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Pelto: ’We Just Dropped The Ball’

by Hugh McQuaid | Aug 25, 2014 12:02pm
(17) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Election 2014

Christine Stuart file photo

Jonathan Pelto

After months of speculation that he could spoil Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s re-election chances, Jonathan Pelto seems poised to exit the gubernatorial race without enough signatures to appear on the November ballot.

Pelto signalled to supporters over the weekend that he had likely failed to submit the 7,500 signatures necessary to petition onto the ballot. The liberal former lawmaker had publicly considered a lawsuit to challenge the rejection of some signatures. But he now says a legal challenge appears unlikely to put him over the top.

“It’s become apparent to me that we may not be close enough that those errors will make a difference,” he said Monday. “... I think we just failed to get enough signatures, part of it is organizational. We just dropped the ball.”

Pelto said he will continue to monitor the signature process as the last forms “trickle in” this week to the Office of the Secretary of this State. The outcome will solidify the 2014 gubernatorial ballot.

Malloy will appear twice: as the Democratic candidate and the candidate for the Working Families Party. His 2010 rival, Tom Foley, will also appear on two lines as the candidate for the Republican Party and the Independent Party. Meanwhile, Joe Visconti, a conservative candidate and gun rights activist will also appear on the ballot. Visconti easily reached the 7,500 signature threshold to qualify.

Pelto applauded Visconti and his successful petition drive. He said the conservative third-party candidate’s presence on the ballot will be welcomed by the same Malloy supporters who discouraged him from running.

“The irony—the elephant in the room—is that after weeks of the labor people and Malloy people calling me a spoiler, I bet if we were to listen carefully we’d hear them chanting ‘Thank goodness for spoilers,’” he said.

Pelto’s candidacy, and his vocal opposition to Malloy’s education policies, have put him at odds with much of his old party. Even if he fails to qualify, Pelto said Monday he has no regrets about burned bridges.

“Most of them were already well on fire,” he said.

But he said was taken aback by the harsh criticisms he received from some of the state’s labor organizations. On his blog, Pelto said he was “stunned” and “more hurt than anything else” by the Connecticut Education Association’s refusal to allow him to collect signatures outside one of its events.

“I want to be clear I don’t think Malloy’s organization was involved in this, but I did underestimate the vitriolic response from some of the labor leaders,” he said.

Pelto insists Malloy has pursued an “anti-teacher” agenda and expected to gain support among rank and file educators. But he has not received union support. Connecticut’s chapter of the American Federation of Teachers endorsed Malloy. CEA has not yet made an endorsement.

Meanwhile, Visconti said he also faces significant pushback from individuals and organizations associated with causes he supports.

On Monday, he said he blocked on Facebook several board members from the Connecticut Citizens Defense League. He said he had received several concerning and “vitriolic” posts from members of the 2nd Amendment group who support Foley.

“I don’t like to block folks, I’m a huge First Amendment guy, but it’s off the reservation,” Visconti said about the posts. “I know these guys we’ve politically bled together for years. To watch my own go like this, I mean, wow.”

Pelto said it was disappointing to see special interest groups abandoning candidates in their corner in favor of more mainstream choices.

“We will abandon people if we think half loaf is better than no loaf at all. As if democracy can only be divided up between a Democrat or a Republican and anybody else is just ruining that paradigm,” he said.

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(17) Comments

posted by: Commuter | August 25, 2014  12:36pm

Looking forward to Foley flip flopping on his position last Sunday on Face the State that he believes third party candidates should be included in debates.

posted by: StateEmployee | August 25, 2014  12:55pm

Thanks for allowing Malloy to win, or maybe this was the plan all along.

posted by: MaryReilly | August 25, 2014  1:00pm

Forgive them for they know not what they do.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | August 25, 2014  1:46pm

DrHunterSThompson

Well, there goes our only intellectual .......

HST

posted by: ocoandasoc | August 25, 2014  1:57pm

On one hand, if a would-be State-wide candidate can’t get 7,500 registered voters to sign their names in support of him being on the ballot, then he doesn’t belong there. Even in a State where the voters are as aspathetic as in CT.
But it’s hard to believe that Mr. Pelto really believed that the CEA leaders are motivated by the needs of CT’s school kids or a desire to improve public education, or that the other labor union and WFP bureaucrats are driven by a goal of improving the lot of the State’s working families. In reality, it’s about power, money, and preserving the status quo. And in those areas Mr. Pelto didn’t have much to offer them. All he really did in this election cycle is help the organizations that have now predictably forsaken him gain a little better leverage in their pre-election deals with the Governor.

posted by: UConnHoop | August 25, 2014  4:42pm

Isn’t it somewhat ironic that the liberal couldn’t put the effort into getting these signatures but the conservative did?

posted by: Not that Michael Brown | August 25, 2014  5:49pm

First line should read “After months of speculation *by the media.*”  Why does the media give so much ‘ink’ to kooks?

posted by: Commuter | August 25, 2014  6:24pm

Stop it already. Jon’s not an intellectual. And if you discount Malloy’s intellect, you really haven’t been paying attention.

The WFP bureaucrats? That’s just ridiculous. Those individuals are activists and crusaders to a fault. And listen to Lori Pelletier speak and tell me - whether you agree with her or not - that she doesn’t convey true conviction.

No, Jon demonstrated that - whatever might have been true a couple decades ago - he really doesn’t have what it takes to play the game beyond being a spoiler. In the process, he also demonstrated that a very vocal minority is just that, and doesn’t have any real support amongst the constituencies Pelto claimed he represented.

posted by: shinningstars122 | August 26, 2014  5:04am

shinningstars122

It seems like many of the town clerks were his downfall as many threw out legitimate names from his submitted petitions.

