Richard Blumenthal kicked off the next chapter of Connecticut’s U.S. Senate race in Independent Voter Country with a swipe at his opponent’s decision to pour her personal wealth into the race. The chapter’s emerging title: Who’s The True Angry Populist?
“The people of Connecticut want this to be an election, not an auction,” Blumenthal declared to 350 supporters gathered Sunday evening at a campaign barbecue. “And we’re going to make sure that people like you matter more than money.”
Blumenthal chose East Haven’s Village at Mariner’s Point condos overlooking Long Island Sound for a “kick-off” barbecue for the general election campaign now that the primary season has ended. Democrat Blumenthal is facing Republican Linda McMahon for the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd. McMahon, a former World Wrestling Entertainment executive, has vowed to pour $40 million to $50 million into her campaign; she already spent over $20 million to win her party’s nomination in last week’s primary.
The candidates have lavished attention on East Haven for a reason: It mirrors the challenge they face in the general election, in which unaffiliated voters, Connecticut’s largest “party,” hold the key to power. The state has 832,725 people who registered as unaffiliated with either major party, compared with 742,980 registered Democrats and 412,155 registered Republicans. Independent/unaffiliated voters dominate East Haven, too: 8,234, compared to 6,240 Democrats and 2,621 Republicans, as of last Oct. 27. And voters tend to pick candidates, not parties, on election day: They keep sending liberal Democrat Michael Lawlor to the state House of Representatives, for instance, and conservative Republican Len Fasano to the State Senate.
“East Haven is a bellwether. Whoever wins there usually wins the state,” observed former State Republican Party Chairman Chris DePino, who moved to the town this year. He noted that East Haveners voted for both Republican Gov. John Rowland and Democratic U.S. President Bill Clinton.
And as East Haven Mayor April Capone Almon put it Sunday, the fiscally conservative, socially moderate town is prime territory for knock-down drag-out campaigns like the one brewing for U.S. Senate, with some of the highest voter turnouts in the state. “The town sport is not football. It’s not soccer of lacrosse like in some other towns,” Almon said. “The town sport is politics. And it’s full contact.”
In East Haven, as in the state as a whole, Blumenthal and McMahon are laying claim to the populist mantle in order to lure independents disgusted with the two major parties and with Washington. Their competing claims mirror the emerging tacks taken by Democrats and Republicans nationally this unpredictable election year, with decidedly divergent definitions of “outsiders” and “fighters.”
McMahon has sought to portray herself as an outsider taking on untrustworthy, insider politicians—noting that Blumenthal has served as state attorney general for 20 years and was caught by The New York Times misstating his military service during Vietnam.
Blumenthal, meanwhile, devoted his remarks Sunday to his record fighting corporate special interests like the insurance industry and portraying McMahon as one of those interests—a corporate executive trying to purchase a U.S. Senate seat with her personal wealth.
“We’re going to be outspent. We’re not going to be outworked,” the candidate declared.
“People are angry and frustrated. They feel Washington isn’t listening. Washington isn’t working. They are right,” Blumenthal said. “What I want to do is change Washington, make sure that sweetheart deals and giveaways to the big energy companies and the pharmaceutical industries and all the special interests are stopped ...
“And I know how to fight them. We stopped them in Broadwater [when he and shoreline towns opposed a natural gas plant in the Sound]. We recovered money from the pharmaceutical drug companies. We fought the tobacco companies. We fought the health insurance companies when they denied insurance to people who deserved it.”
McMahon spokesman Ed Patru called it an “insult” to “some of the most intelligent and educated voters in the country” to suggest that a candidate can buy their support.
“If Linda sat back in a La-Z-Boy and threw money at this race without doing anything else, she would have lost long ago,” he said. “She’s done over 660 meetings and events—she’s simply outworking everyone, and she’s getting in front of voters.” He added that the money she’s spending brings her “parity” with a public official who has built his name recognition for over 20 years.
The Populist Tax Mantle
Like Republican candidates in other states, McMahon hopes to use the pending expiration of former President George W. Bush’s tax cuts as a palette from which to paint her Democratic opponent as a foe of tax-weary voters. McMahon has called for for Congress to extend all of the temporary cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003.
