Speaker Jim Amann formed his exploratory committee to run for governor yesterday in Milford–but not everyone was happy about it.
To the more than 200 supporters, including a large contingent of Democratic state legislators who packed City Hall to the balcony, he said “Let’s have fun and shake things up a little. We’ll begin the journey tonight. I have further to go and much more to give.”
Not everyone greeted the start of Amann’s gubernatorial bid with cheers. Several protesters outside City Hall handed out “Crush Amann” buttons while a hearse with a sign on it that read “Amann 2010 D.O.A.” was parked across the street. (Juliano)
So let’s think seriously about Amann’s bid for governor for a moment, and whether or not he has much of a chance here.
First, he’ll have at least two, maybe three, terms as Speaker under his belt before the election comes around. On the plus side, that gives him a way to oppose the governor and present his own plans–as legislation–while also performing his official duties. I have to imagine that a lot of news stories in the next few years will include the phrase “Speaker Amann, who is also running for governor,” or something similar. That’s a plus, it’s constant publicity for his campaign. The downside is that he’s tied to the legislature, and if they’re unpopular or seen as not doing much, he’ll be in a bit more trouble. Another downside is that for the past three years Gov. Rell has delighted in making the Speaker of the House look like an idiot. And there’s another thing: Amann has this tendency to open his mouth without thinking, which provides his enemies with hours of entertainment.
Second, a lot of Democrats seem to have strong feelings about Amann. See the illustration to the right to see what I mean: there are people who are willing to rent a hearse and manufacture buttons so they can spoil the formation of his exploratory committee. The anger comes from a lot of places, not just his support for Joe Lieberman. For instance, there are people who are annoyed that he’s had a supermajority for the last year and has done almost nothing with it. He would face a tough nomination fight, I think.
Another factor is that Amann is a fundraiser by trade, and can probably collect a significant amount of money to jump-start his bid before public financing kicks in. The downside to that is that he’s been scolded by pundits and others who care about ethics for allegedly abusing his position to raise money for his other job.
A third factor is name recognition. Not many people are going to know who he is, despite the fact that he’s Speaker. Quick! Ask any of your friends who don’t follow politics that much (if, you know, you have friends like that) who the Speaker of the House in Connecticut is. I bet they won’t know. That hurt Dan Malloy and John DeStefano, and it will hurt Amann in the early going.
After it’s all said and done, though, the crucial questions remain: Why should Jim Amann be governor instead of, say, Jodi Rell, Richard Blumenthal, Dan Malloy or any of the other candidates who may or may not be in the running two years from now? And would he make a good governor if elected?
Juliano, Frank. “Amann officially wants to be governor.” Connecticut Post 1 February, 2008.