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!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thoughts on CTGOP Senate Debate 2

I realize this piece is less than timely, but I thought I’d put something out at least for posterity’s sake, and if not for any other reason – for the fun of it.

General Thoughts on Debate Number 2

To begin with, I have to be honest that I’m not a big fan of the format used by WFSB-TV Channel 3 to host this second Senate debate. The 30 second sound-byte question and answer format might make for good television, but it’s hardly useful for those of us sitting at home trying to really learn a thing or two about the candidates in order to make an informed decision about who to vote for. If WFSB were serious about providing a public service – they would’ve hosted a 90 minute or 2-hour debate and allowed the candidates more time to explain their positions more thoroughly, and permitted follow-up questions by journalists that were of interest to viewers.

Most of us are less concerned about who the candidates think is their favorite Senator from Connecticut history, what the candidates think the price of milk is, when they last pumped gas, or what kind of car they drive. Anyone making decisions on who they’ll support based on frivolous questions like these should be banned from voting altogether.  That part of the show was full of play it safe or unoriginal answers anyway - once you hear the best answer, all you have to do is repeat it - it wasn't a surprise that 3 out of 5 Republicans chose Prescott Bush as favorite Senator with the annual Prescott Bush Dinner being held less than a day and half away! Duh!  Questions like those wasted both the candidates’ time, and viewers’ time. At least the two guest journalists weren’t left to embarrass themselves by being asked to pose such foolish questions.

For the most part, The Wall Street Journal’s Shelley Banjo, and the Connecticut Mirror’s Mark Pazniokas did a good job trying to squeeze the candidates for details, but moderator Dennis House seemed to push along the debate too quickly almost before the candidates could do any damage to each other, or to themselves. Don't get me wrong - the questions were good, but lacked the pointedness which led to fireworks that sparked in the debate moderated by Ray Hackett last week - so to that end, I was a little disappointed.  Ray Hackett set a high standard in the first Senate Debate and the Face the State version fell well below that mark.

I like Dennis House, but rarely if ever does he really challenge people with tough questions.  If you can't make it through a Face The State interview, you aught to quit politics.  It doesn't get any easier than FTS. It's like watching guests play an easy game of badminton with Dennis each Sunday.  Occasionally, he does have Bad-Ass Brian Lockhart on to ask a tough question or two, but Dennis always seems to pull on his leash so as not to allow for any of his guest to have a serious mental breakdown.  But I guess it works for WFSB, and no-one will ever accuse House of being a gotcha-journalist.  I still propose Shoot Out with Brian Lockhart as a viable option on a competing network: cowboy hats, six guns, and all - it would be a real hit! Think of the possibilities of seeing your favorite Connecticut politicians limping off the stage each week, figuratively bleeding and wounded at the hands of Sheriff Lockhart.  Oh man! We can still dream can't we?

Overall Performance Ranking

Last time out, I thought that Brian K. Hill led the pack with his stellar performance - original and refreshing, followed by Linda McMahon, Chris Shays, and then Peter Lumaj and Kie Westby pulling up the rear. This time around my rankings are close but somewhat different.  

One of the reasons for the delay in this piece is that I wanted to go back and re-watch the debate to make sure that my initial reaction wasn't off base - and I believe my gut feeling (reported out on Twitter) was supported by a closer review of the hour long exchange.  I’d say for the most part all the Republican candidates did very well presenting their positions and representing the GOP as best they could getting their points across under such limited conditions.  Chris Shays did extremely well and came out on top because he seemed more relaxed and truer to his usual form.  Linda McMahon was the opposite, she came across very stale, and at times looked very foolish trying to trip up Chris Shays on trivial matters that he easily dismissed as in accurate or misleading.  More so this time, Linda seemed to really lack tangible facts beyond her early unloading of memorized statistics.  This is where her overconfidence hurt really hurt her - a mistake she's made for three years now.

