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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Retro Recap of the August 14 Primary; What Next?

I realize that it’s been several weeks since the August 14 Primary. And my view at the time was that there wasn’t a sense of urgency to publish a post about the outcome – which was always predictable, offering few, if any surprises, whatsoever. I also believed that there wasn’t much of a reason to go bonkers; pounding the daylights out of our opponents given that the die was cast perhaps as early as June (maybe much earlier in some races). It’s not that I gave up, but with summer as short as it is, I believed that time was better spent enjoying the great weather and company of good friends rather than getting all wound up and frazzled about a fleet of run-away trains headed over the cliff. Looking at it from purely a mathematical perspective, the delta between the victors and the defeated proves my thinking right. There were no close outcomes; instead, lambs were put to the slaughter in every race.

Of course, I knew I would eventually publish something. I drafted an early version of this post, shelved it for over a week under the guise of a cooling off period, with the plan to come back later on to modify it - had my opinions changed. I figured why not let the smoke settle a bit before pouring gas on a blazing fire. I expect that as usual my views will clash with conventional wisdom and the thinking of CTGOP Party hacks, and that’s perfectly fine. I continue to write what people think and seem to be afraid to say, and more often than not - I predict the outcome long before it happens. For me it’s not about “being right”, as much as it’s about praying that one day the CTGOP will take the extraordinary step of altering its usual self-destructive course, and make the voters (a.k.a. taxpayers) winners again. From the looks of things, it’s not likely now or in the future. But anyway… buckle up, here we go….

With only one exception, primary night’s results were certainly not all that unexpected. Everything that you’ve ever known about politics came true – moderates win when conservatives split their votes, and television ads and print media trump digital-free grassroots campaigning - even when aided by big-time endorsements. In truth, the only bright spot for Connecticut’s badly fractured Republican Party, was watching Lisa Wilson-Foley’s campaign crash and burn after months of nasty campaigning and personal attacks by her surrogates on (former) friends, and foes. If there was any surprise, it might have been the fact that no one expected Speaker Chris Donovan to become embroiled in a massive scandal which all but resulted in Elizabeth Esty getting the Democrat nomination (Update: as of this writing bitter Donovan has decided to withdraw from the Working Families Party line). Esty’s win is a plus for Republicans because she harbors some extreme views, which enough to make even the most moderate Republican like Andrew Roraback look appealing to those in the middle, and hopefully to the right (a future post is in the works on that point!). Whether Roraback can survive the long negative shadow cast by Linda McMahon being atop of ticket is yet to be determined. But it certainly won’t help.

If you don’t want to read the rest of the detail below, I can save you some time. In November, there will be few surprises here in Connecticut. While I still believe National Republicans will muster enough voter dissatisfaction to remove an ineffective and arrogant Barack Obama, we will be likely beaten across the board here in the Nutmeg State. And to make matters worse, the results of the U.S. Senate Race primary have all but guaranteed that Mitt Romney will avoid Connecticut. Connecticut will become the ultimate flyover state thanks to Linda McMahon, a fact brought to you by our Connecticut Republican State Central Membership and many of our RTC officers – who played their parts well in McMahon’s scripted storyline - it’s unfortunate for all of us [Republicans] that the song and dance we are about to encounter will result in a sorrowful ending.

Shays v McMahon

Now I’m not going to get into a long diatribe about what went wrong with the Shays campaign; I could easily write six volumes. But I’ll point out a few things that clearly helped destroy his campaign from the start – before it ever really got going (that’s if it ever got going at all). I like and admire Chris Shays even though he’s far more liberal on several issues than I am, but I respect his service, and the manner in which he conducted himself during his tenure in Congress. I remain steadfast in the belief that he was our best and only chance of a Republican winning a U.S. Senate Seat for decades to come. Of course, none of that matters now, and as we know – nice guys tend to finish last, and the disorganized and inept campaigners – dead last. When it came to the Shays campaign strategy, you almost had the sense that he was doomed from the very start. What struck me most was that he had already been briefed about the McMahon strategy first hand by her last opponent Rob Simmons. Simmons had warned Shays repeatedly about what to expect, and what was required to beat his ambiguous foe. Shays seemed to ignore all counsel, and he ran his campaign as if it were a local contest for State Rep; he rarely ventured out of his home district, and when he did, he appeared uninterested and tired, as if he was forced to do so.

