OP-ED | Reckless Predictions for 2018
It’s going to be another wild one, what with an open-seat governor’s race, the ongoing scary-clown circus of Washington, a sure-to-be contentious legislative session, even more financial free-fall, and and the midterm elections all coming up. You’re ready, right?
Well, I’m ready. And to prove it, here are some of the ways I think it’s all going to turn out.
First, don’t expect the legislature to deal with our ongoing fiscal nightmare in any meaningful way. The short session will be notable for the Band-Aids it applies to the bursting dam of the budget, declining revenue projections, and loud posturing. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will become less and less relevant as the year drags on and his term nears its close.
The, uh, “issues” at the federal level will start spiraling down to the states. Expect people to be even angrier about taxes and health care.
How about elections? As I’m writing this, a walking lesson in the failure of Bridgeport voters to learn anything has officially declared he’ll be running for governor. Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, if you missed it, was sent to the slammer for bribery and corruption during his original stint as mayor of Bridgeport, after which the voters of that fine city decided to send him back to city hall.
Are Connecticut voters just as gullible? Oh, probably. I can’t wait to find out.
The rest of the Democratic field isn’t inspiring. Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, still recovering from a campaign finance scandal, is pushing hard to be the standard-bearer for the party’s activist left wing. So far he’s embraced legalizing marijuana, single-payer health care, and being really angry about Donald Trump. Voters on the left wanted Kevin Lembo or Chris Mattei. After both of them dropped out Drew appeared with a bouquet of organic flowers, begging the left to settle for him instead. Romance is in the air.
Who else is running? Former state senator Jonathan Harris? 2006 hero Ned Lamont? The only Democratic candidate I actually like is former state party vice-chair and portfolio manager/trader Dita Bhargava, who understands how vulnerable over-reliance on taxing the 1% has made us. I’d like to see her get more experience in politics first, however; may I suggest running for state treasurer instead?
On the Republican side, there are a couple of Tom Foley clones, meaning very wealthy businessmen who think running a hedge fund is pretty much the same as being governor. You’d have thought Trump would have taught Republicans a lesson about this.
Who else? Attorney and 2014 leftover Peter Lumaj, former U.S. Comptroller Dave Walker, Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst, Rep. Prasad Srinivasan, R-Glastonbury, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton…
Whenever I look at the GOP field I fall asleep. Wake me if House Minority Leader Themis Klarides enters the race.
That said, I could see Boughton coming out of the convention and primary on top. He’s been there before, he’s a known quantity, and he’s the safe choice. He doesn’t excite the Republican base, but does anyone? Joe Visconti is running, but aside from him is there really a standard-bearer for the red meat, ultranationalist, hard-right Trump supporter wing of the party? A dark horse is still very possible.
My reckless prediction? Drew and Boughton emerge from the primaries. Independent Oz Griebel does well but the universe shrugs and Boughton wins. Nobody is happy about it.
As for other statewide offices, both the attorney general and state treasurer will be new faces next year. I’d be surprised if the Democrats lose either one, but public anger at the Dems may spread, so who knows? I’m guessing Mattei will be the next attorney general, and the next treasurer will be a Democrat you’ve never heard of.
How about races for the U.S. House and Senate? Democratic sweep, again. Don’t even bother.
But control of the state legislature, that’s where it gets interesting. Which will be the stronger factor, anger at state Democrats for messing everything in the state up, or anger at Trump and national Republicans for messing everything else up? I predict an agonizing election cycle for Republicans.
My reckless prediction? Republicans win the senate outright, and come within a hair of winning the house. They spend the next two years blaming Trump for not getting everything until Dems recapture the chamber in 2020.
Those are my sure-to-fail predictions. We’ll all have a good laugh at them next year, when Joe Visconti is governor.
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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