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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Quick comments on the CTGOP Convention

Later in the week, I'll publish a longer commentary on the CTGOP Convention.  I can see from the hit counter that many of you came here today looking for something so I'll take five minutes to give a few quick thoughts on the night.  Plus, I need a chance to sort through all of the emails I've received over the last day to determine whether some of the comments I'm seeing amount to sour grapes or legitimate issues worth investigating.

First, you have to give Kudos to Chairman Jerry Labriola, Jr. and his team of State Central Members for putting on an outstanding State Convention.  Even if you didn't like the outcome of certain races, it was clear throughout the evening that the manner in which business was conducted was fair and transparent - all the voting, tallying, and delegate activity was conducted real-time, methodically, and with fairness and dignity for all candidates.  The entire evening was a stark contrast to the corrupt convention run by the Healy-Marx Syndicate in 2010. You could also sense that the level of anxiety in the Hall was much reduced from two years ago - which in part was because campaign heads were warned to be on their best behavior given the heightened sense of scrutiny caused by Pre-Convention Party in-fighting over the last four months.

The cost of the evening was remarkably less expensive then previous Conventions which is because the guy running the show this time around used to be Party Treasurer and knew how to cut out frivolous expenditure.  Statewide Republicans can be glad to know their money isn't going to support somebody's drinking habit or lofty lifestyle ambitions.

Our Chairman came off eloquent and well-spoken from the podium.  And I don't mean this is in a negative way but he sort of surprised me.  I've seen him address smaller crowds and do a great job, but last night he really hit all the high notes perfectly - looking less nervous than usual, and incredibly confident.  Jerry Labriola rose to the occasion.  And you'd have to have a personal bias against him not to agree.

Quick thoughts on each District Race:

CT01John Henry Decker did a great job to earn nomination to represent Republicans in one of the most hellish races any Republican in the Country could ask for.  His win came down to personal appeal and rolling up his own sleeves to do the hard work required to get the nod.   There was no trickery, or posturing, or twisting of arms - it's just that John is the real deal 24/7 365 days a year.  He secured the nomination with over 65% of the vote and was humble and gracious to candidate Mike McDonald.  You can't ask for more in a candidate than what you get from John Decker.   And his speech to the convention was outstanding.  Let's hope that folks in CT01 give John their support, time, and money.  He's going to need all hands on deck to put a dent in union-financed John Larson

CT02:  Last week Paul Formica was making real fillet-o-fish sandwiches, and serving hot buttered lobster rolls to his customers in Niantic, and today he's positioned to face Joe Courtney in what could be one of the most evenly matched battles in Connecticut politics.  It's a huge commentary on his viability and energy as a candidate that he was able to secure the necessary number of delegates to win on the first ballot in only five days. 

But I'd be remiss not to say a word about Doug Dubitsky.   It's been relayed to The King that the Dubitsky, who is also Chairman of the Grassroots East Organization, gave a great speech during nominations and suggested before voting commenced that regardless of the outcome that he would not primary and smartly suggested that doing so only served Joe Courtney's best interest.  You have to hand it to Doug; he could have banged his fist on the table, and pressed and demanded that it be his turn after being slighted by Chris Healy's interference in the CT02 race in 2010.  But he didn't.  He put Party before ambition, swallowed his pride, and released his delegates.  If you see Doug Dubitsky walking around - shake his hand, look him in the eyes, and tell him you appreciate that he's a stand-up guy!

Daria Novak on the other hand has already published comments on the local Patch Wall stating that she intends to Primary.  Novak won't win, but she will surely run a very negative campaign against Formica which will boost Courtney's prospects in the District.  Rumors to The King are that she has already started making derogatory claims about Mr. Formica to Party delegates and public voters.   Since Novak started off on a bad foot, she's likely to end on a bad foot.  And she's doesn't care who she takes down with her.