"All I wanted was my F*&^%ing Country Back, You Wrestling *&^?!" Got it??!!

I don’t know when Shays made his decision to run. But from all signs, the whole misadventure appears to have been a last minute deal. After being ahead of McMahon in the Quinnipiac public opinion poll in February, he walked into a hostile CT State Convention and took a drumming that was hard to swallow. The problem was that the majority of convention delegates and town committees had been bought off months in advance; the Convention was simply the final act of a well-orchestrated show by the McMahon team. Worse, McMahon’s surrogates worked hard to humiliate Shays by working the floor to turn the remaining delegates to their side for nearly an hour after the first vote was taken (a classless and unforgiveable act) in order to try and reach the three-fourths threshold, and force him to collect signatures to ballot. After that fateful night, everything turned south, and Shays never rebounded.

Shays enlisted the help of a fundraising outfit, PierceZappi to help him raise funds, and plainly speaking, they fell flat on their rears. Nice people, but clearly exceedingly poor results. Complaints have circulated that the mixing of candidate lists may have resulted in fewer dollars raised by Shays (and more by other candidates they were working for). This compounded Shays’ problem since he didn’t have the capital to produce mailers, campaign signs, and most importantly - run televisions commercials to promote his public recognition. Some estimates were that to every one sign of Shays, Linda McMahon had 200. On television, he was persona non grata. In the final analysis, Linda McMahon’s job was made much easier by the fact that she was running against a ghost. This was far more than her campaign could have ever hoped for. Not even fundraising visits by Republican Strategist Carl Rove, or a public snub of McMahon by Mitt Romney in Hartford helped booster Shays.

It’s clear that the Shays campaign didn’t know how to use the weapons they had at their disposal until the last few hours of the campaign when they put out a few robo-calls – of course, by then - it was too late. Losing by 27% is one thing, but gaining only 27% of the vote is a far more shameful a result than could ever be imagined. Conspiracy theorists have already begun to cast Campaign Manager Matt Wylie and his team as insiders paid by Linda to run his campaign into the ground citing that no-one person, or one team could be this incompetent. Indeed. Whatever the case may be, smart candidates won’t be reaching out to this crew if they do their homework. Effort is Admirable, Achievement is valuable. In this case, both components are missing.

By late July there wasn’t much else that could be done. Unfortunately, there are quite a few CTGOP leaders, like Larry Cafero and John McKinney who stuck their necks out and put their reputations on the line to help Chris Shays. It must have been horrific for these guys to watch events unfold. They must have been saying, “What the F-- is he doing?” - Because I know that’s what I was saying. From my perspective, I could see the writing on the wall in early June. And the Quinnipiac poll which he had earlier been touting as the be-all-end-all, flipped direction in her favor the second time around. It was as if an Australian Boomerang had come back around and clocked him square in the head. Live by the polls, die by the polls – Shays had painted himself into a corner of defeat.

Shays performances in the debates were ok; he got better as time went on, but of course time wasn’t on his side. My view is that the debates didn’t help either him or her, but they certainly helped Chris Murphy and the Democrats. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I was taunted about “your likely nominee” from my light-hearted friends on the left. Everyone watching them could see exactly how shallow a candidate Linda McMahon truly is – rehearsed, unknowledgeable, static, boring, and incompetent. None of that will change now that August 14th has passed. And they don’t make the kind of Cliff Notes which will enable her to cram or absorb twenty volumes worth of basic understanding of economics, public policy or Government functions. If you haven’t figured it out by now - her avoidance of newspaper editorial boards wasn’t due to scheduling conflicts, it was because for someone like Linda – who doesn’t know anything – they are simply an intellectual death trap. Well, guess what? – She won’t get to pull the same trick in the coming months. And since she’s pretty much declared war on the media, it’s bound to become very interesting soon enough.