Democrats like Blumenthal, meanwhile, will either find themselves on the defensive, portrayed as liberal taxers; or they’ll go on the offensive, portraying Republicans as advocates for tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy who don’t pay their fair share.
Blumenthal didn’t mention taxes once in his remarks Sunday. Asked about the issue after his speech, he came out for preserving cuts for all taxpayers except those at the very top of the income scale. He called for preserving tax credits for day care and “small business,” the latter because of their central role in creating jobs. Democrats are generally calling for letting temporary cuts expire for the marginal rates for the top 2 percent of taxpayers earning over $250,000 a year and return to where they were during the Clinton administration.
Asked about estate taxes, Blumenthal similarly said he’s support extend some of the Bush-era cuts but not for the wealthy. He didn’t elaborate on the cut-offs. (Click on the play arrow to watch his responses.”
He said that renewing tax cuts for top earners, as McMahon has advocated, would “balloon the deficit”
McMahon spokesman Patru responded that McMahon would accompany an extension of tax cuts with $1.3 trillion of federal budget cuts, including a “freeze on all new hires and new pay increases” and the bank-bailout and economic stimulus plans.
Like Blumenthal, Patru cast the tax debate in light of job creation. He said that the estate tax and capital gains tax benefit the middle class as well as small businesses, which create jobs. “Independents are looking for economic recovery and jobs and the reason Dick Blumenthal continues to lose support among this critical voting bloc is because he’s admitted he can’t explain why unemployment is so high, he’s never created a single job and he thinks lawsuits create jobs,” Patru argued.
Former GOP Chairman DePino said the jobs and taxes issue can swing either way in East Haven.
Voters there are looking for “job opportunities for their children and grandchildren” and for tax “stability,” not necessarily tax cuts, he argued.
“Republicans are missing the boat with, ‘I’m going to lower your taxes.’ That doesn’t hunt anymore,” DePino argued.
No independent voters were encountered in a brief sampling of supporters at Sunday’s barbecue. Some Republicans were spotted.
One of them, Barbara Natarajan (at left in photo) of East Haven, said she votes “for the person, not the party.” She voted for Republican presidential candidate John McCain in 2008. She’s voting for Democrat Blumenthal for Senate, she said. “He’s tough. He doesn’t back down. He takes on big business.”
The McMahon-Blumenthal battle for independents may come down to who is influenced by McMahon’s TV advertising and newcomer/ outsider image; and who has personally met Blumenthal over his non-stop 20-year tour of the state or has personally benefited from having him take up their problems with about insurance or government bureaucracies. Grateful constituents are the the emerging stars of his ads.
Put Republican Alfred DeRosa of Northford in the latter category.
He came to Sunday’s barbecue to support Blumenthal because Blumenthal settled a problem his wife Linda DeRosa (at right in photo) had at a Hamden nursing home. She got fired—on a pretext, she said, so that the company could avoid paying a workmen’s compensation claim. She told Blumenthal’s attorney general office. The office got her compensation claim approved and her “record cleared,” she said.
“I want to give him a check,” Alfred DeRosa said, looking at Blumenthal shaking hands a few feet away. “Do I just give it to him?”
Money and corruption are ruining the land, crooked politicians betray the working man, pocketing the profits and treating us like sheep, and we’re tired of hearing promises that we know they’ll never keep.
posted by: EASTIE on August 16, 2010 9:36am
If elected Blumenthal would side with Obama. And I can’t stand 0bama.
“An election, not an auction” - nice phrase, appreciated particularly by this commentator involved in the auction business.
But how about not simply an “election”, which is little more than numbers’ counting—but a dialogue. I’m still waiting for Blumenthal to have something to say about the biggest scandal in the state’s attorneys’ system happening in his term as attorney general; and from the evidence I have, happening under his auspices. In case Blumenthal has forgotten, this is the scandal which cost two of the highest officials in this system their jobs.
