Connecticut State Convention: Prelude to Ohio?

U.S. Senate Candidate August Wolf Petitioning to Primary

Written by Juliana Simone

May 11th, 2016

Hartford, CT –

Arguably, for all of America, the best thing Trump and Sanders have done for the general public today, is awaken them to how the political insider system works and why their vote prior to Election Day, doesn’t matter in terms of who they want to see become the next President of the United States. I’ve been saying this for weeks.

For the newly informed Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders backers who have only recently learned about conventions, delegates and super-delegates, when it comes to who their nominee will be regardless of how people voted in state primaries, our own Connecticut Republican Party’s state convention held on Monday evening is a good example of the process.

Delegates who volunteer or who win by a majority vote usually through their party’s town committee, but less often through a popular vote as a town registered party member who does not sit on the committee, are by large, a group of party members who toe the line. In Connecticut, 79 of the super delegates are members of the republican caucus in the General Assembly and the rest are members of the State Central Committee.

This is because most delegates are affiliated in some way with the party leadership – whether it’s as an elected official serving a municipality, state house or state senate district, or as a town committee chair, officer, staff worker at the capitol, or seasonal campaign staff member. There is a minority who does not belong to this group, but for the opportunity to experience a state convention for the first time, perhaps, the appointed delegates usually agree to vote for who they are told to vote for by those appointing them. There may be a few renegades here and there, of course, but they won’t be asked back.

With the presumed Republican nominee New York businessman Donald Trump, beating out all of the other original seventeen challengers which included many respected sitting and former Governors and Senators, who were also seeking the title of the next President of the United States, as well as a retired brain surgeon and retired CEO who was the only female in the group, Trump learned a little late in the game that the party nomination was not just a matter of winning the most state primaries, vote totals cast or delegates.

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Businessman and Republican Presidential candidate 2016 Donald Trump

On the Democrat front, Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, is the equal to Trump, as someone who entered his party’s race but was expected to go nowhere. As with Trump, he lit up his party on the campaign stump, bringing out huge crowds at his rallies and events. He was considered by his party leadership as so­­­­­­­­meone who would just serve as a vehicle in debates for the presumed nominee, former First Lady, New York U.S. Senator and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to allow his opponent to make her comments look more moderate and put her in the middle. Sanders quickly showed among his voters, especially the millennials, he had the popularity and appeal Clinton has never been able to achieve.

Clinton was the presumptive nominee in 2008, but a new freshman Illinois U.S. Senator Barack Hussein Obama, quickly swept registered Democrat’s away, along with the unaffiliated and even some Republicans, who in casting their vote, despite feeling proud to help elect the first African American, just found him more likable. ­­­

As it stands today, Sanders has won 19 states in primaries to Mrs. Clinton’s 23 – something unimaginable to the Democrat leadership initially. Maybe more notably, Sanders has won the last ten of the fifteen primaries held in the U.S.

Sanders, a proclaimed socialist, actually resonates more with voters than Mrs. Clinton. Despite the resume full of titles, but thin on accomplishments made while holding these positions, she continues to showcase this paper a second time around, yet her connection to voters largely falls flat.

Donald Trump, despite any verbal gaffe according to the politically correct, which is then repeated ad nauseam by the mainstream media, has prevailed to outlast and out survive every opponent regardless of credentials, history or message. Voters have noticed finally how the many problems with Mrs. Clinton and her past with every title she’s worn, have been muted by the media, including her own consistent verbal gaffe’s that come out as regularly as Trump’s.

Back to Connecticut where its Republican State Convention was held Monday evening, and where it was quite clear how candidates get the nod at their conventions.

Dan Carter (R-2), a state representative in the Connecticut General Assembly, getting the nomination among delegates made up of a majority of party colleagues, is comparable to August Wolf, a former Olympian, getting the nomination among delegates made up of a majority of Olympic team members.

Though Wolf has been working for almost a year to earn the nomination, and has raised five hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars in his effort to beat incumbent U.S. Senator and former Connecticut Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, he’s also put in two hundred thousand dollars of his own money to show his commitment to this cause. Monday’s winning nominee, State Representative Dan Carter, had managed to raise six thousand dollars pre-convention and post announcement.

Wolf says, in his own words, he is not a rich man.  Certainly, compared to many recent Republican federal candidates selected at the CT state conventions like World Wrestling Federation’s wife of Vince McMahon, in back to back U.S. Senate races the multi-millionaire lost both times by the same notable percentage points.