Lastly, I was disappointed to see Chris Shays jump onto Linda’s bandwagon so quickly and put out a press release saying he’d vote for her and even work for her in the November Election. Not that I expected him to show sour grapes either. So I have to surmise that he got a pretty sweet deal from her - negotiated in advance - to cover his campaign debt, or he completely lost heart and soul. At one point in the campaign he said he wouldn’t support or vote for her because of some of the campaign tactics she had used against him. To many Chris Shays supporters, his quick act of contrition might have earned him a few temporary points with McMahon supporters, but to his own supporters who rooted him on, and worked their arses off for him – he left them all feeling rather empty. He could have at least looked respectable by waiting a few days before getting down on his hands and knees and bowing before her. Rushing out to make that announcement made him look weak, and unprincipled. It was a sad final moment on a long and pointless campaign.

Linda McMahon never stopped campaigning from the moment she was defeated by Richard Blumenthal. What she lacks in policy knowledge, personality, and charisma, she makes up for in being able to follow a carefully crafted script; part of her trade, of course. The problem is just that those scripts don’t work against a population that is already in large part suspect of you, and the industry in which you made your millions from. You can’t undo a lifetime of hypocrisy; it’s just not going to happen.

Right or wrong, Linda McMahon and her cronies deserve credit for formulating the solid strategy she needed to win the nomination: direct cash and indirect payments to Town Committees, and influential Individuals, including the buying of delegates, and bankrolling supporters help win the ground war. All of this helped her steamroll her lifeless opponent. The question is now what? The public can’t be bribed or bought, and are far more cynical of Republicans, especially fake ones at that. An eager media can’t wait to unleash their stored archive of unprinted documents, and stories about Mrs. McMahon, her bankruptcy, and her industry. What will be most interesting will be watching how much heat CTGOP Party officials will be willing to take by acting as human shields for Linda McMahon, which could lead to their own demise (particularly those who are in their own close races). Will John McKinney and Larry Cafero come running to her aid when the heat gets turned up in September? Will Busway Joe stick his neck out now that the primary is over? Or will they all waive from a distance, running in the opposite direction – getting as far away from her as possible? I suspect that those in safe districts will reap the mutual benefit of making public appearances with her, and those in swing districts will likely run for cover.

Looking ahead to next year, the larger question will be what will happen to Chairman Jerry Labriola, Jr, and the State Party after November’s dismal results. While those pages are yet to be written, it’s likely to be another internal bloodbath between the money-takers and the see, I told you so reformers. And from Labriola’s perspective, he’ll have to decide if it’s worth his time and energy to preside over the fallout when the majority of those leaders responsible for the conundrum will likely remain in power, and continue their backstabbing ways, undermining his every move. At this pooint, The CTGOP Chairman’s Position a double-edged sword that only a fool would grab twice!

One has to feel for Chairman Labriola, Jr. who won’t have to look very far to find the unappealing elephant in the room. Everyone in the State Party recognizes that on her best day, Linda McMahon will pull in the high 30s simply because her negatives are so extremely high. There is no way to turn around her public image, because there is no way to undo her past. When confronted with questions about her Pro Wrestling background, she can only utter that she’s proud of the Company she’s created, but when you get to the details about what that company promotes, she either pretends she didn’t hear the question, or changes the subject. Statistics about your opponent’s attendance record will only get you so far – particularly when you’re Linda McMahon. It’s an albatross around your neck to be able to claim some level of success, and then be unable to talk about it to curious public, or editorial board. Check and mate!

Fifth Congressional District

"Don't worry I'll fix ya a strong one to ease the pain!"

The attacks on real estate baron Mark Greenberg, orchestrated by ex-Chairman Chris Healy, will go down in the annals of CTGOP history as one of the most repugnant, and hateful campaigns of all time. Over two full weeks after Primary Day, people are still talking about the Wilson-Foley team’s effort to character-assassinate Greenberg in way considered unforgiveable by any reasonable standard (distributing libelous documents to thousands of homes in the Fifth Congressional District). Mark Greenberg didn't deserve that. And it's not "just politics"; it's personal and simply unacceptable.

Lisa Wilson-Foley has damaged the Republican brand to the Fifth Congressional District to the point where the winning candidate, Andrew Roraback, will need to work overtime to have a chance of defeating Democrat Elizabeth Esty in November. Karma has a way of circling back and clobbering those most deserving; a poor second to last place finish could be just the start if more turns up on her fraudulent business front. And as The King has learned, legal proceedings could be in the works if time doesn’t heal old wounds. We’ll have to see about that one – after the November election.  Better open up that checkbook, kid. In the meantime, we can enjoy the fact that Old Chris Healy has extended his record of defeat. Given the mathematics, The Curse of Chris Healy may now rival the Curse of the Bambino. Well at least you have to give Healy credit for at least one thing – he’s consistent.

