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Money Talks In 5th Assembly District; McGee Defeats Canty By 153 Votes

by Christine Stuart | Oct 2, 2012 10:35pm
(12) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Election 2012, Town News, Hartford, Windsor

Christine Stuart photo

Brandon McGee thanks his supporters

Brandon McGee supporters believe it was their hard work that elevated their candidate to victory in the court-ordered revote of the 5th Assembly District. But Leo Canty’s supporters believe it was the infusion of nearly $42,000 during the last few days of the campaign from an out-of-state special interest group affiliated with the controversial school-reform advocate Michelle Rhee.

McGee received 1,095 votes Tuesday to Canty’s 942, according to unofficial results from Hartford and Windsor.

As he gave his victory speech from a empty store front on the corner of Main Street and Tower Avenue in Hartford’s North End, McGee cautioned his supporters that this was just the Democratic primary and they still had a long way to go before Nov. 6.

“I’m doing this because I want to see a better community. I want people to say I was a trailblazer at a very young age,” McGee, 28, told his supporters.

McGee warned the group not to “stick their chest out to the other folks. Embrace. Bring people together.”

As he looked around the room at his family and friends, many from his church, he bristled at the notion that the money from the Greater New England Public School Alliance, a group affiliated with StudentsFirst and Rhee, had any influence on his campaign efforts or the victory.

“Look I wish I had the money,” McGee joked. “Because some of you would be paid today.”

After the court-ordered revote in the tied Democratic primary, McGee said everybody started calling him and asking how they could help, offering to volunteer whatever time they had.

He said Tuesday’s revote proved that “every election matters and every vote counts.”


Down the street at Windsor’s Union Street Tavern, Canty — who fought hard to get the new 5th Assembly District drawn so that Windsor residents could be represented in the General Assembly by one of their own — said it was the last-minute cash that cost him the primary.

Canty, a longtime political activist and labor leader, said he was optimistic about his chances earlier in the day, but he knew he faced an uphill battle.

“They’re a very wealthy organization that can drop $38,000 like you or I would put a quarter in a gumball machine,” Canty, the vice president of a teachers union, said.

He said the effort of the GNEPSA canvassers made a difference in a race he lost by about 153 votes.

“Brandon picked up a handful of votes in District 1 and District 3 where there was a high amount of that canvassing activity,” Canty said.

Maria Alphonso, a friend who was poll-standing with Canty, said she believes “the money drowned out people’s voices.”

But at McGee headquarters, supporters said they didn’t see any of the canvassers from the group affiliated with StudentsFirst, an organization run by Rhee, the controversial former chancellor of the Washington, D.C. school system.

Marc Dibella, chairman of the Hartford Democratic Town Committee, said “that’s not the reason he won this race.”

Hartford City Councilman Shawn Wooden agreed.

“I haven’t met a person who knows where any of that money went,” he said.

State Rep. Matt Ritter of Hartford said he doesn’t know about the money, and that all he knows is that people were excited to get out and vote.

This was McGee’s first run for public office and it couldn’t have been a more eventful experience.

The two candidates ended the Aug. 14 primary in a tie, then Canty was up one vote after the first recount, but McGee filed a lawsuit and the court ordered a second recount, bringing the two back to a tie. The drama of the race continued in court when the judge decided to unseal a ballot from a voter previously thought to be dead. The ballot turned out to have been cast for the third candidate in the race and didn’t break the tie, forcing the judge to order the Oct. 2 revote.

Both sides agreed that it’s not often voters get a second chance.

Canty called McGee to congratulate him and said he would support him in the race against Windsor Republican Paul Panos on Nov. 6.

Canty thought he had secured the Working Families Party ballot line. But the party, which backs progressive, pro-labor candidates, didn’t collect enough signatures to get his name on the ballot.

Earlier in the primary Canty did receive $1,500 from AFT-CT his union for the race. Both Canty and McGee participated in the public campaign finance program where they raised donations under $100 in order to receive a $28,000 state grant.

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(12) Comments

posted by: eastrivertype | October 3, 2012  9:19am

So Leo is OK taking money from AFT but the money from StudentsFirst is not OK.  So his special interest is OK but the other side is not.  This is a big loss for the unions.  Leo would have been just as in the tank with the unions as Edith Prague was.

posted by: stellathecat | October 3, 2012  10:01am

I wouldn’t classify this as a big loss for the unions who were marginaly involved.. But it was a setback for many residents of Windsor who would like to have a voice in the State Leg.But you can’t complain if you don’t vote

posted by: kenneth_krayeske | October 3, 2012  10:05am

ISn’t there a problem if this organization drops $38,000 into an election and no one knows how it spent the money? Or is it disingenuous politicians claiming ignorance of the impact of such a large influx of cash? Someone has to know where the money went. I feel like this interference from outside groups prevented this from being a clean election. There was outside influence, and the perception there is that Mr. McGee is going to have a quid pro quo to carry Michelle Rhee’s water in the legislature. It will be a good day when Mr. McGee admonishes the organization that poured these dollars into his victory, and he repudiates this kind of payola.

posted by: rankandfile | October 3, 2012  10:21am

State employees on the losing end of the SEBAC “revote” see this as karma. We lost on a revote he helped force on us, and now he loses a “revote”. Sweet!

posted by: Not that Michael Brown | October 3, 2012  10:38am

The AFT has an interest in CT.  What is the interest of the GNEPSA, aside from destroying the teachers’ union.