One of the most glaring examples of convention tinkering from the establishment is the Republican race for the U.S. Senate nomination between former U.S. Congressman and retired U.S. Army Colonel, Rob Simmons. Going into the 2010 convention, Simmons was assured of a win on the first ballot. Once McMahon achieved enough votes to primary, the “switching” began until the numbers for McMahon finally beat out the experienced and respectable Simmons.

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Former U.S. Congressman Rob Simmons (CT-2), retired Army Colonel and First Selectman of Stonington.

If the right person had been nominated, many don’t doubt Simmons would have beaten Blumenthal in the Senate race, and for the first time since Congressman Chris Shays was voted out as the last Republican in all of New England still serving in D.C., a Republican would have been sent back to Washington. For the record, Shays was the opponent in the second race where McMahon hoped to become a United States Senator, and he fell victim to the same negative advertising and lack of support from the party as Simmons.

It is the same with the entire sitting federal democrat delegation in Washington that represents Connecticut. All five congressional districts are represented by democrats, Congressman Larson (serving since 1999) and Congresswoman DeLauro (serving since 1991) the most tenured, and both U.S. Senate seats are also represented by Democrats, former Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and former Congressman Chris Murphy.

The Republican Party leadership and establishment, clearly choose the wrong candidates time and time again at the state conventions time and time again. Whether it’s the money that motivates their bad decisions, as with McMahon, who spent 100 million dollars over two campaigns to lose to both Blumenthal and Murphy, but provided many jobs to Republicans, or whether it’s promoting one of their own in the General Assembly over an outsider, either choice remains ineffective. They can orchestrate the convention, and believe they’ve won once again with the choices they’ve made, but their record produces nothing more than one big zero with federal candidates. It’s not always the candidates fault. Many complain they received no help from the party once earning the nomination, but this is usually from the newcomers who have no affiliation with the party establishment.

For candidate August Wolf*, a proud father of four wonderful adult children, three in college and one about to enter her freshman year in college after finishing high school, he has personal priorities that take a toll on his income. Your children come first for most people, and Wolf’s are all achievers. But apparently this is not enough for the Connecticut leadership to endorse him. They cited dramatic issues with his campaign and even made condescending remarks about his qualifications, saying someone who just threw shot put in the Olympics, was hardly enough….maybe they prefer wrestling. Wolf, a business leader, after his Olympic career and a graduate of Princeton University, qualifies more than some of the candidates the CT GOP has promoted. He even received high approval ratings in the polls, a rarity for any Republican in CT.

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August Wolf, CT U.S. Senate Candidate 2016

Arguments for not choosing Wolf, and throwing in Connecticut State Representative, Dan Carter one month before the convention, was the drama the Wolf campaign produced. One, was a personal relationship between staff members, that Wolf knew nothing about, and two, interestingly, came from someone party leadership themselves interjected into his campaign for a decent monthly fee. A State Senator suggested Wolf hire his friend as his Campaign Manager if he wanted to get anywhere with his candidacy.

Not knowing any better, or who any of these people were, as is often the case with all new entries into the political field, he did so, and this move also proved to be a problem. The referred hire left Wolf as soon as it seemed well-known CNBC conservative television host Larry Kudlow might enter the race for U.S. Senate in Connecticut. He told Wolf that he needed to move on to a race that could win.

As any true athlete would do, the former Olympian kept running, and hired reputable staff from resumes that included national winning campaigns. Together, they were all moving forward on the right track until running into the same wall as 2016 President of the United States candidates, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders find themselves.

Regardless of how voters vote on Primary Day, the delegates and party leaders will determine who their nominee is at their convention, and that is someone who is often one of their own or someone who has a great deal of money that will provide jobs to friends of the party and needed donations to GOP staff.

With Wolf earning the needed 15% to primary Monday evening, actually even originally having 17%, a third candidate whose run for two offices prior to this without success in 2004 and 2010, seventy-year old Jack Orchulli, had someone make a motion for him to take the stage to address the delegates, which was seconded with some inaudible grunt from the back row but accepted. Taking the stage, as if he was a party uniter and the man of the hour, he asked all of the delegates who casted votes for him this evening to give them now to State Representative Dan Carter.

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State Rep. Dan Carter (l) and Jack Orchulli (r) CT State Convention 2016

Allegedly, it’s reported that he has said his sole goal in joining the race late and running was to prevent August Wolf from receiving the nomination. Those analyzing this now after the fact, wonder if Orchulli’s entrance in the race wasn’t a canard in the first place, and was a placement just to set up this whole event where knowing he’d never get the nomination, could take votes from Wolf and then throw them to Carter during the convention.

In case these votes weren’t enough to take away Wolf’s 17% to below the needed 15% to qualify for a primary, the famous “switching” or Act II at conventions took place, known now to those following Trump, as the second ballot.