CT03Thank God Almighty for Wayne Winsley!  I hope that someone caught Mr. Winsley's Convention Speech on video because it was one of the few moments of the night when Delegates literally jumped out of their seats screaming and cheering their heads off.  Uncontested, for the most part, Mr. Winsley has won the difficult task of taking on Rosa DeLauro in November.  The good news is that Winsley doesn't have to face a Primary opponent, the bad news is that he has a lot of work to do in the fundraising department to amass enough cash to run commercials and get his message out.

If positioned correctly, this brilliant conservative could bring life to the CT03 Election.  And if its true that Mr. Winsley is a private investigator, he might want to trade in his spy kit for a minister's robe - because if Mr. Winsley is preaching - you don't want to be late for Church on that day!  Much like John Decker's task in CT01, Mr. Winsley might be thinking at times he's the one that drew the short straw given the voting demographics of the district.  But on the other side of the coin, you have to admire anyone who's willing to not allow Democrats a free ride and an uncontested seat in Congress.  So in short - when you're thinking of handing out a few bucks in soft donation - keep Mr. Winlsey in mind; he could use a few greenbacks thrown his way.

CT04:  Not much to report here from the Convention other than Steve Obsitnik, former Navy and Annapolis Graduate, and teacher will be representing the Forth Congressional District.  This guy is the total package; and has the look and sound of a great Republican winner in November.  This is another district where Republicans are more than just in play in 2012.  If you could had to predict where we could guarantee picking up only one seat in all of our Connecticut contests, Steve Obsitnik could be the guy to deliver it. 

The only problem that could hinder his performance is if Linda McMahon ever won the Primary.  Her negatives would likely bring Mr. Obsitnik down much like she did to Tom Foley and the entire ticket in 2010.  And don't laugh off this concern, go look at the numbers and you can see the results for yourself.  If I were Mr. Obsitnik, I would stay away from any other federal candidates and focus on himself:  That means no joint appearances, no photo-ops, just stay away from everyone else trying to grease themselves with your charm and charisma.  Focus on you!  And win!

CT05:  Again, I will go into more detail later in the week but here are few thoughts.  Andrew Roraback had a stellar win that you could almost get excited about if you're a member of the anti-Lisa Wilson-Foley-Rowland-Healy movement.  The beauty of the moment came when Mike Clark made a selfless (but calculated) move to release his delegates; many who then joined Andrew Roraback to give him the win.  Yes, Wilson-Foley, Justin Bernier, and Mark Greenberg will all primary to defeat Andrew Roraback.  So if you've enjoyed the last three months of controversy and Republicans punching each others lights out, then you're in for a treat because it looks like it's going to be a long summer in CT05 - and we're going to hit record temperatures!  

I also want to give a big shout out to Farmington RTC!  I love you guys (and gals)!  Mr. Philip Dunn's last minute effort to get Wilson-Foley-Rowland-Healy to step up and respond to a few basic questions was a fair move on behalf of transparency.  We can clearly see that Delegates had some concerns that to this day still have not been addressed.

The only part of this whole CT05 thing that I don't understand is why Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton jumped onboard the Wilson-Foley ship just before it started to take on water. His reputation is taking a bit of a beating.  First, by joining Linda McMahon and her cronies, and then - jumping on the Wilson-Foley bandwagon?  It doesn't look like Mark Boughton wants to be Governor after all.  What a shame.  He had such a promising political career.  Lucky for him though, people have short memories.

One also wonders if Justin Bernier will follow his own recommendation from months back, and drop out and endorse the nominee. It may seem a little hyprocritical if he doesn't.  I'm surprised this question hasn't already been raised.... ah, give it a day or so.

Stay tuned ... at least for the moment, the Curse of Chris Healy is alive and well.  But with so many candidates planning to primary - anything could happen.  Ultimately, the public will decide whether Andrew Roraback is their cup of tea, or merely a lucky guy who was able to patch together enough votes to win over establishment delegates.

