The Connecticut Machine

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."

John Droney is a real nice guy.

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.

Tags: Joe Lieberman (all tags)



Re: The Connecticut Machine

"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."

Joe-Mo is terrified of us -- AND THE VOTERS??? Good grief! What a weeney he is.

by Sitkah 2006-06-14 08:05AM | 0 recs
Re: The Connecticut Machine

has that 'Do Not Question' feel to it.

by dblhelix 2006-06-14 08:09AM | 0 recs
Re: The Connecticut Machine

If we can bring down Joe-Blow this year, a lot more machine pols will be terrified of us -- AND THE VOTERS.

And even if we don't, we'll be scaling their walls next.

by Sitkah 2006-06-14 08:18AM | 0 recs
Re: The Connecticut Machine

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.

Behold the Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend 2002 bid for MD-GOV!

by dblhelix 2006-06-14 08:08AM | 0 recs
Re: The Connecticut Machine

I'm betting that Lieberman pulls out of the Democratic party soon and runs as an independent, because he can't afford to lose a primary to Lamont and then run as an indy.  From his perspective, much better to bail out now before suffering a humiliating primary defeat.

by global yokel 2006-06-14 08:26AM | 0 recs
Re: The Connecticut Machine

I doubt it, I think Sen Lieberman will run in the primary where I think his chances are still better than 50/50 he will win.  There is a group called Independents for Lieberman, who claims they are supporters of the Senator but not actually with his campaign, are stating they are in the process of collecting signatures as an insurance policy.  As for Lieberman being in the party my guess is he will not leave the Democratic caucus and will vote for Harry Reid no matter how he is elected.  

by THE MODERATE 2006-06-14 08:54AM | 0 recs
Re: The Connecticut Machine

I think you are right.

The question is: if Lieberman either (barely) wins the (D) primary or wins as an independent, does this strengthen the liberal/progressive wing of the party or marginalize it?

by dblhelix 2006-06-14 09:02AM | 0 recs
Re: The Connecticut Machine

Regardless of how this turns out, rest assured that beads of nervous sweat are forming on the foreheads of a lot of other rotten Dem politicians. Lieberman's fear has gone from being smellable to being visible and so it will be with others in time because the liberal netroots movement is growing all the time.

by Sitkah 2006-06-14 09:07AM | 0 recs
Re: The Connecticut Machine

beads of nervous sweat

Speaking of which, isn't Maria Cantwell sweating big-time? Don't hear much about this race on the blogs and am on the other coast -- but doesn't she have a challenger or some sort of liberal opposition that's giving her fits?

by dblhelix 2006-06-14 09:18AM | 0 recs
Re: The Connecticut Machine

Cantwell also faces opposition from the left. In the Democratic primary, she will face Mark Wilson, the Green Party candidate for Senate in 2004, who is running in 2006 as a Democrat. In the November general election, there may be a Green Party opponent: On March 9, 2006, Aaron Dixon, former captain of the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party and longtime community activist, announced his decision to seek the Green Party's nomination for U.S. Senate. He plans to challenge Cantwell on her continued support for the U.S. presence in Iraq and the USA PATRIOT Act.

by Sitkah 2006-06-14 11:03AM | 0 recs
Does Anyone Have Rasmussen Reports Account?

Someone eluded to a new poll out on one of the local blogs in CT, but I don't see it.  Maybe it's a premium member thing?


by Tim Tagaris 2006-06-14 08:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Does Anyone Have Rasmussen Reports Account?

Yes, it's a premium thing. Apparently Lieberman was only up 46-40.

It seems pretty likely that he's going to run as an Indy now, meaning that it would probably be helpful to create a 527 (or hijack an existing one if it's too late to create a new one) to run ads calling Lieberman a tax-lover [his roll call votes do back that up] (to try to cut into his support among Republicans. Maybe  some conservatives would even donate to it if it was done right).

by bobdoleisevil 2006-06-14 05:22PM | 0 recs
Re: The Connecticut Machine
Machines have the weakness of always needing fuel.  If the grassroots fills the tanks they get to chose the driver.
by upperleftedge 2006-06-14 08:31AM | 0 recs
Re: The Connecticut Machine

Thank you Matt for pointing out one of the inherent problems of relying on a political machine to run politics. The candidates they deliver are bad for the state. That's why Chris' lead in getting involved at the local party level is something we all should be listening to and leading on.

by Our Gal in Brooklyn 2006-06-14 08:33AM | 0 recs
A Niggle

I think I may have raised this with the original post.  Reagan and Bush didn't really prove that conservative governance worked in their respective states.  In fact, Reagan raised taxes as part of balanced-budget deal, something that the Gropenator refuses to do today--just so you know how "moderate" he really is, well to the right of Reagan.

And Bush, well, his record was pretty pathetic--terrible on the environment, a couple hundred thousand kids eligible for health care under CHIPS who weren't enrolled, the "Funeralgate" scandal, etc.  Which is why Bush refused to be interviewed by Gail Sheehy--once the queen of soft journalism--when she actually started taking a look at Texas itself, and wanted to ask him some questions about it.

