Democrats are looking to take down Republican Gov. Jodi Rell next year.
After two decades without a Democratic governor, despite a lopsided advantage in voter registration in Connecticut, the party is eager to capture the state’s top political post.
Nancy DiNardo, who’s in her third term as the state Democratic chairwoman, told Bristol Democrats this week that the party has “a deep bench” heading into the gubernatorial race and stands a good chance of knocking off Rell.
But not everyone sees it that way.
Jim Hopkins, a party activist, said that Rell “will win easily” if the Democratic contenders spend the next year and a half ripping into each other instead of targeting the Republicans.
He said that with Rell’s popularity, she may not only win re-election, she might help the GOP capture the U.S. Senate seat held by Chris Dodd, who’s struggling in the polls in the wake of unproven accusations that he got favors from mortgage brokers.
If Rell runs again, Hopkins said, “she threatens out senatorial seat” because Dodd’s own poll ratings are low.
The Republican National Committee’s “going to put a ton of money in here” to boost Rell and try to take down Dodd, warned Hopkins.
DiNardo said that she generally agrees with Hopkins’ take on the political situation that party faces, adding that it’s been a topic of discussion lately.
DiNardo said that Democrats need to take aim at Rell as much as possible.
“It is unfortunate that we have a governor who lacks any vision,” said DiNardo, a Trumbull resident.
She said that Rell, who hasn’t said whether she intends to run again in 2010, offered “a disingenuous budget” to the General Assembly that neglected to address more than $2 billion of anticipated revenue shortfall.
Fortunately, DiNardo said, the Democratic-controlled legislature is “holding her feet to the fire” in a bid to make her offer a plan to close the gap.
“She values the millionaires more than ordinary, working people,” said Terry Parker a potential City Council candidate in the 3rd District.
DiNardo said that Rell has proven over the years that her image as a nice person isn’t quite the true picture.
“She does these little political games,” DiNardo said, and can be vindictive toward those who don’t fall in line, which her efforts to eliminate the state’s insurance advocate prove.
DiNardo said that Rell got a free pass for a long time because “the press loved her” and didn’t tie her to the scandals of her predecessor, former Gov. John Rowland, who tapped Rell as his lieutenant governor.
She said Rell has never been a leader, just someone who reacts to headlines.
Democrats have an opportunity to send Rell packing, DiNardo said, if they can keep the heat on and expose Rell’s record.
DiNardo said that Bristol is lucky to have someone like Art Ward as its mayor.
She said he is humble and has demonstrated “foresight and vision” in running the city for the past 15 months.
Noting the recent Standard & Poor’s bond rating upgrade that Bristol achieved in the midst of a recession, DiNardo called the achievement “phenomenal.”
Democrats eyeing the governor’s office next year
Former state House Speaker James Amann
Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz
Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy
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