Brian K. Hill was once again quite good.  The reason that Chris Shays shined better this time around is simply based upon Shays' detailed references to his past-experience in Congress, and overall depth of knowledge.  Hill's outsider approach works well for him, particularly last time when he played referee between Shays and McMahon (while the others just stood there like mannequins).  This time, he didn't get that same opportunity, but sold his R-R-R plan as a believable strategy for the public to absorb.

Peter Lumaj is a bright guy, but his overall presentation and style is abrupt, rude, and confrontational.  Anyone watching Lumaj doesn't even want him as a neighbor never mind seeing him represent them in the Senate, or anywhere else.  Imagine what it would be like sharing an adjoining property with Lumaj and having a dispute about where the property boundary really lies.  Some people have a knack for being bright, but also have the ability to darken a room the minute they enter it - Lumaj is exactly that.  You just don't want to see him coming.

Kie Westby is a nice and knowledgeable guy, but he just doesn't have an ounce of charisma.  He's a lot like a going into a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Shop, and ordering plain vanilla.  He's not wrong about what he says, it's just he's very dry and uncanny.  He reminds me of the guy who wants to talk about work when you go out for a drink after a long day's labor. After about twenty minutes you just want to slit your throat and jump out of the barroom window.  At this point, he's not really separating himself from the pack, and he's not even mildly amusing like annoying Lumaj.  He's a policy-wank who would be better off in the State Senate or elsewhere.  Again, Kie is a great guy, but this Senate deal is just not his gig.

Individuals Performance (Best to Worst)

Chris Shays

I'm back! Was there ever a doubt?
 Congressman Christopher Shays acquitted himself much better than he did during last week’s debate where he looked sort of off-balance, and disorganized.  I actually wondered if we were watching Shays' stunt double up on the stage in Norwich. His opening statement “My name is Christopher Shays, and I’m running for U.S. Senate because I want my Country back.” The comment was as direct an opening you can get, abandoning all the cutsie window dressing heard from others. He came across strong on issues, and looked the part of a statesman, and once he took command, her never looked back.

I was glad to see Chris Shays raise the electability question early during the debate since it’s  the only question that REALLY matters. It’s important to point out the objections that  many Republicans have to allowing Mrs. McMahon to repeat history and take another trouncing on Election Day. Pushing her through to November is what every Democrat is hoping for given her resoundingly high negatives with the public.  And today's debate performance sort of underscored the many reasons why people don't want to see Linda as their nominee in the Fall.

The winning strategy for Shays is the benefit of his Congressional experience: in-depth grasp of the issues, co-sponsoring legislation, being a key sponsor of the Contract with America, and underscoring the many areas in which he was part of the solution.  Those calling him part of the problem haven't spent a minute researching his background.  When it comes to spending at the Federal level, aside from cloture votes, Mr. Shays was pretty thrifty with our tax dollars.  This is a point that he and his surrogates can do a better job reminding folks of.

I do love Shays’ statement: “Linda McMahon isn’t a fiscal conservative because she wouldn’t spend $50 million dollars so recklessly, and she’s not a social conservative because she wouldn’t run the business she’s in. You really have to question what kind of Republican would donate thousands of dollars in ’06 to elect Nancy Pelosi Speaker [of the House], and then give thousands of dollars to keep her in as Speaker [of the House] in ’08. I’m not sure that’s the kind of Republican people want to send to Washington.”

Bravo. And by the way – Linda McMahon has never provided Connecticut Republicans for a rationale for her donations to Democrats over the years, but it seems pretty shady to simply ignore the fact when it’s raised. I like Shays’ comment about removing ObamaCare (not repairing it as others have suggested). Shays said, “And by the way, Obamacare won't get repealed if you don’t elect [someone] who can get elected.”

