What's next?

First off, let me apologize if this write-up isn't polished. I've been dealing with a terrible illness in my family and I haven't had any productive time to express my thoughts regarding the primary into words. If this post rambles a bit, my apologies...trust me, you would be off your game also if you were in my shoes right now. I'll clean up this post throughout the day, I just felt that it was important to get my thoughts out there as soon as possible. -ctblogger.

I have to admit, I had a good chuckle reading the Monday night quarterbacking by the so-called analysis regarding last night's primary in the 5th CD.

I'm going to make this short and to the point.

From one reporter's laughable claim that labor is no longer a factor in campaigns (funny how they were so important in Gov. Malloy's victory just two years ago) and a columnist claiming that the state party is to blame for Donovon's loss, to people claiming that last nights victory was a resounding defeat for progressive principles, it seems like most people are missing the big picture.

Elizabeth Esty win had less to do with Elizabeth Esty campaign for Congress and had more to do with the fact that she wasn't Chris Donovan (plus his baggage).

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the scandal the engulfed Donovan's campaign (and some argue his refusal to be more forthcoming in terms of answering lingering questions regarding elements of the investigation) all but torpedoed his candidacy.

Lets be honest, before the FBI investigation, both Esty and Dan Roberti were nothing more than blips on the screen; two candidates who should be blessed that they were able to "persuade" enough convention delegates switched their votes in order for them to get spot on the ballot. If anyone believes that one term State Rep with abre bones voting record would had won the primary if the FBI investigation that snagged Donovan's campaign never occurred, then you're simply being delusional.

Regardless of the spin from Esty's camp, it's clear to most people in the know that Donovan's troubles sealed his defeat and Esty made wisely took advantage of the former House Speaker's troubles with a barrage of mailers and statements that highlighted the FBI investigation.

...and the constant headlines regarding the scandal Donovan endured didn't help things for him also.

Pat Scully nailed it when he said...

In the end, the dark cloud of federal investigations spelled doom for two candidates seeking their party's nomination for hotly contested offices. In Connecticut's 5th congressional district, state Speaker of the House Chris Donovan's campaign crashed and burned after months of news coverage about alleged wrongdoing in his campaign fundraising and alleged legislation fixing (Donovan is not charged or accused).

In short, Chris Donovan lost because of Chris Donovan. Some would argue that his fall from grace started when he refused to relinquish control of the House as Speaker. Others will argue that, at best, Donovan demonstrated poor management as top people in his camp allegedly took money in exchange to torpedo a bill. There are others who could also argue that Donovan's handling of the scandal was ill-advised. One thing is for certain, in a state that has seen it's fair share of political scandals, voters get REAL turned off if there is even a hint of political corruption. Realists would consider Esty "underdog" victory as more a win by default because in simple terms, in the minds of voters, the so-called front-runner had egg on his face.

That being said, with the primary in our rear view mirror, what should be a real concern on the minds of Democrats in the 5th district is how will the party move forward and win in November. Here's my answer: Based on what I've seen and read from Donovan and Esty supporters, I haven't a fucking clue.

The back and forth between the two candidates was ugly to say the least. Although I tried to stay neutral, even I jumped ship (and admittedly at time off the deep end) once Esty's camp gave Emily's List and supporters the green light to attack the the Democratic state budget. The smearing of progressives and activists who fought to protect services from receiving the chopping block left a real bitter taste in my mouth and the mouths of progressives who stood by Donovan....and the same bloc of supporters Esty will need in order to have a chance against Andrew Roraback.

Bigelow nailed it (complete with maps!)

Esty's challenge will be to win over Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents in the cities after a nasty primary, and to make sure the coalition of voters that elected U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy in three successive elections stays together elsewhere.

And there lies Esty's problem: attracting progressive supporters and organizations (a.k.a. the people who played a key part in Murphy's victories) to get past the mudslinging during the primary on board her bandwagon and work for the common good of the Democratic Party.

From his victory in 2006, and re-election victories in 2008 and 2010 Chris Murphy knew that the a main contributor to his victories were due to his strong popularity among progressives, labor groups, as well as moderates. These are KEY groups that Esty will desperately need if she is to have a remote shot in defeating Roraback. Given that Donovan didn't mention her name in his concession speech and hasn't withdrawn his name from the Working Families Party line, if Democrats are to have a shot in winning against a Nancy Johnson-like moderate Republican who will EASILY appeal to independents, Esty better start reaching out and making peace ASAP.

Remember, were now in the general election mode, the arguments made during the primary no longer apply...or will be as effective. For instance, let me put on my GOP hat show you how the far right will possibly go after Esty.

GOP: Esty is a tax and spend liberal who can't be trusted.

Esty: I fought against my party's leadership and called for fiscal responsibility.

GOP: Esty said she voted against Donovan's budget when in fact she VOTED IN FAVOR of Donovan's budget that became law...Esty is a tax and spend liberal who can't be trusted.

Esty: "but..."

GOP: Esty also voted to for tax and spend Donovan as Speaker of the House!

Esty: "but..."

GOP: Esty didn't see a tax increase she didn't like...she even voted in favor of higher taxes on hotels!

Esty: "but..."


That's just a VERY small glimpse in what Esty should expect as she attempts to persuade independents...while having to worry about something I heard one too many times over the last couple of weeks: elements of the Democratic base possibly deciding to sit the general election out and look towards 2014 (paging Mary Glassman).

As I said last night, for the sake of keeping the 5th District blue, I hope Esty and Donovan can act like grown ups, put their primary mud slinging behind them, get their supporters to work for the common good...or else we'll be saying Congressman Roraback in November.

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