This scandal bears heavily on matters of civil rights, responsibilities and accountability of public officials, and government transparency—major and central issues of democratic government at this time; as well as Blumenthal’s own decisions and behavior.
posted by: Bill on August 16, 2010 10:07am
If you think lawyers have been doing a great job running the country go ahead and vote for Blumy who has been against businesses his whole career. I’ve had enough of lawyers and am going to vote for someone who understands business, finance and the economy, Linda McMahon.
RICHARD BLUMENTHAL HAS ALREADY “SOLD HIS SOUL, TO PRES. BARACK OBAMA,” AND HIS ONLY ROAD-BLOCK IS LINDA MCMAHON, “WHOM VOTERS MUST VOTE FOR, TO KEEP BLUMENTHAL, FROM VOTING FOR OBAMA’S UNFINISHED COURSE OF DESTROYING OUR ONCE GREAT COUNTRY!” VOTE FOR LINDA MCMAHON LIKE YOUR LIFE, AND THE LIVES OF YOUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN, DEPEND ON IT!” IT DOES!
posted by: Cedarhillresident on August 16, 2010 10:42am
Come on Stan, Do you really believe that Linda represents the majority? I am not so sure. The one thing I do know is I have yet to speak to one person who’s life was not improved because of Richard, or at least knows someone who’s life was improved. Richard does not need to do this…he does it because it is the right thing to do. He is truly a voice of the people. That is who I want in office! When you contact his office you get a response and the people to help you with your issues. He is one of the most excusable politicians I have met and I know that will be true when he is our Senator!
When I contacted Blumenthal directly years ago about criminal activity in the state’s attorneys system which I describe as a protection racket for criminal corporate attorneys I had filed a criminal complaint against, I got a note from Blumenthal saying he wasn’t interested in hearing about it; and besides, there was nothing he could do about it. Following my contact with Blumenthal, I became a target of state-sponsored witness intimidation, including serious threats of physical harm. So I guess you could say, I am one person who’s life was affected by Blumenthal as attorney general—and if you ask the criminal state’s attorneys and corporate lawyers, they would tell you Blumethal has improved their lives by keeping them out of jail and keeping their pensions safe.
I have NEVER received a response from Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, to numerous requests. He was alway busy, with an existing priority, to respond verbally, or in writing,
posted by: cba on August 16, 2010 11:44am
Blumenthal’s remark of the election not being an auction smacks of sour grapes and is the typical professional politician’s lament when confronted by a well organized and financed non-politician. Get over it misspeaker !!!!
posted by: Townie on August 16, 2010 11:47am
To Watchman: McMahon attended the Democratic National Convention and she probably voted for Obama in the general election. In fact she is a liberal Republican (socially liberal/fiscally conservative), her business thrives on social liberalism, i.e. free speech and expression. And I hate to break it to you but Regan, Bush I and Bush II all had a hand in ruining our once “great” nation. Blumenthal does understand business, he has worked to protect jobs in the state, the most recent being the Pratt & Whitney matter. He is the best choice, he is a native son and has a long records of public service. McMahon is a carpetbagger from North Carolina who simply chose Connecticut for her corporation’s headquarters because of its proximity to NYC.
posted by: jschm on August 16, 2010 11:51am
If we relect Dems in thi state after what they have done to this state, the voters are dumb. Bleumy who thinks suing companies creates jobs. He and the rest of the Dems have chased businesses out of this state and given us the second highest electric rates in the country.
posted by: Tom on August 16, 2010 11:54am
Enough with the all caps, this isn’t the New Haven Register.
Linda McMahon is simply not a credible candidate. Building an “entertainment” empire based on sleaze and steroid abuse does not qualify anyone to run for public office.
If elected, McMahon would bring the same set questionable morals to Washington that she brought to WWE. Add to that the fact that she hasn’t developed a platform in any meaningful way and you have a candidate that’s unqualified and unprepared.