U.S. Senate Race

Here is a quick overview with more to follow later in the week.  Although part of this piece may come off like Shays Campaign spin, its not. Try to follow as I set the stage...

Chris Shays pretty much started this campaign very, very late in the game.  In contrast,  Linda McMahon has been running for Senate nonstop since late 2009.  Yes, she subbed in a few new players to campaign team but essentially the core machine within the RTCs,  Party heiarchy, and State Central Committee that supported her last time has pretty much remained in-tact. Many of the donations and pay-offs to RTC Members, RTCs, and delegates are all well documented, and were made long before the Convention began. If was even reported to The King that Linda McMahon was offering cash bonuses for her people who could turn delegates for Linda on the Convention Floor.  And the fun didn't stop there, a few Shays campaign staff members were solicited to switch to Linda's team in the Marriott Parking Lot garage in the late hours of the night on Saturday morning.  The buying and selling really never ends, but after last night - for the most part - it's all over with.

I have nothing negative to say about the overall situation on the Convention Floor, so if you were looking for me to fill this entry with 101 concocted excuses for Shays' loss, then you've come to the wrong place.  The McMahon people had done their homework ahead of time, and deserve credit for their 2:1 winning margin.  This isn't to say that the Shays Camp did a poor job - the goal is always to win, but the underlying point was to achieve the necessary 15% in order to primary.  This number was doubled, so when you start with nothing and double your required margin - you still have to feel somewhat good about meeting the critical objective - the right to continue.  And I'll remind you - three out of five candidates (Kie Westby, Brian K. Hill, and Peter Lumaj) will need to collect a boatload of signatures to continue forward.  Whether they do or not, remains to be seen.

I only have two big criticisms of the Shays camp.  First, the decision to include footage of Dick Morris and Peter Schiff's electability comment footage was a bonehead move.  You could hear the groaning and booing echoing in the Hall.  All the other candidates took the high road and told their story, and put a happy, positive spin on their candidacy.  What everyone recalls about the Shays video were the negative comments which darkened the room, and dampened Chris Shays' appeal to a few on the fence.  I don't understand the rationale for this negative tactic.  My view is it might have created a false perception of Chris Shays as a negative campaigner - when the reality is that Mr. Shays is really an optimistic person on the whole. 

Second, there should have been a more concerted effort to keep Linda McMahon below 60%.  I'm not saying that it was absolutely possible, but had the Shays campaign been able to do so, the numbers would have been more favorable to make a counter-argument that just about half of the Delegates rejected Linda. Instead, adding all of the candidates together, they still fell below the threshold to make a legitimate claim.  The campaign almost seemed to shut down at a point near the end of first round voting.  I'm not saying that people didn't try, it just wasn't as strong a stand as could have been taken, to prevent the extra bleeding of the switches from Hill and others to McMahon.  

As a subnote, while the Convention was not as hostile as it was in 2010, the votes were also not as close.  In 2010, Rob Simmons was within only 20 votes, and on Friday, Chris Shays was down by hundreds.  The closer the margin, the more confrontational the vote switching phase becomes.  McMahon had the victory early, so there was no use in pushing and shoving over trying to turn a handful of people when it didn't impact the overall tally; they already had a huge margin over Shays. And Hill, Westby, and Lumaj had siphoned off around 10%.

So, the headlines on Saturday weren't exactly wonderful.  But Shays supporters should take heart - it's only a snap-shot in time, and it's a long ball-game.  Thankfully, the insider game is done and over with and now its time to reset the game board because the next goal is to win the Primary; to win public support.

It will be interesting to see if Hill, Lumaj, and Westby drop out or if they continue on the road to self-humilation.  The King has always appreciated their right to participate in the Nomination process and contribute to the debate - Brian Hill probably did the most to help elevate the discussion with his polite and issue-focused contributions over the last few months.  But whether the Party would be served well by either or the three continuing on a pointless crusade against the two remaining giants, isn't exactly clear.  It would more likely help Chris Murphy who should eventually win his nomination in August.

