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Friday, April 20, 2012

Observations from Last Night's first CTGOP Senatorial Debate

"When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.” - Socrates

Happy Friday everyone!

Photo by J. Visconti

I thought I'd provide a few observations on last night's debate in Norwich between the five Connecticut Republican U.S. Senate Candidates.  I won't provide a play-by-play but there are certainly some remarks worth making as we lead up to the all-important televised Face The State debate scheduled to be held this coming Sunday.  

Also, I've made the decision to write this cold - meaning I haven't taken the time to read the thoughts and reporting of the many paid journalists who were in attendance.  So, again - this is one voter's interpretation of last night proceedings.  Take them for what they are - a realistic, unfiltered view of the event without the bias, payoffs or spin.  You'll get The King's straight talk whether it hurts those I support or not.  It is, what it is.

General Observations

First, The King is disappointed to report that the event was rather poorly attended.  For a Congressional District that constantly complains about being ignored by Connecticut's Congressional Candidates and current Delegation, they certainly didn't do themselves any favors by leaving an auditorium 10% filled to capacity.  Seriously, the Second Congressional District is suffering more from job loss and unemployment than any other in the State - yet people couldn't be bothered to attend a free debate to listen their Party's set of candidates.  Whoever the RTC Chairmen or District Coordinators are, they could have at least tried to send Town Committee contingencies to fill seats, and pretend to be interested.  I know you're tired of hearing it - but this is a clear-cut case where some people just aren't doing their jobs

Second, and on the same note - Linda McMahon brought a massive deluxe bus filled with about 50 or so people perhaps accounting for as much as 40% of the attendees. As far as the ground game is concerned, she gets credit for working to make sure that she brought in her supporters who were loud outside, and to their credit - respectful and well-behaved during the debate.  While I understand that not everyone can sport the cash to send a bus of supporters to an event, they could at least galvanized some presence to give the impression that their campaigns are alive and well.  Some of the candidates looked awful lonely showing up by themselves - some didn't even appear to have a staff of operatives on hand.  For God sakes, invite a few friends along, put them in nice clothes and give them name tags and at least make yourself look like your running for the second highest office in the land.  Take it seriously, and play the part, or get out of the race.

Left to Right: B. Hill, P. Lumaj, L. McMahon, C. Shays, K. Westby

Third, Ray Hackett and The Norwich Bulletin did a bang up job setting up the venue to provide the public with an opportunity to listen to the candidates.  Mr. Hackett was extremely fair and impartial in his line of questioning of all the candidates.  His questions weren't embarrassing to anyone; most are exactly what people are talking about inside and outside the political establishment.  The only criticism The King has is that social issues were barely mentioned.  Only Peter Lumaj sought to raise some comparison between himself and the other candidates on social issues.  It's true that Mr. Hackett asked whether there was a War on Women, but that question was more a political one, than a social one given the stories which have dominated the news over the past few weeks.  Those news stories have less to do with woman's issues per se, and more to do with the angle of their presentation as a political tool between the Obama and Romney Camps.  (To their credit all five candidates agreed that no such war exists).

Individual Performance (Best to Worst)

Brian K. Hill
The best performance of the night goes to Brian K. Hill.  This isn't to say that his performance totally out shined the rest of the field by some wide margin.  But Hill presented his positions extremely well to the point where he rose slightly above the rest of the candidates.  He came across knowledgeable and calm when presenting his positions (an improvement from some of his reved-up appearances at RTC Meetings). At one point, Brian Hill was asked about the famous 9-9-9 Plan and to every one's astonishment, he talked in detail about the benefits and misunderstandings of the 9-9-9 Plan - in fact, much better than Herman Cain did when he was trying to sell it only three months ago.  Hill also called out Peter Lumaj who spent a good portion of the night attacking Christopher Shays.  At one point, Brian Hill brought up Ronald Reagan's 11th Amendment sensing that Peter Lumaj was getting a bit out of hand - and he was right to do so. Hill played the role of Party negotiator while the others simply looked on.

What's Happening? I'll tell you what's happening... Brian K. Hill just
kicked everyone's butt in the Senatorial Debate ya'll!
One of the general criticisms Hill faces is that he often questioned about his lack of political experience for the job.  Hill was clever to point out that "...the Republican Party is its own worst enemy by making the same mistakes over and over again... Running career politicians, and nominating self-funded candidates from lower Fairfield County."   Putting aside whether Mr. Hill is more electable than those he's referring to around the debate table, you have to admit that based on the record, he has a point.  All things being equal, while Mr. Hill doesn't bring bags of money to the table, he does bring a certain level of appeal, and let's face it - as the only African-American Senatorial Candidate on either side of the divide, he brings a unique perspective that can't be merely addressed through lip service. 

