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    Republican congressional primary winner Ann M. Brickley sent a letter Thursday to incumbent U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, challenging him to debates in "at least six locations" rather than the single debate that he suggested in a press release.

    She ended her letter by saying, "In the future I would appreciate it if you would please send correspondence to me directly rather than have me find it in a press release." Then she released the letter to the press.

    A Larson campaign spokeswoman said later Thursday that the incumbent would be open multiple "joint appearances" at forums hosted by community organizations.  Asked whether Larson would agree to debates broadcast on TV or radio, the spokeswoman, Maripat Finigan, said, "we're going to see what we get invited to."

    Here is Brickley's letter: 

    August 12, 2010

    Dear Congressman Larson:

    Your election night press release after my victory in the Republican First Congressional District primary suggests that you and I hold one debate leading up to the November general election. 

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    The enforcement chief at the State Elections Enforcement Commission was laid off Thursday under a reorganization that she said she believes is motivated by a desire to sacrifice enforcement while promoting the state's program for taxpayer-funded financing of elections.

    "The upshot of this [layoff] is that enforcement is not a priority," Joan M. Andrews, director of legal affairs and enforcement at the SEEC, told The Courant in an exclusive interview within hours of a late-afternoon meeting to which she was abruptly called and informed of the layoff by the agency's director, Albert Lenge.

    "You can rename them the 'State Elections Acquiescence Commission,'" Andrews said.

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    According to the WWE website, Lance Cade (real name: Lance McNaught) died of apparent heart failure.

    He began performing in March 2003 and was released from his contract in October, 2008. He rejoined the company's "developmental territory" in Sept., 2009 and was released seven months later.


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  • 08/15/10--20:24: Peter Schiff and the press
  • It's kind of ironic that a guy who earned a national following as a television pundit would win up feeling like his political aspirations were at least partially iced by the media.

    But that's the way Peter Schiff sees it. The broker and businessman from Weston has long been a media darling; his analysis of the gold bull market, his thoughts on the trade deficit and his predictions of the coming economic crash are staples of CNBC and Fox Busines.

    Yet once Schiff declared he was running for U.S. Senate, he found his candidacy essential ignored by some of his friends in the national media, says his brother, Andrew Schiff.

    Andrew Schiff says the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and CBS News all ran "major spreads" on the U.S. Senate race a week or two before the Republican primary and virtually ignored Schiff's candidacy.

    Even Larry Kudlow, who has hosted Schiff on his CNBC show many times, scarcely mentioned his Senate bid.

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    Iraq Vets for Congress, a national group that typically backs military veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan running for Congress, is throwing its support to a non-Vet Tom Goley, who is running for governor.

    "I want to express the organization's deep appreciation for an extraordinary civilian running for Governor of Connecticut who served in Iraq in a crucial government position,'' the group's founder, Kieran Michael Lalor, said in an email to supporters.

    "Prior to serving as US Ambassador to Ireland and running for Governor, Tom Foley was asked by the White House to deploy his considerable business and management experience in Iraq,'' Lalor writes. "Foley's task was to help reestablish a free enterprise system in Iraq after decades of Saddam Hussein and his brutal henchman running the economy." 

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  • 08/16/10--21:26: The Chris and Chris show
  • Dick Blumenthal's friend-of-the-working-man campaign strategy has him railing, once again, against "Washington insiders."

    "People just think Washington isn't working for them," Blumenthal told the CT Mirror. "It's preoccupied with the special interests. It's gridlocked by partisan acrimony. Washington isn't listening, and Washington isn't working for ordinary people."

    The state's most prominent Washington insider says he wasn't troubled by Blumenthal's populist bashing. "No, I understand politics,'' Chris Dodd told the Mirror's Mark Pazniokas. 

    But another guy named Chris is taking umbrage on Dodd's behalf. 

    "Now [Blumenthal] takes issue with Sen. Chris Dodd, who has afforded Blumenthal every courtesy and political consideration,'' Healy wrote in a late-night email to reporters, reacting to Pazniokas' piece. 