But at least they gave the appearance that conservative governance worked, to the lazy and clueless Versailles press.  It's a whole lot harder to do the same from the left, and particularly from the Northeast, which doesn't have the Texas/California isolated big state advantage of easily selling it's myths to most of the country from a distance.  We simply can't fake em out like Bush and Reagan could.  We've got to actually deliver.  And the hacks who prevent that are the worst thing that the Democratic Party has to overcome.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-06-14 10:34AM | 0 recs
Re: A Niggle

Governance is about whether you can execute on a certain vision.  Bush turned Texas into Texas before he turned American into Texas.

by Matt Stoller 2006-06-14 12:05PM | 0 recs
Not Really

Texas was already Texas. Ann Richards was part of a movement to change Texas, and Bush was the figurehead for backlash, and re-consolidation, not for doing anything new, except in a few minor ways.  Much of what was done "under" him was not his doing, even formally.

This applies to both good (what little there was) as well as bad.  The phony "Houston Miracle" that gave him his Secretary of Education is an example of a fraud that he had nothing directly to do with, for example.

The same was true of Reagan in California.  All he did was basically preside over California not falling apart, while those he helped bring to power were busy planting the seeds that would eventually take the state down.  Our fall from the top to the bottom in per-student per-capita funding for education is as good a barometer as any of what the conservative movement brought us.  But the fruits didn't blossom until long after Reagan was gone.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-06-14 01:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Not Really

Exactly, Paul.  The man who really ran Texas govt under both Richards and Bush was the conservative Dem power-broker Lt Gov Bob Bullock. Constitutionally the Queen of England has about as much power as the Gov of Texas with all the "cabinet" and judges elected and the Leg all-powerful.  The Lt Gov runs the Senate & really holds the strings of power.  Still Richards did try to set a new tone & rubbed Bullock the wrong way; it's no secret he much prefered working with Bush who was completely pliant & Bullock actually govern.  The unusual structure of Texas govenment was pretty much overlooked by the media in 2000 (gosh, just a bit complicated I guess) but those of us familiar with it knew that Bush was entering the White House with zero governing experience.

Nonetheless, Gore would have swept the election had he made it about Texas, where the saying is Thank God for Mississippi (as the two states are almost always in the bottom 5 in education, the environment, health care, poverty etc etc).  Gore should have warned (correctly as it turns out) that Bush intended to turn the US into Texas, and just what a disaster that would be for the country at large.

by LeislerNYC 2006-06-14 04:30PM | 0 recs
I Agree 100%

If were Gore, I would have spent a lot of time in Texas, just going around and visiting all the disaster sites.

Or perhaps I would have done a ping-pong thing.  Visit three education, or environmental, or health care disaster sites in Texas, then go to three states where where good things were happening, and say, "I don't want these to turn into what we saw in Texas.  I want to duplicate these throughout America."

I mean, really, there was such an abysmal lack of imagination in that campaign.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-06-14 07:58PM | 0 recs
Re: The Connecticut Machine


Your post is right on the mark.

Now, about you not saving me any cajun food...

by ctblogger 2006-06-14 10:50AM | 0 recs
Re: The Connecticut Machine

I tried to save you a burger...


by Matt Stoller 2006-06-14 12:05PM | 0 recs
Re: The Connecticut Machine

NJ makes CT look like its run by William Jennings Bryant by comparison. If the Right Wing Talk radio crowd didn't keep throwing up guys who were anti-gun control and anti-abortion I doubt the Dems would hold  as much power as they do.

Its a real problem, how do you break the machine without breaking the party. Populism is great and all but when facing entrenched neptocratic systems like Sharp Jame's regime in Newark what can you really do?

by Windowdog 2006-06-14 12:19PM | 0 recs
Re: The Connecticut Machine

  One thing that's striking in the mainstream media's narrative of this primary:

  Howard Dean, speaking for the DNC, has pledged to support the winner of the primary, be that Joe or Ned.

 Ned Lamont, Lieberman's opponent, has pledged to support Joe if Joe wins the primary.

 Meanwhile, Lieberman angrily refuses to make a corresponding pledge to support Lamont should Lamont beat him, and Chuck Schumer won't commit to deploying DSCC resources to support Lamont should Lamont be the nominee, hinting strongly that he'd support Lieberman's hypothetical indy bid instead.

  But, somehow, it's the netroots people -- Dean and Lamont -- who are cast as the "divisive" ones in this narrative.  That speaks volumes of our media, none of it flattering.

 The cancer that ravages the institutional Democratic Party is much more advanced than we thought.

 Oh, has anyone asked Schumer if he'd support Hawaii's Senator Akaka should he decide to run an indy bid?

by Master Jack 2006-06-14 03:36PM | 0 recs
Re: The Connecticut Machine

I gotta say, it blows my mind that these northeastern states (I'm from RI) are just packed with prominent Democrats at the state level, yet none of them can get it up for a run for governor.  Connecticut is overflowing with current and former House Speakers, Senate Majority Leaders, and so forth, and all we can get to run for governor is a couple of small-town mayors?  that's ridiculous.

by terry312 2006-06-14 05:24PM | 0 recs
Re: The Connecticut Machine

I see 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."

And wonder what part of that whole "democratic republic" thing are they not getting?  If Joe can't get the votes, then he obviously doesn't deserve to be a CT senator.  That seems so brutally straightforward to me, and yet not to them, it makes me wonder whether something bonked them on the head when they were little.

by Marc in KS 2006-06-15 12:50AM | 0 recs


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