Dick Blumenthal has dedicated his life to public service and has been a tireless advocate for the middle class in this state for decades. I can’t think of an individual better qualified to represent us in the Senate.
posted by: soundview on August 16, 2010 12:18pm
I think that Blumenthal has done an exceptional job for the people and businesses of Connecticut as our AG. As Cedarhillresident said, we all know someone he’s helped and the general protections for electric rates, holding contractors accountable etc… benefit each of us as well as Connecticut businesses. As a small business owner, I would be delighted to see someone in Washington with a proven track record serving the people of this state and a passion for justice. Conversely, you could support the candidate that supports steroid use, treats her employees like crap and would return us to the economic policies that almost drove this country off the cliff!
posted by: Cedarhillresident on August 16, 2010 12:39pm
Stan, What was your complaint that you contacted him about. Mine were..Child support..which I had a lawyer in the court room with me because of him. Now keep in mind I had alot of complaints with this…but when I finally had a court date he came through, Community issues, got advise on how to handle it. Medical Issues, got advise and people to call. That were able to help.
Bitching about the Mayor of New Haven is not a valid issue…but he has actually came through on some of those complaints once they where validated as legal issues. Ya see he can only help if there is a legal issue he is the GA…and not just things that you personally do not like. But we all have our own personal views on this and maybe you have not had a good experience with him or at the least the people who sift through the 100’s of emails he gets daily. I am sorry for that.
You follow the News right? I can just say that I have seen some of the others he has help over the years..the children, the list of family’s, the list of community’s, the company’s, the city’s and towns. The people of this country..what he has done in his life time to make the world a better place is more than any of us can ever dream of doing. Do I want Richard to leave as GA no…I do not want to share him gosh darn it..but reality is he is the best man for the job, and if our country can benefit from me sharing him… it is my job as a citizen to stand up and say Vote for Richard Blumenthal!
No Blume’n way. This guy has cherry picked each one of the issues that would leave him in a good light on TV. He is a glory hound for his own benefit, not ours. He’s just another divisive demonizer of big business, the guys who employ the people of Connecticut. A Democratic broken record. I can’t agree with a previous comment that spoke about qualifications. I know many representatives of the people who were farmers, doctors, cobblers, printers, clergy and military members. Check the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The only qualification past your age and citizenship (which went out the window with Obama) is that you care enough to do the job on behalf of the people. That leaves Viet Nam veteran….not, out of it.
Townie and Tom: Richard Blumenthal in Congress, is a VOTE for Barack Obama, who is systematically BURYING our great country, with his intended Socialistic Bankruptcy.
Like Blumenthal, both of you will obviously vote for Obama, “my vote goes to LINDA MCMAHON, who definately, will not vote for Obama, as our Senator in Congress.”
To each his own!
posted by: jschm on August 16, 2010 2:00pm
Competitive Investment Institute rates Blumenthal the worst AG in the country for overstepping his authority and putting companies out of business. He thinks suing companies is the way to create jobs. The state spends 32% of the gas tax on transportation and the Dems want tolls. We get only 69% of every dollar back from DC that we send to support other states. The Democrats policies have enlarged our state budget and they will never reduce spending. Blumenthal should never even be considered for Senator as he did a lousy job as AG. Why do you think the Prez of UTC said anyplace but CT is easier to do business. CT is rated at the bottom of every business friendly poll of businesses. The Dems have ruined this state
posted by: streever on August 16, 2010 2:04pm
@Watchman “Socialist”—hilarious! Very funny comments.
posted by: Townie on August 16, 2010 2:17pm
To Watchman: Barack Obama is going to continue to be the president no matter who wins the Senatorial election. And as I stated before, McMahon is a liberal on social issues, and has no track record of “Republican Conservatism”, as for her fiscal policy, I don’t see how her corporate experience will help her in public service. If she does win she will be in the minority party and therefore her position will be weak and ineffective. And please, stop throwing out hyperbolic rhetoric. Obama is doing the same as Bush did, as all Presidents have done since FDR. Inflate the deficit through spending and irresponsible/corrupt oversight policies. Bush spent billions on pointless wars, Obama will spend billions on pointless healthcare reform and corporate bailouts. Just face it, America was never as great as you thought it was. And it never will be.
You “SAND-BAG” Linda McMahon, but she is not our expected problem. Our National problem NOW, is BARACK OBAMA and his destructive, Socialist financial course, to National disaster. Linda McMahon, will not be voting for Obama’s bankrupt spending policies, but Richard Blumenthal will.