Much more to follow. 



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


Anonymous said...

You're wrong about the cost of the convention. In 2010, it was a two day affair and it cost less than Labriola/Caffereli's one-day fiasco in 2012 which is well over $60,000.00, actually more like $70,000.00.

How about that parking tab? $19.00 oh but apparently there were $13.00 discount parking tickets for sale by LAZ early in the day but Labriola didn't tell anyone about that.

LAZ and the city of Hartford are thieves. If the convention were held at a University like it used to be, the cost would be far less and the parking is free.

Anonymous said...

"The cost of the evening was remarkably less expensive then previous Conventions which is because the guy running the show this time around used to be Party Treasurer and knew how to cut out frivolous expenditure. Statewide Republicans can be glad to know their money isn't going to support somebody's drinking habit or lofty lifestyle ambitions."

Labriola insisted on renting copiers to copy vote tally sheets for disorganized campaigns which is ridiculous and "frivolous." No one even used them. We pay Cafferelli $65,000.00 a year to support his "drinking habit" which would be fine if he came to work but half the time he doesn't and Labriola doesn't do anything about it. We paid a bunch of kids to be convention "security" and they never stopped anybody who wasn't wearing the proper credentials, it was a disorganized free-for-all with way too many unauthorized people wandering around on the convention floor.

As far as "lofty lifestyle ambitions" why does the state party pay for Labriola's luxury car lease for a 7-Series BMW that costs $1,000.00 a month?

Any why on earth did it take almost an hour after voting ended to tally the results? I'm sorry King but that was disorganization at it's finest. Labriola started yelling at the vote tabulators claiming they were "making him look bad in front of the media." Well geez Jerry, maybe you should have gotten your ducks in a row ahead of time and implemented a system that wouldn't make you look like the disorganized chairman that you are.

Elvis Conti said...

Hey Bill Jenkins you know it was Beefeater Healy who contracted the Convention Center for this year when he was still (hickup) chairman. Why doesn't he drop the name Chairman Chris on his twitter account and why don't you use your real name when commenting on the AmeriQueen Blog instead of using Jokers Wild? Btw as a lazy state central member you are a Joke (R)

The King said...

First, I don't see how it's Chairman Labriola's responsiblity to tell everyone about discounted parking tickets from the stage. Moreover, if you were paying attention, you would have noticed that the tables offering discounted tickets were positioned right in front of the escalators, and some people complained that the tables were a contributing factor to the logjam to get up the elevators to the District sessions (people complain about everything).

Second, I'll deal with the cost of the Convention in another piece. But I'll leave you with this though - if you somehow believe that renting the Convention Center for two full days was cheaper in 2010 than squeezing it in one session, then you might have a math problem. And I believe holding the event at the Convention Center was a deal that Labriola was locked into based on a contract set before his Chairmanship (need to validate this though).

Third, I see no reason to bash Brian Cafferelli who works day and night for the CTGOP, often serving as a babysitter for some of our "high maintenance" people who really wouldn't be happy unless they received a fun-filled FREE night on the Party. Where the hell do you think the money comes from to run a Convention? The Sky?

Fourth, "Why on Earth did it take so long?" It took so long because instead of being gracious and taking the win on the first ballot, and calling it a night - Linda McMahon's Campaign went into full court press mode to switch people so she could "run up the score" and claim 2:1 margin on Face the State on Sunday and - make a fool of herself by calling on Chris Shays to withdraw from the Race. Had her operation not decided to go for the jugular, the extra time lingering around, tallying and recounting could have been avoided. If you didn't like the long evening, talk to Linda. If you didn't make the 11 pm news cycle - well ho-hum - the damn thing was being broadcast live anyway, and no one really cared.

I'm sorry if the delegates didn't want to sit around and listen to Linda's speech which she opted to give before all of the tallying had concluded. If the Convention ended at 9pm they all still would have bailed to go home.

