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OP-ED | 6 Things To Watch For On Primary Night

by Susan Bigelow | Aug 8, 2014 11:00am
(8) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Analysis, Election 2014, Opinion

Chances are that you’re probably not going to be among the hardy souls voting in Tuesday’s primaries. It’s still going to be an interesting election night. Here are six things to keep tabs on:

How Big Is Tom Foley’s Win?

Let’s be honest, everyone expects Tom Foley to crush John McKinney in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Anyone who is familiar with the GOP base’s dislike of McKinney, who struggled to get the 15 percent of delegates required to make it onto the ballot at the Republican convention in May, came to that conclusion a long time ago.

But late summer primaries are strange critters, and you just never know who will actually show up for them. No one’s done any polling, so without access to the campaigns’ internal polls no one has much of an idea what this race really looks like. It might be a huge blowout — but it might not be, either.

A closer-than-expected race isn’t impossible. McKinney’s helped himself out lately by running a strong closing campaign and picking up plenty of newspaper endorsements, while Foley’s campaign seemed to be taking on water. For instance, Foley recently made headlines with a cringe-inducing run-in with workers and the First Selectwoman of Sprague outside a closing factory there. McKinney made that encounter into a devastating ad.

Despite this, McKinney will almost surely still lose. He’s just too unpopular with the sorts of people who vote in Republican primaries. But what if it’s only by about 10 percent instead of 30 percent? What if the result is in doubt, even for a moment? The margins, not the win, would be the story then. That could be a very worrisome sign of weakness for the Foley campaign as they prepare to face Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in the fall.

Which Lt. Gov Candidate Wins in the West?

The other major statewide primary happening Tuesday is the three-way Republican race for lieutenant governor between state Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, former U.S. Comptroller David Walker, and former Groton Mayor Heather Bond Somers. That race, like any statewide Republican primary, will be decided in Fairfield County, as well as pieces of New Haven and Litchfield Counties. That’s where Republican voters tend to live, either on the southwestern coast or, increasingly, in the interior western third of the state. Watch towns like Greenwich, Brookfield, Waterbury, New Milford, and Darien to get a sense of where the night might go.

This contest, unlike Foley vs. McKinney, is entirely up in the air. It’s been close-fought and nasty, and there’s no clear favorite. Bacchiochi had a strong win at the convention, but since primary voters and convention delegates often live in different worlds, that may not mean anything. My guess? Walker.

How Does Ernie Newton Do In Bridgeport?

The most compelling stories of the night may unfold in Bridgeport. Ernie Newton was an outspoken, flamboyant state senator from Bridgeport before going to prison on bribery charges. But now he’s back, and running for a seat in the House of Representatives. He tried this in 2012 and came up short, but this is definitely a race to watch. Bridgeport has a couple of other races where incumbents may lose their seats, as well.

Can Sen. Eric Coleman Survive a Tough Challenge?

The state senate primary in Hartford, Windsor, and Bloomfield between incumbent Sen. Eric Coleman and challengers Shawn Wooden and Lenworth Walker is interesting not only because a longtime incumbent has a strong opponent in Wooden, who is Hartford’s city council president, but because Coleman has put his opposition to the Rock Cats stadium proposal front and center. The stadium issue may be less important here, though, than the potential handoff of power from one generation to the next. The Hartford Courant made just that point when it endorsed Wooden.

Where is Dan Malloy?

Gov. Malloy has been busy on previous primary nights. Will he show up to anyone’s victory party? Will he be seen at all, or will he let whoever wins the GOP primaries have the night to themselves? I kind of doubt the latter.

Can Turnout Break 20 Percent?

This is the big wild card. Turnout for the 2006 U.S. Senate election between Ned Lamont and Sen. Joe Lieberman reached a whopping 43 percent, which is amazing for a late summer primary. This isn’t going to get that high. It’s often the case that the smaller the crowd, the weirder the results of the election are likely to be. Dragging voters off the beach and to the polls is going to be critical for each and every campaign.

Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.