Shays was quite strong on domestic policy issues such as health care, reducing taxes on businesses, and tax reduction across the board, bringing back American manufacturing, and eliminating our dependency on foreign oil, dealing with Medicare, and Medicaid issues, etc.  When you look a Shays speaking on these issues, you cleary see that he's qualified to talk about them -  you simply don't get the same feeling when you listen to the other four candidates.  This is where experience counts over wishful thinking and funny cliches.

Shays would also deal with the matter of who are here illegally by having them carry a Blue Card. That seems to be a way in which they could work, but not vote, and certainly not be deported. I think I’d have to hear more about how this Blue Card would work before I would buy into this strange idea. Seems like lots of details would need to be worked out before the Government starts printing out Blue Bards to illegal aliens.

"The most important thing that we can do is focus on economic growth and provide opportunities for more American, and that’s called the American Dream"… reducing taxes. Home run!

Brian K. Hill

Sharp as a tack, Hill brings value
and common sense to the race
Once again Brian Hill’s performance was well above average. His masterful command of the issues and straight-forward answers makes him a breath of fresh air in-between a group of very predictable individuals. Hill used many of the same themes which he invoked during Debate One which made him both appealing and interesting. It might because he reused many of the same lines from last week so he didn't come off as fresh and original as he did the first time around. But it was still a great performance.

Hill’s statement that “We need new leadership in Washington” is an age-old theme usually spoken by politicians who’ve been around the block but just in a lesser role (this includes Linda McMahon whose 'newness' has long worn off). But the fact that it’s coming from someone who actually is new to the scene gives him some credibility on the matter.

As he mentioned last time out, Hill said, “We don’t need any more career politicians, and we don’t need any more self-funded candidates. Those are the type of people who are destroying this country.” Even though it makes for a great theatrical sound-byte, this is sort of a double-edged sword for Brian K. Hill who has the least amount of experience of anyone running on the GOP side. Having experience is valuable – whether it’s consistently practicing law for many years, or serving in Congress for 34 years – and to be frank - not everyone in Congress who’s been up there for many years has been a disaster. It really boils down to who they are,  or what their voting record shows - that truly matters.  The counter-argument to going with a novice might be the pitiful results of the last three years of the Obama Presidency - since his lack of experience has been a disaster of sorts.

A point that Brian Hill continues to make is the need for the CTGOP to expand its base, and by that he means – expanding gains by attracting minority voters; changing the hearts and minds of those folks who reside in our cities to whom Republicans do not appeal. The problem here is that this idea looks great on paper, but fact is that its not an easy nut to crack, and no-one including Brian Hill has a plan for making this happen (aside from him becoming the nominee and assuming that he'd siphon off a few votes with his minority presence). You'll remember that this tactic didn't exactly pay dividends for another popular African-American politician - Corey Brinson.  Although Corey is loved and admired, at the end of the day his minority status didn't exactly win him the election in Hartford. Corey Brinson was rejected by inner-city residents on the basis of his Republican principles, and their lack of appeal to Hartford residents.

I’m not sure that Brian’s attack on politicians residing in lower Fairfield County will win him a lot of support in the Southwest, but you have to admit his quip that “...nominating Linda or Chris is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. It doesn’t matter what order you put them in the ship is going down. We need a candidate like myself who can navigate around that iceberg – Obama.”  is entertaining.  You've got to love his spunk and delivery.  But again, would being a new face help Connecticut in the Senate Chamber?  I'm not so sure.

But I should say this - of all the candidates, Hill’s R-R-R (Reduce, Reform, and Restructure) explained in simple terms as - Reduce spending, Reform entitlement programs, and Restructure the tax code to a flat tax. It seems pretty simple, and it is probably the most memorable and understandable plan of any of the five GOP candidates.

Brian K. Hill was also strong on the immigration issue. He said he would support a liberal guest worker program. Making the statement that he's wants accountability of people who are here, and to find a way to tax them for the services they are using. I agree with both of these ideas. He seemed to endorse Chris Shays’ Blue Card idea which is as he said a “fair compromise” to consider.