Disorganized? You should have been there in 2010 when the last Chairman had his own "war-room" cut off from the delegates so he could manipulate every moment of the Convention. Labriola? He was 100% neutral, and stayed out of the Electioneering game. People should feel relieved that the Healy-Marx days are over.

Anonymous said...

I thought the convention was well run. There's no such thing as a perfect convention. The fact I was in at 1:00 and out at 11:00 with a nice dinner break, who can complain. People are ridiculous. I am so sick of these pikers who can afford a fricken parking ticket. And Central CT is a horrible place to hose a convention. Would you rather have burnt coffee and a soggy ham sandwich. PLEASE! The work shops were a smart idea and so were the speakers. Jerry and his staff did a fine job.

Anonymous said...

It was my first convention and I thought it all ran pretty smoothly. I have nothing to compare, but discussions with past delegates led me to believe the previous one was a ghoulish nightmare.

I was surprised Shays people surrendered so easily after the first round. My exhortations to them to try and turn Hill and Lumaj people in order to shove Linda beneath the 50% threshhold to claim the nomination was met with, well, exhaustion. They were pacing the aisles, wondering what to do. Most told me, "We're gonna primary so it doesn't matter" but I thought it did. Perhaps Shays asking Hill and Lumaj for their support in stopping Linda would be too much for them, and their supporters were definitely the principle voter crowd. I personally tried to turn some Lumajers who stoutly refused on the basis of principle. Even my offer of "help me make a big, newsworthy mess" was met with "you weren't here last time, were you? An autobahn pileup is nothing compared to that."

Bugs Bunny said...

King its high time Bill Jenkins gets removed from State Central. Can Art Scliabba let you know what it takes to remove him? If I remember correctly there is a simple process to do that and I believe that if all the nonsense and other stuff the King may have on Bill Jenkins is made public State Central will call for his. Porky Pig Head to be roasted soon. What Jenkins forgets is he is in a fiduciary relationship with the CTGOP and must fight to protect its honor. Since Jenkins is from Woodstock and liked to surf the net at work I think the King should rename him Woody Wood Jenkins !!!

Elvis Conti said...

Let's face it King the game is over. After the Sunday Courant story on Linda I can see Murphys Commercials already. " What do Loan Sharks have in common with Wall Street " - the announcer asks? Answer -" Linda McMahon". Put a fork in us we are done !

Anonymous said...

The courant article demonstrated nothing. It was the Carter years and inflation was rampant. Shays needs to get up and convince the public he's the best choice. The negative attack game is played out and won't work. Linda won despite the videos of nearly naked women being abused by two Neanderthals. She won despite the scandalous tom Scott attacks, despite the slapping of her daughter who was there to support her, and despite her dropping her own poll no one bought. 2:1 is a big number. No one can defeat CT GOP better than itself. Bashing the competition doesn't sell the car. Telling why the car is the best fit for the price and features the buyer is looking for sells the car.

Elvis Conti said...

Linda never won anything, she lost in 10 and will again.Gaining and endorsement and becoming a nominee is not winning. Winning an election is winning, something Linda will never experience.btw the features and price are not important if all you are going to do is drive it offa cliff. Its all just too damn funny

Anonymous said...

The Linda machine after she already had a 2:1 margin win was awful. Her young minions were near tears if their individual quotas weren't met; running around telling us they'd be fired on the spot if we didn't switch to get her margin higher. It was sad, exhausting, and a little fightening to be on the receiving end of begging, crying and immense pressure. They filled out a switch sheet for me without permission and I had to physically move away from the panicked browbeating. Nuts!

Dan Reale said...

"Telling why the car is the best fit for the price and features the buyer is looking for sells the car."

Yep. Damn right. So the GOP needs to spit it out already or go home.

Sounds like that guy from Woodstock is still kicking around, too. Still can't thank him enough for boosting support for the CT Libertarians. Might be worth encouraging him at this point since there's not enough collective will within the GOP to actually change course...