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(8) Comments

posted by: art vandelay | August 8, 2014  2:05pm

art vandelay

Susan,
I’m one of those “sorts of people who vote in Republican Primaries”.  I’m NOT casting my vote for Foley.  I don’t think he has the charisma, debating skills, and platform necessary to challenge Malloy.  Yes I’ll hold my nose and vote for McKinney.  I’m not thrilled with his campaign, but I think he has a better chance of beating Malloy in the general election.  If Foley wins the primary, the Republicans only hope of capturing the governor’s seat in November is a strong third party campaign by Pelto.  I’m hoping Pelto takes enough votes from Malloy to secure a Republican victory.

posted by: Nutmeg87 | August 8, 2014  3:41pm

Art
Foley lost to Malloy by slimmest of margins still on Obama coat tails…  GOP base will be out strong in Nov because of the Gun Bill and Taxes…

Foley has same contest as last election; however, the Democratic wind has subsided…  Its an off year and Malloy wont get the youngsters & Obama votes like last time…  Theres enough anti-Malloy sentiment that if Pelto sign-ins wont take it away from him, the GOP base + the general apathy of most disinterested voters absent sure will shut Malloy out…

posted by: NoNonsense2014 | August 8, 2014  5:56pm

I also am one of those “hardy souls” who will be voting on Tuesday. I will be voting for McKinney because I know he knows what’s going on, not because I agree with him on every single issue. Foley is a mealy-mouthed loser who had four years to study up on the issues, but he’s just as clueless today as he was four years ago. If Foley’s the nominee, Malloy will win again.

posted by: art vandelay | August 8, 2014  10:38pm

art vandelay

@Nutmeg87,
I hope you’re correct.  It wasn’t Obama’s coattails that pulled Malloy over the top in 2010.  It was extra hour surge of balloting in Bridgeport by Suzie B that put Malloy over the top once the Democrats realized they might just loose the election at the last minute.  Be it Foley or McKinney in the Governor’s chair, they are going to have a rough go due to the fact that the Legislature will be in the hands of the Democrats.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | August 8, 2014  11:37pm

DrHunterSThompson

If foley wins we can be certain of one thing, republicans haven’t been paying attention and could care less about the issues. The cardboard figure hasn’t so much as whispered a policy thought on anything.

HST

posted by: shinningstars122 | August 9, 2014  12:09pm

shinningstars122

It is good to see that McKinney is up 2 to 1 on this post.

@Nutmeg87 you MUST work for the Foley campaign with that over simplistic analogy of the last election.

I think it will be much closer on Tuesday due to your description of ” the general apathy of most disinterested voters absent” which does include plenty of Republicans in our state.

To hedge all your bets on the passing the gun bill further fuels you delusion of the state’s electorate.

Just because some cry the loudest does not mean, when all the final votes are counted,  that they actually spoke for the entire electorate.

Why is Foley a B-minus rating from the NRA plus on FTS just over two weeks ago he said he would not repeal the bill.

As for Foley’s last campaign…he spent $10.8 million of his own money and was riding on the “successes” of Jodi Rell plus you had the national effort by the “teaparty” fueled once again by millionaires and billionaires grabbing up plenty of TV advertising.

Malloy did take Foley for granted and will have to campaign much harder all over the state and engage him on all fronts to win re-election.

Which after that Sprague debacle won’t take much.

Plus the Democratic base will be out in full force nationwide to prevent the Senate from swinging to the GOP and setting up a complete 2016 GOP take over of both branches of our government.

posted by: GuilfordResident | August 11, 2014  11:11am

I’ll vote Foley only b/c McKinney voted for SB1160.

posted by: ... | August 11, 2014  5:35pm

...

I cannot vote in the primary, but I do hope McKinney wins it. Foley has no passion for his politics and it comes out in his inability to name specifics on the biggest issues that face this state.

And regardless of who wins, if both write-in candidates get on the ballot, it’s going to take some wind out of both sides.

Both Visconti and Pelto nullify the critiques made by McKinney or Foley on Common CORE, making it a non-partisan issue except for Malloy (who will be slammed most for being in charge while it was implemented).

The second is the commonly named ‘gun bill’. Visconti is pulling out the teeth of either Republican to win this primary regarding that issue. More so McKinney, but Foley has said he wouldn’t do much to change and won’t name what he dislikes about it.

The minimum needed to get on the ballot is stronger than the margin of victory for Malloy in 2010. And he’s not going to lose many, if any votes from that segment of the population already.

Finally, there is the change in the general elections that allow same-day voter registration and the constitutional vote to eliminate restrictions on early voting. Both of these measures are strongly Democratic and beneficial to youth voters (who are also largely Democratic voters). If anyone thinks the youth vote is going to be dramatically weaker in 2014 than it was in 2010 is fooling themselves. It might be less, but not by much.