Hill also supports the Gold Standard. Which is a topic that always seems to come up now and then, but never seems to gain any real traction.

Again, great job.  It's The King's View that he's earned a spot on the ballot.

Linda McMahon

It's only $50 mil, just raise
ticket prices
Surprisingly, Linda McMahon came across very rehearsed and unnatural during Debate 2. She almost immediately blurted out numbers and statistics as a school boy does during a memory dump to jot down formulas on the inside of an blue book moments before the start of an exam. The phony presentation was clearly more visible this time, and by the end of the debate revealed itself in the form of the most remarkable answer to one particular question that you’d better believe that her handlers wish she could take back (and likely has her competition scurrying around to calculate their own statistics).

This Plan that Linda constantly touts is really not a plan at all, but a list of general ideas without any substance behind it. I read through it line by line, and although it has some good ideas - I'm not that impressed. A plan is supposed to outline how one gets from point A to point B; if you read Linda’s so-called plan you’ll see that there is no meat to it. Surely, it’s a nice color brochure, and great marketing, but it’s hardly a roadmap for “moving the ball down the field.”

One of the criticisms people have always had about Linda McMahon is her shallowness as a candidate. And with two additional years of preparation for this race, we haven’t seen any real improvement in the quality of her positions. I have trouble with a candidate who constantly hides their specific points of view from the public. She almost has to be put on the spot in a television interview - the few she grants - to find out where she stands.  Ask any of her surrogates what she thinks about this or that, and they can’t tell you. This debate did very little to help us know who the real Linda McMahon is. And that’s an unbelievable thing considering that she has the commitment of people who don’t seem to know, or care where she stands on the issues, either.  Everyone seems to only be interested in her money which as we've seen guarantees nothing.

One of the things that’s most surprising about this contest is the willingness of the other candidates to allow Linda McMahon to fool voters into believing that her her company is  some normal, run of the mill operation.  WWE is unique in its product and appeal and is not tied to the same economic indicators that most small or large business are - markets, exports, economic growth, etc.  WWE is tied to ticket sales which may do well based on the quality of the show she puts on, but have little or no realistic comparison to mainstream businesses.  And there is a big difference between making a lot of money off of the backs of entertainers, ticket sales, and -- forging and creating a legitimate business enterprise which consists of a product one can truly be proud of. P.T. Barnum made a bundle fooling people and committing numerous acts of a fraud in a business very similar to Linda’s. Yet the other candidates seem to shy away from questioning its legitimacy as a business, and the negative aspects of it – which go directly to her un-electabilty problem.  They even shy away from questioning the role she's really had in its creation, and success.  What a pity.

One of the lines that Linda often uses is to link Chris Shays to the famed Bridge to Nowhere, but the problem with this line of attack is that her attempts to inaccurately portray Chris Shays as a big spender is hardly his record in Washington. One thing about Chris Shays is that he was pretty tight with the penny. And to attempt to sell the Bridge to Nowhere as some stand-alone vote instead of what it was - part of an enormous package of domestic and foreign policy bills rolled into one ... is dishonest. Picking apart votes to serve your own interest is a long-time election tactic that is both disingenuous and misleading to the public.

Linda McMahon doesn’t like it when someone blames her for the death of her employee-wrestler Chris Benoit who murdered his wife and child, and then committed suicide while under her employ, but she will use the same kind of tactic – guilt by association – to try and make cheap points against Mr. Shays by tearing apart cloture votes. Not the brightest thing to do when there is so much filth, injury, and death in her profession which honestly begs the question – how much does she know about all the drugs, violence, and deaths? And as an industry owner, how much is she responsible for?  But she doesn’t like to talk much about her Professional Wrestling Empire for some reason - except to advance her job creation myth.  And the recent post-debate press release by the WWE is as ludicrous as it gets.

