The Connecticut Machine
by Matt Stoller, Wed Jun 14, 2006 at 07:32:49 AM EDT
Former Connecticut Democratic State Party Chair John Droney is a strong Lieberman supporter, and apparently helped engineer William F. Buckley's endorsement of Lieberman in 1988. Now he's in all likelihood working on preparing for Lieberman's independent bid and saying things like this:
"I think to be terrorized through the summer by an extremely small group of the Democratic Party, much less the voting population, is total insanity for a person who is a three-term senator."
For instance, prominent Democrats -- like ex-state Senate leader Bill DiBella, ex-state party chair John Droney and national party honcho Peter Kelly -- traded on their connections to get Republican State Treasurer Paul Silvester to invest pension funds with firms that, in turn, paid fat fees to the Dems.
This shouldn't be surprising. Here's what I wrote in December, 2005, in a piece titled 'Lieberman is vulnerable to a primary challenger.'
Connecticut is a machine Democratic state, part of the band of coastal states from Maryland to Massachusetts that are dominated by a closed political apparatus and an expensive media market. The other states in this band are Delaware, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania. Blue state politicians in this band are usually local politicians who made good through the machine. Chuck Schumer, Joseph Lieberman, Joe Biden, and Tom Carper are blue state Senators who are fairly conservative and fit into this mold. While this area is a reliably Democratic region in Presidential races, Governor seats are as likely to be held by Republicans as Democrats. New York State, New York City, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut all have Republican executives. What this means is that the politicians that are coming through the party apparatus, while skilled at managing relationships with entrenched constituency groups, are by and large not that appealing to their electorates at large. Voters, while pulling the lever for Democrats for President, are very willing to cross party lines because of what they see as incompetent Democratic office-holders.
State level inefficiency in our base region is a serious problem, because it hinders the Democratic Party from developping a progressive bench for higher office, and from showing models for progressive governance. The Republicans took over the country by proving that conservative governance 'worked', in California under Reagan and in Texas under Bush. We must do the same in our base region. Our ideas work, and when we don't use them, bad ideas are implemented. On a state level, the Democratic machines aren't even close to being progressive, though many fine individuals within them are. Any of you MyDDers who are in these areas and have had interactions with these local machines will know what I'm talking about.
Anyway, this is why Lieberman is in power. He managed his politics well, raised money like a fiend, brought home military pork, and well, there you go. Connecticut voters aren't going to elect a Republican Senator, and they will tolerate a Lieberman since he's a D. He's even popular, and his favorables cut across both parties. The thing about these machines though is that they are vulnerable. They are weak. They rely on progressives not showing up for primary day, or if they do show up, voting on the basis of 'electability' or ignorance other such stupid criteria.
The party machine is behind Lieberman, including this guy Droney. That's not a surprise. Politics to them is the business of doling out pork. That's not a surprise either. The only difference this year is that we're beginning to clean these guys out.