Hill's point about the Senate lacking military vets amongst its ranks may not be a defining reason for sending Brian to the Hill, but it's noteworthy that his point is well taken considering that post-Vietnam Era veteran representation has decreased in numbers over time giving some credibility to his argument that those beating the drums of war have no military experience (note: those words are not his).

The big test of the night came when Ray Hackett asked Hill about his vote for Barack Obama in 2008; a point that continues to trouble The King.  The vote in itself is a particularly hot button issue with Conservatives and Tea Party members, many who won't give Hill a chance given his critical view of George W. Bush and John McCain, but notwithstanding - he answered the question directly and calmly citing his disapproval of the war from a soldier's perspective. He also added some humor by stating that he didn't think his absentee ballot made a big difference in liberal Connecticut which voted overwhelmingly for Obama.  That drew a chuckle from the audience as well as from his fellow candidates.

Hill also shined when asked about his position on whether or not we should go into Iran.  His opinion, while too Dove-ish for The King, was well-presented, even though it assumes a cascading scenario which brings both China and Russia into a war.  Hill assumption that Russia would engage in military action in support of Iran is a bit of a stretch. (A discussion for another time). 

If there is a winner in this debate, you have to give Round 1 to Brian K. Hill.  He deserves not nod, not just for what he said, but how he said it, and for what he didn't say.  If Brian Hill gives the same kind of performance on Sunday, he could ultimately become a power player in this race - one way or another.

Linda McMahon
I'm sure seeing Linda McMahon show up in the number two position will raise a few eyebrows among my readers.  Deep down, even those who ardently oppose Mrs. McMahon becoming our GOP nominee would have to agree that although her responses were clearly well-scripted, and well-rehearsed, she came off quite well in the debate.  From a presentation standpoint, we could see that her three years of practicing in front of the mirror certainly paid off last night.  While her answers were often not succinct to the question, her delivery tended to cover her tracks even in places where she completely avoided the issue - such as responding to questions regarding the disgraceful body of work that comprises the WWE product, and when she was asked what her tax plan was and she ignored the question altogether opting to instead tell her life story (fictional or not).

"I didn't buy any of those G-d damn delegates! You #%X*!!"

As mentioned, Linda delivered a monologue which was nothing more than a shortened version of her web-video entitled Linda's Story which describes her growing up poor, and destitute (although a three bedroom home is hardly that), and working over time to overcome bankruptcy to eventually amass a major wrestling empire. Linda's problem will forever be connected with her wrestling business, and no matter how hard Linda works to ignore questions about the details of her business, they will always haunt her in both public opinion and the polling booth.  Her supporters get angry with me for raising this fact that she's simply not electable.  And counter-arguing that she is, is hardly a rational position to take.  Linda was quick to point out that the only three polls that matter are the Convention, the Primary, and the General Election.  That's true, but what's lost in translation is that the public has already refused to support Linda McMahon by a wide margin in the 2010 general election, and clearly polls show that she still doesn't have enough support which is why the 2012 nomination appears so contestable.

The simple fact is that recent polls show Linda McMahon cannot win the general election.  If the polls told a different story - her staff would be out there touting those polls from atop the highest mountain.  To disregard the electability question in a public debate is akin to macing the audience with pepper spray. It is the biggest obstacle in Linda's Political Career, and pretending its not an issue doesn't make it go away, in fact - it only festers in the minds of rank and file Republicans.

Kie Westby was right to point out that the summation of her business amounts to "men bulked up on steroids, and woman in bikinis."  Given this direct attack on how she makes her money, you would think that Linda by this point would have responded to or defended the way in which she makes her bread and butter.  The fact that she ignores the question comes across as a quasi-omission that her industry is shady.  Moreover, questions have been asked why her campaign uses "Linda" in large lettering; making "McMahon" appear as almost a footnote on her signs.  Some have suggested that she is embarrassed by the McMahon-WWE connection, which unless used to inflate her job creation numbers, she tries to completely ignore.

