees who deliver their support for him at the time of balloting.  Silly conspiracy or not - remember, its not over until its over, until the last vote is counted.



This original article can be found at


Anonymous said...

Why would you not give a fair assesment instead of insulting candidates. Shows your true charecter king!

Al Alper said...

I read your post - and found it interesting - a few points of clarification to make it more accurate.

- Moving headquarters to Bridgeport WAS a statement. The detail under the hood is to set up satellite office in every urban area and plant the Republican flag (as was demonstrated in my PPT) - drawing a line in the sand for our opponents and giving local and regional outgunned R's much needed visible support. Included in that is the main office front and center in Hartford.

- The idea that the CT GOP has, in your words "limited funds" implies that a good Chair with a solid plan can't raise the money needed. Having done exactly that in business, I can tell you that people will invest in a vision of success, a plan achieve it and the person to carry it out. While CT GOP has done a good job of developing their own fundraising vehicle, we have not fully realized our potential as a Party in such a wealthy state. Lack of a full vision, a detailed plan to succeed and the organizational structure required to execute it has left us bereft of the funds needed to succeed. Under my leadership ALL of that will change.

- As for experience and background, this is subjective and we'll agree to disagree. A successful 2 term Chairman, Campaign Manager, elected official on the Finance Board, prior elected official to 2 other commissions, raising money on "ideas" not a product, identifying and cultivating talent, etc etc, speaks of a candidate eminently qualified. Moreover, leadership demands one leads. As the only candidate to have come out with a highly detailed plan (which of course runs the risk of giving opponents something to shoot at) and re-organization of the State Party I believe I've done just that, lead.

- As for "no chance", those currently supporting me would disagree. The State Party and Republicans they represent will make that decision very quickly and, wherever the Chairmanship falls we will be stronger and untied going forward.

Al Alper

The King said...


Thanks for taking the time to respond, and for having the courage to stand-up publicly and present your vision for the future of the Connecticut Republican Party.

A couple of things.

I'm pleased to learn that you support returning CT GOP Headquarters back to Hartford and not move it to Bridgeport. I can tell you that there has been widespread concern amongst CSC members regarding this point.

With regard to establishing satellite offices in every urban area (I count 11 : Greenwich, Bridgeport, Enfield, Hartford, New Britain, New London-Groton, Waterbury, Middletown, Danbury, Manchester, New Haven). I'm not clear on the value based on a CBA that would be required. Nor do I understand how we could afford the rent or staff offices. Other than to be a "visible" what purpose would these offices serve?

In theory, we are represented in all urban centers via RTCs.

I'm not sure if you are aware but discracefully - .09 on the $1 goes to the candidate pool from our fundraising efforts. And you should see how our current leadership takes trips left and right (including another trip to Texas last week to the tune of $3000 a hotel stay weekend to network and drink it up on the donor's dime).

You won't like this, but I advocate giving NOTHING to CT GOP until their house is in order - meaning no more useless party trips, and fraudulant expeditures. I want to see a plan where donations flow to candidates and CTGOP launches media blitzes against things like Bathroom Bill and Sick Leave. Imagine the impact if we had done that? Perhaps some of our own members wouldn't have stabbed us in the back.

We can disagree on your level experience, that's fine. The Wiltonian Empire is rather small 26.8 sq mi - are you familiar with other districts? Ever been to an RTC meeting in Sharon? New London? Enfield? Middletown? Have you been to Town Plot? How much do you know about the issues affecting the First or Second districts? The ones everyone like Linda McMahon and our sitting Chairman avoid (unless it means swooping in for a fundraiser)?

My point is that you should travel around and get to know the - REAL PEOPLE - and expand your horizons outside of your district. I can tell you, as I speak to people - no one has ever heard your name.

To Hageman's credit, he traveled CT and met with many RTCs and tried to exchange thoughts. Few others bothered to do that. Don't take this as a criticism, but as an opportunity for the next time. People would likely enjoy meeting you and hearing from you. If you want to branch out, its time to leave Wilton and expand your base.