This has been a hectic week in Connecticut politics. Let’s recap:
The gubernatorial race became a lot clearer as Richard Blumenthal official withdrew (though there was speculation later in the week that he might have Joe Lieberman in his sights instead–which means that instead of ducking questions about the governor’s race, he can now duck them about 2012 instead), and both Dan Malloy and Susan Bysiewicz officially started up exploratory committees. Former Speaker Jim Amann has been exploring a run for a while now, and will officially announce his campaign next week.
Bysiewicz will be appearing on Face the State on WFSB this Sunday, to explain why she is the best Democrat in the running for governor, and why Jodi Rell deserves blame for the financial mess. Should be a good one!
Speaking of Rell, a lot of people, myself included, think that the budget speech was the opening salvo in her 2010 re-election campaign.
The governor unveiled her budget this week, and it’s created quite a stir! Under her plan, taxes would not go up (though fines and fees would), many agencies would be folded into other agencies, permanent commissions would disappear, and other positions would be cut. It would be the most dramatic remaking of state government in memory. Republicans and business leaders are pleased; Democrats, labor and social service agencies and nonprofits are not.
In advance of the governor’s budget speech, she gave an address live on TV Monday night.
Commenters at CTLP chatted with the Lt. Governor yesterday about the budget. Hopefully more conversations with state leaders are forthcoming–not just here, but everywhere.
UPDATE: Gov. Rell is also appearing on Face the State this Sunday to discuss the budget and what the state should expect to see over the coming months. She will also be sharing her thoughts on re-election in 2010.
Sen. Chris Dodd finally released his mortgage documents, in an attempt to quiet the growing criticism he’s been facing over the scandal. It may have worked, for now, but a lot of damage has already been done. Dodd is touring the state talking to people about health care, the second of his forums is tomorrow at WCSU in Danbury. College Republicans are planning a protest. In short, I don’t think Dodd is out of the woods yet, though he’s in better shape than he was last week.
Eddie Perez’s troubles continue. Perez was arrested last week on bribery charges, and pleaded not guilty on Tuesday. The contractor who worked on Perez’s house, and stated that he expected not to be paid, also pleaded not guilty today. The Hartford city council’s attempt to remove the council president, a Perez ally, came to nothing. Perez will likely fight on for a long time to come.
So what should we expect over the next few weeks? Budget negotiations will likely begin, though the first point of contention will be whether the deficit will be $6 billion, as the governor said, or $8 billion, as several news outlets and even a newsletter from Chris Healy suggested. Until that gets sorted, don’t expect much in the way of useful negotiations to take place. Lots of groups on both sides are ramping up campaigns to influence the final outcome.
Jim Amann will formally announce his campaign, and we should expect him to tout his own economic record as loudly as possible. There are certain advantages to being first, namely that he’ll get lots of attention. However, he’ll have to find other ways to make news after this.
We may start seeing Democrats interested in being Secretary of the State start to emerge over the next month, though they may wait for an official gubernatorial announcement from Bysiewicz. In 2005, a pack of Democrats was stopped in their tracks by the SOTS dropping out of the governor’s race.
Apart from that? Your guess is as good as mine.