Sunday, September 6, 2009

Connecticut Lawmakers--Multi-Tasking With Taxpayer's Money

Thanks to the Internet, everyone now knows that members of the Connecticut General Assembly can multi-task. In an image that is all over the Web, two legislators were shown playing solitaire on their laptops during the final debate on the massive state budget. And another legislator was on the ESPN website.

And here we thought the majority Democrats were collectively a one-trick (or is that two tricks?) pony. That is, tax and spend. We now know that they've added computer card games to their skill set.

In general, most of us have been stuck in boring business meetings where an electronic device or even a yellow legal pad came in handy to do something more constructive--even if it's making a grocery list. But in this instance, you'd think that when the Democrats spend $37 billion of taxpayer's money, they'd at least pretend to pay attention during the legislative session.

Gov. Jodi Rell, a moderate Republican who is sometimes good on fiscal issues, must be running for reelection. Why else would she allow the bloated budget to become law without her signature? While disagreeing with the final result crafted by the Democrats after months of negotiation, Rell said that she didn't want to draw out the process even more by vetoing the package. But perhaps it's more likely that she wanted to avoid the political embarrassment of having her veto overridden, which might call into question to some degree the viability of her reelection chances. The governor did use her line-item veto authority to get rid of some $8 million in pork, however.

[Update: It turns out that the state constitution prevents the governor from cutting any spending at all from an unsigned bill, which makes her decision against either signing or vetoing the budget even stranger.]

The governor, who seems like a fine, well-meaning person, has yet to publicly announce whether she will seek another term. However, another reason why we believe she will ultimately run again is that earlier this year she nominated an ethically challenged lawyer to the Superior Court purely for political reasons. The plug should have been pulled on this appointment, but the legislature nonetheless confirmed the nomination. The story apparently has been scrubbed from the Hartford Courant website, but this blogger sums up the situation well.

Even Attorney General Blumenthal's office indicated in a roundabout way that the appointment should have been set aside. And consider that a similarly situated Republican had to withdraw his nomination before it went to a vote.

That being said, here's hoping Gov. Rell does run, because she is the only one standing in the way of the big-spending multi-taskers.

Over in neighboring Massachusetts, former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling may or may not run in the special election resulting from the passing of Sen. Ted Kennedy. In this case, we believe he ultimately won't run for two reasons: he really likes to spend time with his family, and he's wrapped up in his computer game business. Another significant factor is that the "Democrat-Media Complex" (as Andrew Breitbart calls it) will use "opposition research" of any kind to undermine his bid (e.g., the Washington Post is trying of all things to use an irrelevant, 20-year-old term paper to damage the campaign of a candidate for Virginia governor).

Schilling, a registered independent who also claims to have voted for Clinton in addition to his support for Bush and McCain, would likely be choice of virtually all the state Republications. Whether an independent candidate can run on the Republican ballot--or other related minutia of Massachusetts election law--remains to be determined. Although there will be other Republican candidates, the likelihood is that the party organization and rank-and-file will quickly coalesce around a Schilling candidacy--if there is one.

In a year when everyone is fed up with out-of-touch career politicians, you would have to concede that Schilling is a viable candidate. With runaway federal and state spending and millions of Americans jobless, isn't it time for a citizen legislator--rather than your typical pandering government functionary?

He would also prevent the election from becoming a walkover for the Democrats after what will nonetheless probably be their contentious primary.

On his blog, Schilling says he would only serve for one term, but does that mean just the final three years of Sen. Kennedy's term, or a full six years after that? The latter seems to make more sense; otherwise why bother mounting a campaign.

The World Series hero has a number of things going for him: 100% name recognition, personal wealth, the ability to raise massive campaign funds and garner strong support from the national party, a rather loquacious demeanor (which can sometimes be polarizing), and the fact that there is only three weeks between the primary and the general election in January.

And To those who would say Schilling isn't qualified, how do you explain Obama or Al Franken?

Yes, he will have to field a barrage of questions about his support for President Bush from a hostile Boston media. But he might tell the voters that as an independent, he takes each issue on its own merits. Like many, he can say that he became disillusioned with Bush on spending, that generally he is conservative on fiscal issues, but more moderate on some social issues (hence his support for Sen. McCain in the 2008 election), and that like McCain he will put country and state rather than party first.

Consider that whoever emerges on the Democrat side will be a tired, double-talking career politician with no real background in the private sector, Schilling could have the winning formula.

Ultimately we believe he will decline to throw his cap into the ring, but time will tell.

Update: Former congressman Joe Kennedy, Ted's nephew and BFF of Venezuela's dictator Hugo Chavez, says he's not running, which as the Boston Herald says, is "expected draw candidates-in-waiting out from the wings." Will this development push Schilling forward?