Yet, I put Linda in the runner up position because when it came to her discussion on immigration (no amnesty), and on driving home the fact that she has an economic plan -published and available for all to read (whereas Chris Shays does not), and her comments on energy policy and other domestic issues, she really didn't miss a beat.  There are other points which I'll get to in a minute which automatically disqualifies her from the top spot.

At present, the only thing going for Linda McMahon is that she currently leads as the front runner in the political establishment game.  But her lead doesn't go further than that.  After the Convention that false glow will dissipate back under the rock from which it came. Time will show that the energy and money devoted to winning the Convention will have been wasted, and counter-productive to the overall goal of winning the General Election. Moreover, the threat to the CTGOP with her atop a ticket could have catastrophic affect on  CTGOP under-ticket results.

The most remarkable exchange of the night came when Ray Hackett asked everyone that given everything that has transpired over the last several months, whether or not the Convention was going to be fair.  Up first, Kie Westby and Brian Hill expressed concerns about fairness in the process, and to sum up basically said that the jury is still out on what will happen during the Convention.  And they are hoping for the best.

Hackett then turned to Chris Shays and posed the same question.  Taking the high road, Shays simply said he agreed with the answers given by both previous candidates [Kie Westby and Brian Hill] and didn't want to discuss it further.  Then came Linda's turn.

Linda offered the BIGGEST LIE OF THE NIGHT when she said, "My campaign has always supported the Resolutions. We have always wanted to be the most transparent campaign... I'm proud to have RTC Chairman support, blah blah blah."  Fact is that Linda McMahon never said she supported the ResolutionsWhat she said was that she supported whatever decision was made by State Central Members regarding the Resolutions. (See Daniela Altimari's story for the lukewarm statement). First of all, Tom Scott and Corry Bliss worked night and day with prominent GOP insiders to sway opinion against passage of the Resolutions by making phone calls as high up as the State Chairman to see them through to defeat.  And since Linda owns such a large portion of those RTC and State Central Members , don't you think that if she TRULY supported the Resolutions that they would have passed given her depth of influence? This is just another bold fast lie by Linda McMahon, and there are plenty more to come.

What surprised me most was her willingness to lie so blatantly to the audience. If there 's one thing we learned about Linda McMahon last night, its that she will do anything to win, including lie to the general public about facts already proven.

Second, this nonsense about abiding by the will of State Central members is insane.  If State Central members shot down the Resolutions 42-10 , then why didn't she simply take up their decision and say she was going to abide by the will of State Central Members after the vote was taken?  Why the change of heart if this is all about "abiding by the will of State Central members?"  I wish someone would ask her to explain this particular gap in her logic. 

I think that the only reason she changed her position and caved-in to support Transparency and abide by a portion of the Resolutions (she has not committed to having Campaign staff or vendors wearing badges as Chris Shays and the other candidates already have) is based on the public embarrassment she created for herself after and the Party Chairman - as Brian Hill aptly put it... making sure that "the fix was in from the start".

Not knowing enough to quit while she was ahead, Linda made a HUGE mistake last evening by taking a self-righteous tone and declaring that "anyone suggesting that delegates were bought or paid for is insulting."  NO!! What's insulting is that most people have seen documented evidence of Linda's RTC donations throughout Connecticut and for Linda to suggest that they have no impact on the delegate selection process is disingenuous to the core!! 


Thank God that Chris Shays finally stood up and cited former-Chairman's Chris Healy's wife working as a paid employee on her Campaign while he manipulated events on the Convention Floor as examples of the shenanigans at the 2010 Sham Convention. This year's approach has been almost exactly the same when it comes to her influence peddling.  If transparency is so important to Linda perhaps she'll take the unprecedented act of asking Pat Sullivan to provide the media with the specific expenditures (and payoffs) associated with the $900,000+ dollars worth payments to his organization from her campaign.  I'm sure Mr. Sullivan is a bright guy, but there's nothing that he's done that's worth $900,000 for payment of that kind of money.

Lastly, the one noteworthy point that will resonate with Democrats and Republicans alike is that Linda McMahon didn't yet pay her taxes.  That was a bad choice to make given that we expect our politicians to be responsible members of our society and follow the laws.  It's interesting that she used tax day as a prop in the early part of the debate to draw a chuckle from the audience.  Seems less funny now doesn't it?  Given her army of lawyers, accountants and consultants that follower her around everywhere she goes, she doesn't have much of an excuse.  Hey Linda, we are all too busy!  We all know you can afford to pay the extension interest .... but what's sad is that many people would die to have that "trifle amount" as income.