American voters must eliminate some of “Obama’s Rubber-Stamps” in November, without adding Blumenthal to Obama’s disciples, leading us to disaster.
Voting for Linda McMahon, is caring for America. She will not sell us out, for Barack Obama, who is, in process selling out our country!
posted by: Cedarhillresident on August 16, 2010 3:38pm
So your argument is not here but in DC. What will make the economy better. Capitalism “trickle down effect” protecting the wealthy from taxes so they will invest in USA company’s—-> which will create jobs—> which will in turn create spending—>. AKA “Linda’s tax breaks to the wealthy” If it was 30 years ago I may have agreed with you. But it is far from the truth as I see it. The rich in this country changed the laws. To make them richer. Those jobs and new big buissness are gone. If Linda gets to give those tax breaks to the people she wants to give them to…do you really think the money is going to trickle down? NO..the work goes over seas..they use every loop hole to try to not pay the taxes they should…look at folley…his yacht is registered in the islands ...tax free. Sure the money is to. Lindas products for WWF are not made in the USA they are made in china. The trickle down theroy is outdated with the trade laws the way they are…tax breaks to big buissness does not in any way make jobs here!!
But if we give the middle class the tax break will they take the money out of the usa or will they spend it??? They will spend it… they will put it back into the economy. They are the true back bone to this country. They are the over taxed part of society…the percentage of their income that goes to paying taxes far exceeds the wealthy’s percentage of their income. The middle class will spend there money on products but sadly because big company’s are so greedy, the product is no longer made here…the loop holes need to be closed! Blumenthal knows this and will do it! Linda and friends benefit from those holes. She has no intention of closing them.
Just my middle class take on it.
usless fact: her GIANT YACHT is named “Sex on the Beach”
posted by: robn on August 16, 2010 3:47pm
Get real dude. It’s the Bush recession that we’re all paying the price for. The kid maxed out mom and dads credit card to throw a kegger while they were away and now its mop-up time.
Watchman, Obama’s financial reform didn’t do squat. Our country relies far too heavily on financial games and ghost capital that doesn’t exist and most likely will never exist. Obama should have taken steps to make the reinstatement of Glass Steagall possible, instead he went in the opposite direction towards a republican model of corporatism. People voted for Obama because they thought he was a progressive candidate, he is just Clinton #2 who happens to have inherited a terrible economy and two wars. His response to these issues has been bipartisan watered down crap that will do nothing but most likely exacerbate the problems. Health Care reform wasn’t reform at all, it merely cemented the monopolization of the health care industry to a few very large middlemen non-service providing corporations that grow by having a populace that is increasingly sick. Another republican corporatist bill. The bank bailouts were a continuation of a republican policy of financially securing the top 1% at the expense of everybody else. Obama is a corporatist moderate. The democrats and the republicans are terrible, we need aty least 4 additional options that represent very different political views and that aren’t controlled by lobbyists and special interests.
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 16, 2010 3:53pm
posted by: Watchman on August 16, 2010 2:55pm
Voting for Linda McMahon, is caring for America. She will not sell us out, for Barack Obama, who is, in process selling out our country!
Blumenthal is unlikely to do anything to fix the Social Security mess. The Social Security trust fund is invested in government bonds which means taxes will have to be raised to pay back Social Security. The money should have been invested instead of spent in the general fund. Obama thought it best to add another unfunded program called health care reform which just adds to our financial mess.
posted by: streever on August 16, 2010 4:02pm
Didn’t Linda donate more money to Obama & the DNC then Blumenthal did? I must be confused!
Is this the same Linda who started and ran a very successful company in CT without paying taxes on her business here because she had it registered in another state?
Sounds like a real leader who adheres to a strong commitment to keeping CT safe of those darn liberals.
posted by: Cedarhillresident on August 16, 2010 4:51pm
:( Sorry Stan…it is not the Valley here :) As you can tell we are all a bit liberal…well most in some form or another…hang around for a while it is great to have a different look at things :) or who knows maybe we can convert you :)
JH wow you are jamming on you comments lately!