    "Even when Blumenthal upstaged Dodd during the latter's withdrawal from reelection, Sen. Dodd never complained. Dick Blumenthal couldn't wait to announce. He wouldn't  allow Sen. Dodd to have his day. Chris Dodd continues to give Blumenthal a pass for bad manners and a lack of conviction."

    Healy never seemed to be much of a Chris Dodd fan but politics makes strange bedfellows.

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  • 08/18/10--12:14: Debating debates
  • Once again, the candidates for governor are sparring over when and where to debate.

    Democrat Dan Malloy issued a press release today announcing that he's agreed to participate in eight debates through the course of the campaign, using a strategy he deployed successfully against his primary opponent, Ned Lamont.

    "Since I began a run for governor more than six months ago, my goal has been very clear: to talk to as many Connecticut residents as possible about my values, my experience, and my ideas for getting Connecticut back on track," Malloy said in a press release.  "I welcome an open and honest discussion of the issues facing Connecticut, issues like job creation, expanding access to health care, and improving our public education system.  Connecticut voters deserve to know who they are putting their trust in to run the state in the years ahead."

    Malloy urged Republican opponent, Tom Foley, to accept the debate invitations, but the Foley camp accused Malloy of playing games.







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    Word of a second top-level personnel departure within a week has hit the State Elections Enforcement Commission -- this time in the form of a decision by Beth Rotman, the top-level administrator in charge of the state's system of public financing of campaigns, to leave the agency early next year.

    It was less than a week ago that the election agency's director of enforcement, Joan Andrews, was laid off under controversial circumstances -- in what the agency's director, Albert P. Lenge, described as a consolidation move to increase efficiency, but which Andrews said was part of a trend toward softening the agency's approach to enforcement of election laws.

    In Rotman's case, there is no controversy.  She said it's a matter of her home life: Her partner is taking "an amazing opportunity" to work in Israel, and she is going also.

    Wednesday, night, Rotman said she will make sure that the public-financing program is handled properly through the November election and will also plan for the 2012 election and beyond. She said of her work since 2006 on the public-financing program, called the Citizens' Election Program, this way: "I am very proud to have worked with state leaders on key legislative and fiscal changes that enabled the successful operation of the Program for statewide and legislative elections."   

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    Yesterday, the Foley campaign said it contacted the Malloy camp several times regarding a debate schedule but never got a response.

    Today, Foley says Malloy also failed to respond to his request that both campaigns avoid negative campaign ads and refuse "special interest" money.

    "Dan is starting out his campaign on the wrong foot,'' Foley campaign manager Justin Clark said in a statement. "While middle class families in Connecticut struggle to make ends meet, he is using their taxpayer dollars to fund his campaign and to run negative ads the way he did against Ned Lamont...We hope he will either agree to do this or tell Connecticut why he won't.

    The squabble over campaign spending started when Democratic state Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo made a pitch to the Foley camp, asking it to limit spending to $3 million if Malloy did the same.

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    Malloy campaign spokesman Roy Occhiogrosso says he's more than willing to talk to the Foley campaign regarding its request to swear off negative ads.

     "Again they're claiming that they've been trying to get in touch with this campaign?'' Occhiogrosso said via email. "Are they doing it telepathically?  As I said yesterday, they can call Dan Kelly or me anytime.  Here's my cell: 860-490-1361.  And they make reference to ads that we're running...but we're not running any ads.  Maybe they're suffering aftershocks from the primary?"


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    Less than a third of eligible voters cast ballots in last week's primaries, according to figures compiled by the Secretary of the State's office.

    Broken down by party, 182,975 eligible Democrats -- 24.88 percent -- and 126,308 eligible Republicans -- 29.59 percent -- voted in their party's primaries.

    For a town-by-town break down, click here.

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    Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz says that she is working with the office of state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to make changes in response to his criticism two weeks ago of her office's controversial "constituent database" -- but she has not given specifics, such as whether she'll remove references to many citizens' race, ethnicity and religion.