And Linda McMahon speaking forcefully on health care issues doesn’t make a shred of sense to me. As former Candidate Richard Blumenthal pointed out – her company, the WWE,  didn’t exactly cover her employees the way she pretends it did. For the most part, her employees were on their own when it came to health coverage. So how this makes her an expert in business-run health care costs, I’m not quite sure – and sadly, none of the other candidates took the opportunity to point out this clear irony. And it’s very true that McMahon donated quite a bit of money to national health care advocate Democrat Nancy Pelosi – and not just once, but twice. I’m just surprised at how quickly State Reps and State Republican Leaders are so quick to forgive such blatant treason, in the hopes that they too can peel off some of her cash for their own coffers.

Linda McMahon is also on the class warfare bandwagon. She inaccurately accused Chris Shays of being against a Middle Class tax cut when he had just got done saying he was for a tax cut across the board. Fact is that Shays was quite clear that he wants to lower the tax rate for everyone as he pointed out succinctly for a second time during his rebuttal. Once again, Linda McMahon’s attempts to take cheap shots at Mr. Shays seemed to backfire as he seemed more prepared to deal with her chicanery and twisting of facts. Even her accusation of that Chris Shays voted most of the time with Democrats is misleading when the records shows that he voted 75% of the time with Republicans (Chris Murphy voted 96% of the time with Democrats). Another example of how Linda is grasping at straws to try to earn cheap points.

When Mr. Pazinokas asked Linda McMahon is she could see any way for those who are here illegally to find a path to citizenship – she completely avoided the question, went straight to the memorized script, and spoke about preventing illegals from coming over the borders and uttered that she'd tell those who came here illegally to “get to the back of the line” – whatever that means. She wants to impose a penalty on those who don’t pay their taxes, which isn't outlined anywhere in any of her plans, but made for good rhetoric on stage.

On the immigration question, Linda further said that if someone commits a crime they should be deported. Personally, I think if they commit a crime they should be held, tried, and punished. And only if the punishment warrants less than jail time, perhaps then deport them. But unlike Linda, first and foremost, I would hold accountable any illegal person for a crime they committed, and if it means giving them due process, and such ending with them serving time in our jail cells - so be it. Linda’s idea advocates for illegals to commit crimes and get away with it. Very bizarre, indeed.

Her overall performance was mediocre to poor. But I think that Linda McMahon really did herself in by suggesting that Joseph Lieberman was Connecticut’s all-time best Senator. Does she understand that Lieberman voted with Democrats 85% of the time? Does she understand that on most domestic issues, Lieberman was always a hold out, but generally voted with his own Party against Republicans?  I hope this struck a cord with those who are curious about what to expect from a Senator McMahon who finds supporting Democrat position just fine with her.

Perhaps her support for Joe Lieberman is par for the course for Linda McMahon.  Her handlers did not prep her in advance for the question.  And as a result she went back to what she knew best, and what she believes in - which is probably why she donated to Democrats in the first place.

The one saving grace in all of this for Linda McMahon is that there are five candidates, and two of them performed far worse than she did.

Peter Lumaj

I will save America from Socialism!
There is no doubt that Peter Lumaj has a great refugee story to tell. His modern day Ellis Island tale is a fabulous one worth repeating, particularly - in this day and age when so many people who’ve been here much longer sit around complaining that opportunity is lost in America, and they need Big Government to save them from their penniless plight.  I have to admit that Lumaj is probably the most conservative guy in the race which would make him a shoe-in if he were running in Tennessee or someplace out in the Midwest.