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | October 3, 2012  3:21pm

GoatBoyPHD

Romney was calling for the ouster of the Leo Canty’s last week.

http://tinyurl.com/8lk3dzz

When the teachers unions are lobbying against Federal aid to CT (As they did under Race to the Top costing the state over $200 million dollars) its time to send them to the glue factory.

There’s a time I’d support the Leo Canty’s before union fascism became their sole purpose for living.

posted by: Concerned Citizen | October 3, 2012  11:54pm

Mr. Canty:
I am pleased to hear you say you are now going to work with Mr. McGee to defeat Paul Panos.  That is what the district needs.  Regardless of who canvassed whom, the primary is over and the result is in the best interest of the district.

Kenneth Krayeske wrote: “I feel like this interference from outside groups prevented this from being a clean election. There was outside influence, and the perception there is that Mr. McGee is going to have a quid pro quo to carry Michelle Rhee’s water in the legislature. It will be a good day when Mr. McGee admonishes the organization that poured these dollars into his victory, and he repudiates this kind of payola.” Clearly, Mr. Krayeske, you are on someone’s payroll!  Why else would you write this kind of insulting, idiotic drivel?

posted by: ACR | October 4, 2012  12:57am

ACR

>>Clearly, Mr. Krayeske, you are on someone’s payroll!  Why else would you write this kind of insulting, idiotic drivel?

Because that’s what he does!

posted by: Christine Stuart | October 4, 2012  7:57am

Christine Stuart

Concerned Citizen and ACR,
I think you should be less concerned about certain people and more concerned about the issues. I reserve the right to spike any comments which are personal attacks on other commenters. Please debate the issue.
Christine

posted by: RE-Windsor, CT | October 5, 2012  12:28pm

It should be remembered that in education the unions are not supporters of the students, it is not there job.  If it was they would be working to weed out the bad teachers, demand the instant termination of those caught acting improperly, and finding ways to improve schools without costing the tax payers any more money.

In fairness the AFT and CEA are going to support candidates that will help foment the causes they have which are related to financial benefits to them and their members.  To believe otherwise is not truthful.  Ms. Rhee and GNESPA are fomenting for parental choice.  Allowing parents whose schools are failing their kids to have a choice!  Education is not a “do-over” business.  You can’t say to Mrs. Smith; “I am sorry Wendy is not able to reading at a 2nd grade level as she enters 6th grade, so Mrs. Smith we are going to do over her education and send her back to 2nd grade so we can start over.”  Parent must be given an opportunity for choice.  It benefits society and it benefits every student.  I commented on this in this article:  “Is Michelle Rhee Trying To Buy A Seat In The 5th?” http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/is_michelle_rhee_trying_to_buy_a_seat_in_the_5th/

It should be noted that Windsor Residents do have a Windsor choice in November, it is Windsor resident Paul Panos.  I find it interesting that certain parties wanted a Windsor resident for this seat.  IF you do you have a choice.  Mr. McGee from Hartford or Paul Panos from Windsor.

@Kenneth, I am just making sure.  The AFT supporting Canty is OK, and GNESPA backing McGee is not OK.  Just want to make sure I understand your double standard.

posted by: Uncommon_sense | October 5, 2012  4:39pm

I’m glad other people realize and comment on the double standard here.  I’d say it’s a problem when an organization such as a union in a closed shop (education) spends its members’ money (which is by law taken from their salary, paid for by taxpayers) to help elect candidates that those members don’t necessarily support.  At least the funds which helped elect McGee were freely given from those who earned the money…..

posted by: Linda12 | October 5, 2012  8:36pm

Re windsor ...leaving a note for you here too…by the way…we are always teaching and you used the wrong there…you mean their job…

Also, reposting here….you are misinformed on the main purpose of the Rheeject.

To misinformed in windsor…you are in for a big shock…do you what to know where all the money is going? Not to students and not to the front line workers….testing, testing, testing, consultants, educrats, tech support for grading the tests, common core crap, data management systems, bloated administrators including the SDE, coaches, etc.. 

Ever notice how there is no money for the “failing” city schools but then millions pour in once it becomes a charter. Wake up and stop blaming the teachers. This is the Race to the Trough and your tax money is being pilfered by Philanthropimps and self- appointed know nothing eduvultures.  Keep blaming the teachers because that is what they want you to believe while they stab us in the back and slither away with your money.

You won’t have any more stuff or be any happier once you destroy our profession, steal our dignity and ruin the middle class. 

Hope you feel better!