    On Aug. 5, Blumenthal issued an investigative report saying that the Democratic secretary of the state's 36,000-name, taxpayer-funded database contained "inappropriate" personal and political information. The report said, among other things, that it is "not proper or appropriate" to list citizens in categories "based on religion, race and ethnicity."

    Since then, The Courant has been asking Bysiewicz and other officials in her office what changes or deletions they have made, or plan to make, in the database. The most recent answer came Thursday, when Bysiewicz issued a non-specific, written response: "We are working with the Attorney General's office to implement the recommendations contained in the report."

    The Courant on Aug. 12 requested a copy of the database on a disc as it existed that day, in order to see what changes had been made in the six months since the newspaper obtained an earlier disc of the database. "As of yet the disc you requested is not yet ready, but we will notify you when it is ready," Bysiewicz said Thursday.

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    Democrat Richard Blumenthal is psuhing back against Republican Linda McMahon's latest assault.

    His new ad, titled "Doesn't She Get It?" takes McMahon to task for her ad implying that he's in the pocket of special interest groups.

    "Dick Blumenthal will always stand up to the special interests,'' states the announcer, citing his legal action against big drug companies, Facebook and MySpace and his lawsuit against Big Tobacco.

    "He's always been looking out for the people of Connecticut,'' one person tells the camera, underscoring the Blumenthal's theme of standing up for the Everyman.




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    The president will travel to the state sometime next month, according to the White House. He will headline an event for the Democratic National Committee. No word on where the fundraiser will be.

    Obama came to Connecticut last October, when he attended a fundraiser for Sen. Chris Dodd.

    It turned out no amount of presidential help could pull the save the politically ailing Dodd and he called off his reelection bid three months later.

    Dodd's replacement on the ticket, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, has said he would welcome a visit from Obama. However, when asked, he quickly pointed out his independence from the White House, citing several issues (notably TARP and the stimulus) in which he disagreed with Obama's approach. 

    Of course, nothing brings in bucks like a visit from POTUS and Blumenthal is facing super-rich self-funder Linda McMahon (though the main beneficiary of the fundraiser may be the DNC, and not Blumenthal specifically.)

    Obama could also be coming to help shore up support for Democrats in the state's Congressional delegation.

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    The success of several high-profile candidates opposed to legalized abortion has galvanized activists on both sides of the debate.

    Today, the NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut PAC announced its endorsements. It's backing all Democrats: gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy and his running mate Nancy Wyman, George Jepsen, who is running for attorney general, Denise Merrill, a candidate for secretary of the state, state treasurer Denise Nappier and Kevin Lembo, a candidate for state comptroller.

    "The Malloy/Wyman ticket will work proactively to ensure that all of Connecticut's women have greater access to reproductive health services and the information they need and deserve,'' Cari Pierdes, chairman of the PAC, said in a press release.

    Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley identifies himself as "pro-choice," though he did not seek the NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut endorsement, according to the group.

    "I'm for a woman's right to chose,'' Foley said during a brief interview last week. "I've been clear abotu that from the beginning of my campaign."

    His new running mate, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, is opposed to abortion rights, but Foley said their differing stances won't be an issue.

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  • 08/23/10--18:36: Ballot initiative redux
  • Activists pressing for ballot initiative in Connecticut didn't prevail when the idea was put on the ballot in 2008. But they are now forging ahead with a new chapter in their campaign.

    Connecticut Citizens for Ballot Initiative is kicking off its renewed effort with a press conference at the Capitol on Wednesday. The group plans to release the results of a poll showing how state residents view the idea.

    Ballot initiative would provide a mechanism to allow citizens to force a vote on matters of public policy. Proponents say the movement say it is non-partisan; in 2008, the the idea drew support from a swath of activists across the ideological spectrum, ranging from the Green Party to the Family Institute of Connecticut and the Catholic Church. Opposing the idea was an equally broad coalition of groups, including state employee unions, gay rights groups and the American Civil Liberties Union.