I do feel that since Visconti got in, it was clear Pelto’s political machine was simply not that well organized.

If you are going to build up a viable third party you better get this first, and difficult, step down pat.

I believe in CT we need to push for reform to make it simpler and straight forward to get   third party candidates onto the ballot.

I am for open primaries as well.

posted by: LongJohn47 | August 26, 2014  6:57am

Commuter—agree with your comments on WFP and Malloy, but not sure how you’re defining “intellectual”. 

Pelto is clearly very smart and incredibly passionate, and while he didn’t come up with sufficient support to make the ballot he has played a very important role in this election.

I would much prefer an “open primary” system where everyone who wants (R, D, U, whatever) is on the ballot.  In that case we could have had Malloy, Foley, McKinney, Boughton, Pelto, Visconti, maybe someone else fighting it out for the final two slots.

And the final winner would be guaranteed more than 50% of the vote, giving him/her a clear majority mandate to govern.

I think it would be exciting and informative.  We would get a truer understanding of just how much appeal a third party candidate actually had because people could safely vote for them in the primary before having to make a more traditional choice (or stay home) in the general. 

That assumes, of course, that the more traditional politicians would actually win through to the general, but of course it wouldn’t necessarily work that way.

France uses this approach for Presidential elections (the second round follows the first by only two weeks, so it’s a much shorter election cycle), and California has just instituted something similar.

Unaffiliated voters are the single largest group in CT.  I think we should give this a try.

posted by: ABC | August 26, 2014  7:25am

ABC - I was hoping that Pelto could attract at least some voters from Malloy, perhaps allowing Foley to squeeze out a win. 

But it turns out that not only wasn’t he a real candidate -  but he couldn’t even qualify to play the role of a spoiler! 

And the guy whines about why he couldn’t even get several hundred correct signatures?  And yet Visconti can? 

Seriously, Jon if you and your minions weren’t competent enough to get a few hundred signatures because you don’t understand the rules of the process, how would you hope to govern a state?

Hate to break it to you, buddy - but you’re irrelevant.

.

posted by: PaulW | August 26, 2014  7:37am

Whether they are divided, as some claim now, or united, teachers in Connecticut have always been fairly weak when it comes to contributing (time, not money) to any political campaign’s ground game. If Pelto was depending on them for collecting signatures, that was a mistake.

And although it’s not mentioned in this article, apparently he had a large percentage of signatures from people not registered to vote.  No surprise there. Get 100 people in a room and ask them who voted in the last election and ninety will raise their hands. More than half of them will be lying.

posted by: art vandelay | August 26, 2014  9:11am

art vandelay

It’s too bad Pelto won’t be on the ballot. My guess is that the Unions & Democrat leaders did everything possible to thwart his efforts. Democrats know that a divided party looses elections. It’s the LAST thing they want.  In reality they have nothing to fear. Foley will self destruct.  He’s doing an excellent job of it so far.

posted by: Commuter | August 26, 2014  10:18am

@ LongJohn47 - re: “intellectual” I was responding to HST’s prior comment. Having spent too much of my time reading him and of late listening to him on TV and radio, I’m saying that he isn’t offering anything like thought leadership on any subject.

Once upon a time, Jon was very highly regarded as a political operative. But if that reputation was once deserved, recent events have demonstrated that it no longer is.

Visconti has demonstrated two things: he - an amateur - was more capable of developing and executing an effective plan to get himself on the ballot - giving the lie to the defense that the system is hopelessly rigged; and that the base of the GOP is not with Foley in contrast to the Democratic base, which is firmly with Malloy.

And while the controversy Pelto has generated has been grist for the media mill, on the merits he has been counterproductive. He has misrepresented and misled to the best of his abilities, rather than truly devoting himself and his time to becoming a thought leader, dispassionately advocating for the interests of children.

Very much to the contrary, he lost any credibility as to the purity of his intentions when he publicly reversed himself on a clear position he had taken about not merely being a spoiler. As soon as it became clear that saying that had not afforded him a hearing from the people he had been counting on for support - organized labor - he decided he was “OK with” being a spoiler.

When it came right down to it, Pelto was all about exactly what the grapevine said he was: sour grapes.

posted by: artythesmarty | August 26, 2014  12:34pm

just ask bruce morrison about the teacher’s union.  When in 1990 it seemed like Rowland could win with Weicker in a 3 way they threw their support to Weicker and Morrison went down to 20% of the total from 33%.  CEA is controlling and teachers do exactly what they are told by the union.  Whoever thought Malloy would have to worry about teacher votes had rocks in their head. Pelto is one of those Hartford types who flit around are are not even known south of Rocky Hill

posted by: Sarah Darer Littman | August 26, 2014  1:52pm

Agree wholeheartedly with LongJohn on open primary - or at least a California style primary. The current system is not serving us well. After have gone from R to D to U , and further, having witnessed the corruption in our state on a town, city and state level, I feel that the only way we can achieve any accountability will be through some form of open primary system. At this point, the political parties have become part of the problem, rather than part of the solution. They are more concerned with maintaining their power and preventing the other party from gaining power than solving the real problems in this state. Some of the press releases I get from the state parties (both of them)  just make me want to puke. It’s like reading the communications of fourth graders fighting on a school bus, rather than adults trying to deal with problems that affect the lives of real people.

posted by: art vandelay | August 26, 2014  7:22pm

art vandelay

@Sarah Littman,
Well said!  I couldn’t agree more. The state desperately need Initiation Referendum & Recall.  It’s something we’ll NEVER see in Connecticut.