Summary:  Good on presentation, but not much on substance.  We'll see how this trend continues during the battle of 30 second sound-bytes on Sunday.

Chris Shays
Now its time to have a frank debate performance review of the true public front-runner in the race - Chris Shays. To say that Chris Shays didn't do well in the debate would be an overstatement but he is deserving of his third place finish.  Part of the issue with his performance is that he didn't do as well as he normally does during television appearances, RTC meetings, and other opportunities where he is seen and heard.  But I guess if he was going to have an off-night, it was better to have it last night than during the Face The State debate this coming Sunday.

"My first act will be to rid our country of ObamaCare. My
second act will be to have Peter Lumaj deported."

Shays started out strongly condemning certain members use of the term class to present their range of opinions. Shays was clear that the concerns and issues aren't related to class (a term often used by Democratic Operatives to divide people) but rather to all Americans.  Shays was keen to talk about his record of public service - 34 years of public service, and underscoring his record of winning 18 elections.  With so many years of service between the Connecticut State House and the U.S. Congress, there are certain to be plenty of votes that can be ripped apart by opponents, and a few folks tried to do that last night.

The issue isn't so much that Chris Shays was attacked by the candidates, or the accuracy or inaccuracy of their claims as much as the manner in which he responded that created a bit of a problem for him during this debate.  Where Linda McMahon often provides very hollow, non-specific answers to questions, Chris Shays opted to provide extreme detail on political mechanisms or details of votes that are frankly much too complicated for the average voter to comprehend. Such detailed explanations of Congressional voting procedure, or gasoline costs, or other policy decisions are best left for the C-SPAN audience and not the average guy just ripped that gasoline is $4 a gallon.

Unless the attack is seriously damaging to his image, Mr. Shays is best pulling a Ronald Reagan, and laughing off his opponent with a bit of humor and a big smile.  This is a better strategy rather than using the better part of your 15 minutes to defend yourself against arbitrary attacks so you can't get you message out is like chasing Br'er Rabbit down the brier patch. Forget it.

From a political standpoint, the fact that Linda McMahon can highlight that she has a nicely bounded colorized plan to show people, whereas Mr. Shays does not - implies that he's either behind the eight ball or hasn't created a plan to solve the world's problems.  Being able to make the same claim week after week will start to resonate unless remedied soon.  It doesn't matter that Linda didn't come up the plan herself or that she paid a hefty sum to Washington-based consultants to come up with it - it's the simple fact that she has one, and Shays' doesn't.  Honestly, all five candidates should have some kind of a plan to point to and available to the public.  It doesn't have to be a ultra-marketed brochure like Linda's, but something they can point to that they can claim as their own set of ideas on how to right the sinking ship.

Perhaps Shays can get something up by Sunday so we don't have to hear about it on Face The State.

Chris Shays also came off more defensive than usual.  Obviously, Peter Lumaj had the strategy to ignore Linda McMahon, and ride Mr. Shays the entire time.  At least, Shays deserves credit for not losing his cool while Mr. Lumaj insulted him over the course of the hour.  There were a few cheap shots, not policy-related and I'll get to those later.  Shays ability to show electability is his biggest strength.  No one can question that of all the people participating that Shays is easily the most electable amongst Republicans, Independents, and pro-business  Democrats.

On social issues, you would not find a great deal of difference between Chris Shays and Linda McMahon which is a sore spot with some conservatives.  The only difference being that Linda McMahon doesn't have a voting record to point to where those can be outlined, and she also won't say a peep about where she stands on issues that may be poison for her with the social right.  Her plan of being silently coy on these issues plays to her favor because like the old saying goes, "you don't know what you don't know".  And social conservatives haven't heard her expouse her views on many of these issues.   So Linda has the added advantage of playing the card of appearing more conservative by remaining silent when in fact there is probably no difference between the two.

On the positive end, Shays was very articulate about removing deductions and lowering the overall tax rate across the board to boost the economy.  He also spoke at length about improving our energy policy, and he was extremely articulate on foreign policy issues.   Another plus is his tie in to helping to cut $60 million dollars of wasted spending from the budget.  It's successes like these that show his personal contribution to trying to reduce expenditures in Washington.  He was clear that he'd start by voting ObamaCare off the books - a huge relief to all of us.