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  • 08/23/10--19:34: Blumenthal's days
  • Using the state's Freedom of Information Act, Linda McMahon's campaign has requested copies of Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's daily calendar. If last month's entries are typical, the datebook isn't exactly crammed with events.

    In fact, most dates have just one event listed -- and several pages are completely blank. The remainder of the entries involve public events, interviews and the like.

    A sampling:
    Wed., July 14 11:45 a.m.--Interview here w\Fox 61 re: Craigslist
    Thur., July 15 5-8 p.m.--St. Francis Hospital Cancer Center FR @ home of Mark and Barbara Gordon
    Sat., July 17 11 a.m.---St. Vincent's Park City Regatta 2010 at Fayerweather Yacht Club
    11 a.m.--Deep River Ancient Muster Parade

    The less-than demanding public schedule would appear to undercut Blumenthal's image as the activist public servant who spends every waking moment fighting for truth and justice.

    But Tara Downes, spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, said his calendar "typically has never included any of his daily internal staff meetings or other activities in the office. His calendar generally has recorded invitations, meetings or events involving the general public and others, whether or not he actually attended the events.


    "Because many public events may be perceived as political, few -- if any -- are now included on his office schedule."

    And, Downes said, "Nothing has changed about Dick's commitment to fighting for Connecticut consumers and taxpayers."

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  • 08/26/10--10:13: Time Out For Burning Man
  • Rare is the political aspirant who touts his attendance at an event that has been called "the greatest party on Earth."

    But Thursday, John Mertens of West Hartford did just that.

    The campaign of the Trinity College engineering professor, who is running for U.S. Senate as a Connecticut for Lieberman party member, issued a press release announcing that he will, for the sixth time, travel to Burning Man, an annual freewheeling festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert famous for its participants' lack of inhibition.

    Mertens, who grew up on a farm in northern California and has a Ph.D. from Stanford, plans to attend next week with his 22-year-old son, Paul.

    Sounds like fun. But a press release from your campaign?

    Kind of an odd publicity stunt from an earnest candidate who advocates for election campaigns that are about "ideas and solutions to problems" and laments the circus atmosphere of modern politics -- right?

    "I disagree," said Mertens, 47, who admits he's "a long shot to win" a Senate seat. The disclosure about his vacation plans helps him live up to a campaign promise, he said.

    "I said this is going to be the most transparent and inclusive campaign in history," he said in an interview. "Everybody's going to know where I am. ... I'm being completely honest about who I am and what I do. It's the exact opposite of a circus, the exact opposite of the deception and lack of content that you get from major-party candidates."

    Besides, Burning Man isn't just a party for nearly 50,000 people, he said. You can learn something there. "It's also an experiment in government," he said. "When it first started

    , there were no rules. The first rule was, don't hurt anybody else."

    Over time, more and more rules have been adopted as the regulars and those who have followed them decided how to govern their temporary society.

    "It's been really interesting to watch," said the professor and father of four.

    Mertens has run into many fascinating characters in the desert, he said. Just not too many politicians: "I think it's probably safe to say I'll be the only candidate for U.S. Senate in the country at Burning Man."


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    Our colleague, Hartford Courant columnist Rick Green, weighs in on the U.S. Senate race between Republican Linda McMahon and Democrat Dick Blumenthal.

    It's not even Labor Day yet, but the campaign is heating up with McMahon bashing Blumenthal in direct mail and with both candidates filling the airwaves with television commercials.

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    For all of you who have been out on vacation in the post-primary days of August, welcome back.

    With a 25 percent turnout in the Democratic primary on August 10 and a 30 percent turnout in the Republican contests, plenty of people were either at the beach or out of town. That number definitely increased after the primaries as the campaign workers for the many losing candidates - and the winners, too - blew out of town for some rest.

    Be assured that we will be keeping an eye on the campaigns as we head toward the general election on Tuesday, November 2.

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