Peter Lumaj’s problem is that he’s Peter Lumaj. He comes across as an arrogant S.O.B. On the question of compromise – and it seems pretty simple Lumaj is against it. His unreasonable approach to working with others would not endear him to anyone within his own Party never-mind the other side of the aisle. His overly negative approach to the last two debates underscores why he wouldn’t be a good choice for Republicans in August. As for his criticism of Chris Shays, he might want to go back and look at Shays’ record more closely – and note that Shays was well regarded as a fiscal conservative, and was a co-author of the Contract with America which brought about significant positive changes for our Country including wholesale Government reduction.  You'd also see that the Contract with America was well-principled and much of it supported by Bill Clinton in an act of compromise. The outlandish argument that Chris Shays is responsible for the poor state of the country today is totally unreasonable. This is the kind of thing that makes Peter Lumaj look foolish.  Lumaj seems to discount the work Shays just just completed to save taxpayers $60 million dollars within Government Military Contracting division.

Lumaj also ventured to call Linda McMahon an “empty suit who stands for nothing. Her policies are completely confusing. She doesn’t understand the role of a Senator. You’re not a State Senator.”  Wow! It’s not often that a male candidate makes such a nasty remark against a female opponent – sort of bold, and probably not well-received. Mr. Lumaj might be conservative, but I'm sure conservative champion Jack Kemp must be rolling over in his grave at the way he represents us.

Another point that makes Lumaj look outrageous is that he often invokes Ronald Reagan, but like many who do, he seems to have forgotten that Reagan was most successful because he compromised with Democrats on domestic issues (from taxation to spending) and managed to get things done through a give and take process. The revisionist history that portrays Reagan as some immortal God to whom Democrats cowered in fear is pure fiction. Lumaj should study his history before using Reagan as a campaign prop for his so-called absolute and unapologetic brand of conservatism.

We also learned that Peter Lumaj wants to eliminate the Department of Education, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Energy. While there may be some merit to shrinking the size of these federal agencies, I’m not sure how selling the elimination of these three (and more) helps Republicans win the election. Moreover, every time I hear the words Federal Reserve, I immediately become terrified and have visions of Ron Paul waving his fists in the air. This kind of talk is frightful to Independents and even moderate Republicans – who Mr. Lumaj doesn’t think we need as part of our majority to win elections. Mr. Lumaj's one view of the world is counterproductive to our goal which is after all - winning.

Lumaj challenging Medicare as likely unconstitutional probably won’t win him any votes either.  The King predicts that if Peter Lumaj ran today, he'd be lucky to gather 5% of the vote with his divisive attitude.

The one chuckle I got from Peter Lumaj was when he said, that “Linda's tax plan was misplaced. And the guys, who wrote if for her, do not understand….” I love the fact that he went out of his way to point out that Linda’s well-paid marketing firm put together her plan. Bold point, but also comical because it’s likely true - and he had the audacity to say such a thing on television. It is true that nothing that Linda claims to be her own creation is actually hers – not even her business which was long established before she and Vince took it over from Vince’s father after his death in the late 1970s. All of her experience is built on a false premise that she even built a business from the ground up – again, none of which is true.

Lumaj was outright rude when asked about Immigration Policy. He was trying to be coy by saying that the immigration issue could be blamed on Mr. Shays who served usor pretended to serve us – a very classless comment to make during a Senate Debate. Does Mr. Lumaj really mean to imply that Chris Shays wasn’t diligently serving his constituents when he was in office? Really? And then to look over at Chris Shays and say, “Please don’t call immigration on me.” Is Mr. Lumaj just a big Wise-Ass?  We think so. 

The one thing we learned about Peter Lumaj (as if we didn't know it already) is that he lacks any sense of respect for his opponents, or the process.

Kie Westby

This may not be the job for Kie
This format wasn’t good for Kie Westby whatsoever. And to make matters worse, right out of the box his focus was The Constitution. I’m not sure about others, but when I hear a politician talk about The Constitution as his primary concern my blood pressure goes up about 75 points. The most important problem we need solved is improving the economy and figuring out how to reverse the incredible backward slide we’ve been on over the last three years under President Obama. Following The Constitution is not in itself - a plan! It’s politics. It doesn’t create jobs, it doesn’t put food on the table, and it’s not a motivating factor for anyone with half a brain to want to leap up and vote for you. There aren’t too many people standing around in bread lines with their heads down muttering, “If we had only followed the Constitution.” Nuts!