Another plus was his reference to Newt Gingrich's old saying, "Listen, Learn, Help, Lead" with the added Listen at the end.  The reference to Mr. Shays' contribution to the Contract with America which was a significant contribution on multiple areas of reducing government waste is a highlight of Mr. Shays' career. As for working with Senators across Party lines - well, no one wants a bully, and the Lumaj position of crossing your arms and legs when someone disagrees with you won't get you very far in Congress.  Chris Shays is likely the only one of the five candidates who could work with just about anyone in either party.  Linda McMahon wants to work with Senator Blumenthal - I'm sure he'll be happy to hear that.  Maybe Brian Hill wants to work with John McCain... or maybe not. Hehehe.

If Chris Shays simplifies his answers, smiles, and brings back his wit, he'll do fine on Sunday. 

Peter Lumaj
I had never heard Peter Lumaj speak in a large forum until today. I had heard many good things about his oratory skills, and the great story he has to tell about coming from war-torn Albania and his life-long battle with Communism.  Notwithstanding, whether I would support him or not, his life story is a classic example of the hardships and oppression of Socialist-run regimes and of all the candidates left or right, his cautionary tale of survival and immigration to the United States is always worth remembering - particularly when you hear people cry, "that was a long time ago, this wouldn't happen today."  We have such short memories.

At first I was impressed with Peter Lumaj's performance.  His grasp of economics and expenditures, and explaining inflationary/monetary effects of our current policies was refreshing.  I felt for a moment that I was listening to the quasi-reincarnation of the late Friedrich Hayek, one of the foremost respected economists of the Conservative Movement (classical liberalism and free market capitalism) - praised highly by the late William F. Buckley, Jr. and others.  Hayek was also from Eastern Europe and escaped the cruelty and backwardness of the Soviet Dictatorship.

Peter Lumaj is the
 Latka Gravas of our
But there was a point when suddenly and without reason he broke with his standing as a arbiter of economic and social conservatism and took on the role of attack dog.   For many of us watching it was a big let down, not because we were rooting for Mr. Shays, but because he had rapidly eroded his standing in the debate by using insults, and blindsiding Chris Shays in relentless attacks.  Calling Chris Shays a RINO and saying the only difference between Chris Murphy and Chris Shays is their last name came across petty and curt.  Now obviously, I'm a little partial to Chris Shays so I admit freely that I didn't like watching Lumaj's endless taunts on my guy, but I also found it to be in bad taste because it was largely unnecessary for him to try and force a confrontation with Mr. Shays - which I am proud to say went ignored by Chris who usually doesn't back down from a fight.  Luckily Shays had the presence of mind to not get tangled in Lumaj's web of aggression, and Brian Hill had the guts to basically and politely tell Lumaj to "knock it off."

But beyond this, there was another set of comments by Peter Lumaj that didn't come off so well.  For whatever reason Lumaj took to engaging in "IMMIGRANT-BAITING".  Lumaj made an off-color joke where he said, "President Obama called me the other day and said I shouldn't be so hard on immigrants, after all Peter, you and I both know what's its like to be born in a foreign country."  Is this the kind of behavior that one would expect from a man seeking public office?

At one point, Lumaj turned to Shays and said, "Chris, Please don't call immigration on me.  Please don't call immigration on me."  Why Mr. Lumaj would mention Chris Shays in this statement doesn't make sense. It was a very disrespectful and condescending act of behavior in a public forum.  He embarrassed both himself, and the dignity of the Republican Party which Democrats always try to link to anti-minority/anti-immigration policy anyway.  Would it have been funny if Brian Hill made a self-deprecating joke about African-Americans?  No, it wouldn't have.  I'm not sure how long Mr. Lumaj has been in America but he hasn't picked up on the specific nature of what is acceptable discourse and what isn't,  particularly when running for public office.  From a political etiquette standpoint, Mr. Lumaj has a lot to learn. 

The CTGOP has enough issues without having one of its candidates making politically incorrect jokes (and laughing at his own jokes), and acting as if he's applying for a job to host Saturday Night Live.  All that's missing from Mr. Lumaj's repertoire is a laugh track. Next thing you know, Mr. Lumaj will be channeling Borat.

As far as strategy is concerned. Mr. Lumaj should have kept his anti-Shays powder dry for use on Sunday.  Now that he's exposed his agenda publicly - calling Mr. Shays a RINO, and so forth - and if he resorts to the same aggressive tactic on Sunday, Mr. Shays will be more than ready to respond.