The usual party loyalists ran up to the microphone to announce their delegations switches from Wolf to Carter. For the record, our delegation never “switches” and remains true to their original casted vote. In terms of election law, if anything should be looked into or stricken from the books, it’s “switching.” A totally false concept which either allows party members who temporarily strayed to move back into the fold for re-admittance, or for the rules committee or establishment to call the shots, and achieve the outcome they’ve planned all along.

This convention in itself was a first of a kind, in that under a newly elected state chair, the U.S. Senate candidate videos which used to be produced and shown to delegates before voting, were not allowed. More strikingly, the traditional projection screen that has always hung behind the stage to show the counts of delegates as they were announced for each candidate and what number their percentage was as the voting went on, was nowhere to be seen. Delegates were left in the dark as to which candidate had x amount of votes and what their percentage was as votes were cast.

The chair quickly offered to the convention that they could just load or click an app on their phone and follow along. If a delegate was a senior who didn’t use apps, or was someone who couldn’t afford an expensive mobile phone to provide this app, or was someone who didn’t have the app loaded going into the convention, among other possibilities, then a large portion of the delegation was blacked out. People just stared at the one or two people on stage who seemed able enough to punch in numbers on their laptops as they came in as reported from the five congressional districts.

Another change of note was where delegation Captains no longer were required to hand in a paper form that checked rows to show how many of their delegates were for which candidate. This paper record now no longer needed, apparently whatever was said in the microphone was fine. The party leadership keeping track got it. The only paper they did take was the “switching” forms at the end. Perhaps they believed this might be some cause of concern so hard copies were necessary.

With two congressional nominations that were contentious, in the Fifth, where an exceptional and conservative candidate Bill Stevens*, did not achieve enough to primary, and the win went to party-endorsed Sherman First Selectman Clay Cope. Stevens, who entered late, said in his words, when he saw who the choices were that would go up against incumbent Elizabeth Esty, he felt he had to enter the race. Negative literature about Stevens was even left on every Fifth District delegates chair prior to the vote, something normally not allowed. In the Second, conservative Daria Novak, the candidate who has run twice before and lost, squeaked out a win for a third try over newcomer and challenger Ann Brookes by 5 votes. First District Matthew Corey will run again against John Larson; Angel Cadena, Jr. will run against DeLauro in the Third; and John Shaban will take on incumbent Jim Himes in the Fourth.

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Veteran CNBC host Larry Kudlow addressing delegates at the Connecticut Republican State Convention 2016

The only highlight of the evening was Larry Kudlow’s speech to the convention. People had been asked to pay to hear him at a fundraising event before the gavel at 4PM not knowing he was going to address the whole delegation for free later where he addressed the entire delegation from the stage. Nevertheless, despite this ruse, Kudlow gave a sincere and passionate speech which left him so emotional in closing, he fought tears to stress his love for his country and concern for its future.

Post-convention, August Wolf, made the decision to petition his way on to the ballot and collect the needed signatures to primary. If party members respect the process, they should not slander Wolf now for this choice. In terms of election law, and the process, this is something any candidate can decide to do. It’s their choice and their campaign.

CT Republican’s should also remember their current party Chair also chose the petition option for a former U.S. Senate candidate he was the campaign manager for in 2010.

Knowledgeable political veterans say a primary is the best thing for two new candidates facing the public – it gives them extra publicity and more name recognition. As an outsider and congressional candidate has always maintained with insight and conviction, “let the people decide.”

With what appears to be a disingenuous convention which left delegates not in the wink or in the fist-bump crowd totally disenfranchised, this convention could very well be a prelude to what lies ahead in Ohio for both Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders, despite their numbers, money and popularity.

Donald Trump? Bernie Sanders? Take note.

 

  • http://www.ctv13.net/  – tab Watch Online; search “Conservative Chat” episodes #105 to watch half-hour interview with Bill Stevens; episode #106 to watch half-hour interview with August Wolf. 

 

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One thought on “Connecticut State Convention: Prelude to Ohio?”

  1. I disagree.
    Knowing none of the candidates beyond hearing them speak at events and answer Qs almost all delegates chose Dan Carter. We aren’t party insiders. We represent towns across Connecticut and knew who we favored before we got to Hartford. When you get 904 of 1045 the people have spoken. Try again another day.

    169 towns can ill-afford at least $1000 per polling place for a primary when the candidate did not hit 15%.

    The fight to beat Blumenthal must start now. If there’s a primary, CT GOP and town committees cannot support either nominee. The Republican part of the senate race cannot begin until late in the season. Why shoot ourselves in teh foot again!

    Like

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