One of the positions that Kie Westby discussed was his idea to rewrite ObamaCare. I’m not sure he got the GOP memo that we aren’t looking for a revised national socialized medicine scheme of our own making which -  reserves more power to the states as he said - or anything remotely close to that. We want the whole damn thing scraped and forgotten about since no one goes without health care in this country except those who refuse to seek it.  Westby's position on health care is not conservative.  Heck, it may not even be moderate.

And although he didn’t say it implicitly, Mr. Westby seemed to be the only candidate who would deport people who are here illegally. That might have been his strongest point in the debate.  Other than that most of what Westby contributed for the hour was not very exciting or original.  That isn't to say he isn't a thoughtful or bright man - he is. But this Senate run just isn't his gig.  Given what we've heard so far - I'm very suprised that he's in this race at all.  I'm not sure he's even convinced he should be running.  It's The King's view that after the Convention is over, he should probably drop out and endorse someone.  This would save him from back to back humilations when it's truly not necessary.


Yeah, I know this is too long.  I hear this all the time.  But what can I say? 

This race will come down to several factors outside of the rigged Convention that's  planned for next month.  Based on what these candidates are all saying - the CTGOP State Convention is merely a prelude to a five-way battle that will begin at the end of next month.  It may come down to whether or not those who shouldn't really remain in the race siphon off enough votes to give the victor the win at the time of the August primary.  With all five candidates remaining on the primary ballot for August, this likely means that the Party could end up with a nominee that nobody wants at all. 

It will be interesting to see if forces with in the Party come to their senses and merge camps to allow for the most electable candidate to take his crack at a seat Republicans haven't held since the time of Lowell Weicker.  And if Brian K. Hill's ominous foreshadowing comes true again, and we will set ourselves up for defeat before the election even takes place.

But one thing is for sure.  If the Connecticut Republican Party nominates Linda McMahon, she will guarantee the Democrat Party a Senate seat.  And she will have set a new record - for being the only Connecticut Republican candidate to have knowingly delivered a U.S. Senate seat to Connecticut Democrats twice in the modern age.



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.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Connecticut 2nd District Tea Party Patriots host Candidate Meet & Greet

CT 2nd District Tea Party Patriots
deserve kudos for contributing to the
state political process
An email was passed along to me from from a group known as the Connecticut 2nd District Tea Party Patriots which held a Meet and Greet with the Candidates on April 20, 2012 at the Waterford Town Hall in Waterford, Connecticut. 

The videos are as grassroots as the people hosting it, and we want to extend appreciation to those who took the time to capture the event on their phones and make it available for everyone to see.  If anyone has additional footage of any events like this that they would like to share, I'd be happy to post it up on The King's View as a public service to CTGOP voters. 

While I didn't think it appropriate to post the email I received in its entirety, I did want to highlight one section in particular which stood out:

"We also wish to thank all of the candidates, for not only attending our event, but for running for office. It is not an easy job, running for office, it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there, to take the “heat”…the negativity that exists (whether warranted or not). Someone has to step up, you all have, so thank you and good luck to all of you in your individual races. "

It's true that all of these political guys and gals take a lot of criticism from the press and public (and even from The King), and without them we wouldn't have a process at all.  So, I join the Tea Party Patriots in a tip of the cap to those bold enough to put their names, reputations, and cash on the line to try and make a difference.  I'd say 80% of our candidates participate because they believe in solid principles, and our State, Nation, etc. The other 20% have amassed plenty of wealthy and seek only the power and position that comes with elected office. It's the latter that deserve our scorn and disapproval for their motivations which are less than noble.  Whatever you do, just keep that in mind the next time you enter the voting booth - are they running for you, or for themselves?
The Meet and Greet Discussion followed these rules:

* Candidates selected numbers and were seated accordingly.  Each section began with the next candidate.
* Senate: Peter Lumaj (1), Linda McMahon (2), Kie Westby (3), Brian K. Hill (4), Chris Shays (7).
* 2nd Dist Rep: Daria Novak (5), Dan Reale (6).
* Candidates had 2 minutes for each answer

    - Part 1: All candidates answered Q1
    - Part 2: All candidates answered Q2
    - Part 3: Each candidate answered a different question Q3-Q9
    - Part 4: Rapid Round (Y/N answers)
    - Parts 5-10: each candidate has 2 minutes for a summary

Raw video:

CT 2nd District TPP Meet & Greet 4/20/2012 Part 1 of 10 (Everyone answers Q1)
 Ques 1:  We want to give you all the opportunity to explain to the Constitutional President Obama the 3 branches of Government and their role.
CT 2nd District TPP Meet & Greet 4/20/2012 Part 2a of 10 (Everyone answers Q2)
 Ques 2: What is your understanding of your prescribed constitutional role and duty as a US Senator or US Congressman? Please elaborate.
CT 2nd District TPP Meet & Greet 4/20/2012 Part 2b of 10 (Everyone answers Q2)
 Ques 2: What is your understanding of your prescribed constitutional role and duty as a US Senator or US Congressman? Please elaborate.
CT 2nd District TPP Meet & Greet 4/20/2012 Part 3 of 10 (Each candidate gets separate Question)

 Individual question, one per candidate:

1. Kie Westby - Question - Are there any federal programs you are willing or unwilling to cut or reduce?

2. Brian K. Hill - Question - What is your position on the Affordable Health Care for America Act, known as Obamacare? (Would you focus on repealing the health care bill in its entirety, will you try to defund it, amend it?)

3. Daria Novak - Question - Would you support legislation requiring all laws must cite where in the Constitution it derives its authority?

4. Dan Reale - Question - In view of America's tremendous national debt ($15.6 Trillion), should we continue giving foreign aid to over a 125 countries?

5. Chris Shays - Question - What should the federal government do to strengthen the national economy and create jobs?

6. Peter Lumaj - Question - The 2nd Amendment reads "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." What does that mean to you?

7. Linda McMahon - Question - Do you believe that Social Security and Medicare is in financial trouble? If so, what should be done to strengthen it?

CT 2nd District TPP Meet & Greet 4/20/2012 - 4 of 10 - Rapid Round (Y/N Answers)

1. Do you support the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)of 2012?
2. Will you support an independent audit of the Federal Reserve?
3. Do you support the United States involvement in, and support for, the United Nations?
4. Will you support a national value-added-tax (VAT)?
5. Do you believe Quantitative Easing (printing money) can stabilize the economy?
6. Do you support the United Nations Agenda 21?
7. Do you support Cap N Trade legislation?
8. Do you support the Employee Free Choice Act, known as Card Check?
9. Is it Constitutional for an agency of the Federal Government to write rules and regulations which are enforced in the courts as "laws?"
10. Do you support federal bailouts in general?

Parts 5-10 - Each candidate has 2 minutes for a summary:

CT 2nd District TPP Meet & Greet 4/20/2012 - 5 of 10 - Daria Novak / Dan Reale

CT 2nd District TPP Meet & Greet 4/20/2012 - 6 of 10 - Chris Shays

CT 2nd District TPP Meet & Greet 4/20/2012 - 7 of 10 - Chris Coutu Representative

CT 2nd District TPP Meet & Greet 4/20/2012 - 8 of 10 - Peter Lumaj

CT 2nd District TPP Meet & Greet 4/20/2012 - 9 of 10 - Linda McMahon - Kie Westby

CT 2nd District TPP Meet & Greet 4/20/2012 - 10 of 10 - Brian K. Hill

Again, thanks for taking the time to digitize the event.  Have a great week!



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.

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.