Oh, and by the way, Mr. Lumaj might want to look at the record - Chris Shays voted in favor of funding the war in Kosovo.  Next time, Mr. Lumaj sees Mr. Shays - he may want to thank him publicly.

Lastly, one sticking point that liable to hurt Mr. Lumaj in his quest to be considered the Conservative Candidate of record is his strange perspective of the Flat Tax he proposes.  The Lumaj Flat Tax is described as a 3-tiered system where people who make more are taxed at a higher rate based upon their income level.  If all Americans should pay the same amount as he suggests, then the tax system he proposes is contradictory toward that goal.  Catching this paradox, Mr. Hackett asked Mr. Lumaj "[your plan] sound a lot like President Obama's."  Indeed, it does.

Kie Westby
While I hate to declare a loser in this debate (almost all of our candidates are a stretch better than the same old-same old Democrats), Mr. Westby seemed to be in the Twilight Zone for most of the night (a fact confirmed by cell phone call he received from the deceased Rod Serling while on stage).  
"I've got Kie Westby's fortune right here."
Mr. Westby has a great story to tell as a real private sector job creator.  He had a few high points in the debate but didn't make a pitch necessary to get himself over the hump of breaking the glass bubble that he's installed around himself.  The fact that he had a lot of extra time at the end was a bit of a concern.  Even Mr. Hackett lobbed him a few softball questions to answer which he sort of miffed through without any real energy.  His whole evening seemed to make him appear unprepared and somewhat disengaged, even tired.  This is sad because Mr. Westby's incredible experience should be front and center given that the economy is the central issue to this coming election.

Not everyone comes with that hard-hitting bravado type personalty that we are so used to seeing out of our candidates.  If Mr. Westby is to take it to primary as he suggests, he'll have to step up his game a little more, and make a believer out of large groups of people to stand a chance.

Mr. Westby is by far the nicest guy in the pack.  But unfortunately, you know what they say about nice guys. 

There really isn't much to conclude from the first debate.  But you can bet your bottom dollar that each campaign is conducting a deep dive review of how their star performed, and trying to figure out how to tweak their candidate for the next big appearance on Sunday. 

So yesterday is just about gone.  Just a distant memory in the vast wasteland of political appearances.  Without a knock-out punch or a truly definable moment, it will soon be ancient history, long-forgotten. No harm, no foul.

Sunday's Face The State appearance won't be a walk in the park for any of our five candidates since they will be forced to deal with the unfair rules governed by commercial television:  commercials, rapid-fire questioning, and reduced talking time - where the 30 second sound-byte rules the roost.

Let's hope our candidates represent us well.  With the low standard set by Democrats two weeks ago, I'm hoping for a stellar, issue-based performance.  Go for it!

See you on Sunday. 



This original blog entry can be found at
Disclaimer: This entry and others will be modified/updated at a future date. All entries are for the sole purpose of entertainment. This article does not imply endorsement of the candidate mentioned above, nor has this article been solicited for publication by any political candidate, campaign, or PAC.


Brian Marshall said...


Great observations. I also think Brian Hill did a very good job at the debate and made some great points.

Anonymous said...

Lumaj is my guy and you are a jerk for saying such stupid things about him. Borat indeed. In any case it all won't matter - the Dems will kick this bunch to the curb.

Anonymous said...

Well written article. Keep up the good work, King.

Anonymous said...

Lumaj is a clown. He doesn't belong in the race. He'll get the Armenian vote and a bunch of Ron Paul freaks will support him but no one else.

Anonymous said...


Very insightful for an off the cuff piece. If Linda wins, the Gop loses.

Anonymous said...

Great analysis. I'm a semi-serious CT Tea partier who knows full well what control of the senate will mean to the new administration in 2013. Though it would take a miracle for an R to win in CT, the senate race is the most important federal event in this state this year and has to be contested. Even so, I only just attended my first meet & greet this week in Waterford. I hadn't yet seen any of the candidates in person and would have told you going in that I was for McMahon because shes been through this before and I have no problem with her or anyone else spending their own money on a quest like this, in fact I'm in favor and happy that anyone is willing to do it, even the vanity candidates. But her performance was flat and perfunctory. Maybe she can do better and just thinks she already has it wrapped up but she basically underwhelmed me and now I found your blog looking for what are the negatives on Brian K Hill because he was the most impressive at that event and was previously unknown to me. Chris Shays has too much history to explain away in this climate. I see him and it makes me think of the "Ladies from Maine" (I abhor you.)