Robn laughed at yours :)
posted by: John on August 16, 2010 9:37pm
From the Gettysburg Address Lincoln notes.. that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. Unfortunately it’s become a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich.
posted by: Mom of 3 year old on August 16, 2010 10:17pm
Well, I was not impressed by the pool of candidates prior to the primaries and here we are.
If the candidates on the Nov. ballot were Blumy and the devil, then I’d have a lawn sign up that read satan 2010.
My friend’s mother is being raked over the coals by a lousy contractor and she contacted the AG’s office for help. Because she doesn’t have any clout and there are no cameras or media, he’s ignored her requests.
I’ve never in my life seen someone so in love with the camera. He’d go to the opening of an envelope if press are present.
As long as Linda doesn’t screw up badly between now and November, she’ll get my vote. If she screws up, I’ll stay home. I’ll never for Blumy.
posted by: bill on August 17, 2010 6:57am
“Pentagon’s plans to buy 21 Russian-made choppers for use in Afghanistan.” “Sikorsky filed the protest with the U.S. Government Accountability Office earlier this month.” “ It is outrageous to me that Sikorsky wasn’t afforded the opportunity to bid on this contract,” former WWE CEO Linda McMahon
The campaign for Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who is taking on McMahon, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
posted by: Townie on August 17, 2010 8:00am
Watchman: Why do you think McMahon will behave any different from any other politician in DC? Her voting record and “opinions” will be shaped by the popular mood and she will behave so that she can gain re-election or another office. The problem with this nation is that people are under the impression that the two political parties actually stand opposed to each other when in fact they do not. They are two sides of the same coin and they operate in order to maintain their power and the power of the Federal Government. Obama is not a socialist, it would be nice if he was, so please stop repeating an accusation that has no factual basis. In fact, Obama has continued many of Bush’s economic and foreign policy programs. And please if you’re going to blame Obama for out of control spending you have to be fair and cite Bush for his out of control spending (military) and tax cuts, the latter has been proven to be a major source of the current economic crisis. And let us not forget the wars of aggression and conquest waged on Iraq and the people of Afghanistan. Our problem is the government, both parties, all politicians and the saps that vote for them. People like you, who regurgitate mindless rhetoric without once thinking independently. This nation has always been a nation for the wealthy. It was created by men of wealth and power for the benefit of men of wealth and power. The American Dream is merely an ad line meant to lure cheap labour to our shores.
posted by: MM on August 17, 2010 8:29am
Get real. General Electric is headquartered in Fairfield CT. It is one of the world’s largest corporations. It is registered in Maryland. I wonder why? So it pays less tax in CT. Don’t bust McMahon for doing what every sensible business person would do. If there were more successful business people running government it would be cost effective and efficient. Unfortunately for us all elected office seems to be the sole preserve of attorneys these days. As a profession all they are capable of is talking too much and taking our money.
posted by: Tom on August 17, 2010 9:46am
So your argument that it’s okay for Linda McMahon to engage in tax evasion is, “Everyone’s doin’ it”. Good one, I used it myself when my mom caught me smoking cigarettes in eighth grade.
posted by: Cedarhillresident on August 17, 2010 10:09am
When I was getting ripped off by FreeCreditReport,com. I received no reply or help from our publicity- hound Attorney General, (VISA got my money back with the Attorney General’s office doing nothing to prevent this fraud.)
Now he can pound sand asking for my vote.
Although I would have preferred Rob Simmons, the Wrestling Queen will get my vote.
Don’t want another liberal in the Senate.
posted by: Mom of 3 year old on August 17, 2010 6:50pm
Townie, you’re only a little more pessimistic about politics than I am. (smirk)
I agree with most of what you say. Since 2006, I’ve been saying politicians are all the same regardless of party. I LOL at people who toe party lines with an iron fist, thinking their candidate is as devote as they are.
As for my vote, I’ve never voted for Blumenthal and I’m not going to start now. I never liked him but my dislike has increased since he ignored my friend’s mother who is also fighting stage 4 cancer along with the problems with the contractor. The CT Post has covered my friend’s mother’s story but I’m not sure I could link the story here.
posted by: Staven resident on August 17, 2010 11:59pm
McMahon is whacked, plain and simple. Blumenthal all the way.