What went wrong for Wilson-Foley? Everything. To be honest, those running her campaign (including her dimwitted husband) became preoccupied with side issues – like this blog, for example – and wasting valuable time and resources dedicated to attacking not only candidates, but going as far as to attack supporters of opposition candidates. What a pathetic group of failures at that pay rate. The simple fact is that Wilson-Foley’s dirty campaign schemes got her nowhere, and destroyed her chances of winning anything. Once she started down that road, she initiated a full scale war between all Republicans in the District – a war she lost badly. After failing badly, she announced that this would be the last campaign she would partake in – good, and take that media glutton Healy with you. He’s a menace. And as long as he continues to hang around, he’ll the best hope Democrats have of retaining Connecticut - for the next fifty years.

Lisa Wilson-Foley: The King accepts your white flag of surrender. Now Go! Just Go! Stop blaming Mike Clark, and Mark Greenburg. And take Fat Maria with you before she stuffs herself to death!

So whatever comes next ought to be somewhat interesting. The King sees an even matchup between Democrat Elizabeth Esty (Pipi Longstocking) v Andrew Roraback (Howdy Doody). It’s a battle made ripe for the heart and soul of the sleepy 5th District. I sort of liked the idea of Speaker Chris Donovan hanging around on the Working Families Party line and making life hellish for Elizabeth Longstocking. But as predicted any traitorous thinking of Donovan’s didn't last long – for Democrats almost always find a way to eventually work together while CT Republicans always find ways to hold grudges against each other for decades. Yep, that’s one of the negatives of having do or die principles – you stick by them regardless of whether they kill you or not.

It's Elizabeth "Pipi Longstocking" Esty vs Andrew "Howdy Doody" Roraback
in CT-5

Second Congressional District

To be honest, I have more concerns about the potential for an embarrassing campaign on behalf of Republican. Its The King’s View that the Paul Formica who dazzled and shined early on has seemingly fallen flat. Not long before the vote, there was YouTube video of a debate between Cap'n Paul and his maniacal opponent Daria Novak in which – to her credit – Novak obliterated Formica on every question for nearly an hour. The simple fact is that either you know the material or you don’t. Cable Access is reported to have continued to run the debate throughout CT-2 which may have a negative impact on Formica’s initial impressions on those who don’t know him. Simple case in point that that you have to appear to at least have capacity to formulate coherent answers to simple policy questions (Note to Formica: The correct answer on the threat question would have included North Korea and other nation states which possess either a nuclear arms program or nuclear arms – not just Iran). In all honesty, one would have expected a book-smart Novak - with her uncanny nack for being able to memorize and use the works of orthers - to have done quite well in a one-on-one contest, but one would have also expected a veteran politician like Formica to have waged an even fight in front of a televised audience.

Cap'n Paul Formica is going to have to step up his game in the next round!
(And make Porky Jenkins walk the plank!)
Word to The King is that there is a feeling of dread based on these results given that Formica will be forced to debate a clever and steady Joe Courtney. Of course, there is always time for Cap'n Paul to learn from his mistakes, so we’ll be hopeful that he’ll review his performance in depth and right the ship to get ready for the next series of debates. If there is any district in the state that needs a Republican fighting for them – it’s got to be the Congressional Second. On the way to the beach, you can see it’s beginning to look the way Rhode Island used to look ten years ago – in decay and with dozens of boarded up businesses along the route. Even Linda McMahon won’t go down there – probably afraid to get her limousine dirty or something.

Of final note, The King is dismayed to learn that Porky Jenkins is holding Formica's purse strings.  Further examination of that decision may be in order.  If there is anyone who might give the Democrats false claim that Republicans have a war on women merit, it could be this character.  I'll leave that one alone for now.  It just irks me to see our Party's worst creatures weasel their way into places where they don't belong.  What a shame!  This isn't a reflection on Paul Formica, its a reflection on his lack of judgement.

What’s next?

Everyone constantly asks “King, when push comes to shove, will you vote for Linda McMahon in November?” If I answered that question about two weeks ago, I might have said “No” which is why I wanted to wait a few weeks before firing off an article that I might regret later on. So my answer now is “I’m not sure. We will wait to see what happens.” It’s pretty clear to all concerned that I’m not particularly fond of Mrs. McMahon. But I’m not a fan of Chris Murphy either. Linda is an embarrassment to my Party, and I don’t like the fact that she turned my State Party into both a laughing stock, and the Party of Patronage and Payoffs.

That being said, it’s very hard to simply say don’t vote for her because she’s corrupt – both candidates are corrupt creeps in my book – not one different from the other on either side of the fence. If it came down to a swing vote that would mean ending ObamaCare, and I could be guaranteed McMahon wouldn’t go back on her word, I might be inclined to vote for her. The problem is that she doesn’t seem to hold convictions on anything, and she won’t tell us where she stands specifically on most issues. Her previous donations to Democrats, and her ambiguous stance on most issues casts a shadow of doubt that she would vote any differently than opposition Democrats on key issues; this point still bothers me. Remember that she went out of her way to say that she thought Richard Blumenthal would be a great guy to work with? Well, he’s on the other side, remember?

Then you have to wonder where there are other matters where a Party line vote “yeah” or “nay” could mean the difference between a good Republican Bill passing or a bad Democrat Bill failing, and you also have to wonder if Linda would barter for her own power-play as a hold-out centrist, or if she would actually tow the Republican line. Make no mistake – I had questions about Chris Shays in such cases as well, but he would have been Republican-strong on economic and foreign policy matters while letting social issues slide (and in that case he’s no different than Linda McMahon who is not less liberal than Shays on these matters).

Some have urged me to support a third party candidate, but that’s not my cup of tea. I don’t believe in protest votes; it’s just not in my nature to waste my vote supporting someone who I disagree with 50% of the time to get back at someone I disagree with only 30% of the time. Such thinking is a bit moronic if you ask me as it sort of defeats the purpose. I also don’t believe I need to be the one to “Teach the Party a Lesson”. I can appreciate that line of thinking by some of you, but I think the General Public will do just that in November when Linda isn’t elected. If CTGOP loses big with her atop of ticket, there will be plenty of people coming out of the woodwork screaming “I told you so.” And they will call for Chairman Labriola’s and everyone’s head from their RTC Chairman to the lowly phone banker – and it will likely result in little change because most of these people are like unmovable concrete fixtures – so utterly convinced of their own correctness that they couldn’t be persuaded to any other course of action even if given the opportunity to go back in time and change it. Sometimes I think we should change the CTGOP logo to a mule because it certainly fits our nature perfectly.

It’s funny watching the massive logo atop of the Republican National Convention which reads in large letters, “We Can Change It” and how such a simple slogan carries so much weight in the minds of our national movement to rid ourselves of Barack Obama. Yet if given the chance to establish a moto in Connecticut, our CTGOP slogan would read, “We Can’t Do That!”  because any new and bright idea is DOA if it doesn’t come from one of the self-anointed, rehashed Dinosaurs who roam from campaign to campaign, year after year, and deliver us nothing but defeat, and a bag full of excuses when it’s all said and done.

Whatever people want to do on Election Day, I won’t fault you. I know many of you are discouraged and frustrated. I totally get that. I really do. But I would ask you to at least show up and support those Republicans who have earned your support and trust – whether it's Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, or local candidates running for the Statehouse, or those running in special elections where-ever they may be. There are a lot of people with R’s next to their names who aren’t rolling in c-notes like Linda McMahon or Tom Foley, these folks are on their own dime pounding the pavement every day - trying to get elected in order to eradicate the liberal infestation in Hartford which is eating away at Connecticut’s economy under Dannel Malloy and his friends. Taking your anger out on these good people because our State Party apparatus is corrupt and broken isn’t the answer. Do what you must in the booth to settle the score you need to settle, but please don’t no-show and penalize the innocent who are honestly running for office to make a difference for all of us.

Thanks for your emails and continued visits, although less frequent - there is a lot more to come.



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.