The shutdown has been good for Gov. Malloy

Former Gov. Lowell Weicker once rebuffed efforts by Las Vegas casino operators who wanted to set up shop in Connecticut, saying, "When you lie with dogs you get fleas."

I recalled that quote from Weicker this week while mulling how much harm conservative Washington Republicans have been doing to Connecticut Republicans, already the state's underdog party.

Weicker, who was rejected by Republican conservatives in Connecticut, losing a Senate race to Joseph Lieberman because of their defection, ended up winning a governor's race against John Rowland after leaving the Republican Party and starting his own.

That might be a good thing to remember for all the Connecticut Republicans planning a run for the governor's mansion. They may find that conservative Republicans, in this moderate state, could do them more harm than good.

Each of the Republican candidates who have announced an interest in running for governor in Connecticut has also signaled support for the Republican strategy in Washington of linking the shutdown to derailing the new health care law and other issues they hold dear.

Republican poll numbers have been dropping precipitously nationally as a result of what the party is up to. A new Gallup poll shows that only 28 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of the party, down 10 points from last month, a record low since Gallup began asking the question in 1992.

And no wonder.

Even the prominent business lobbies in Washington are heading for the lifeboats, abandoning the sinking Republican ship and vowing to take on hard core tea party loyalists in the next election cycle.

Americans see the Republican crisis creation in Washington, hobbling from one deadline to the next, for what it is. Threats about the debt ceiling are not about the country spending less. They're about the country possibly not paying for the spending Congress already has approved.

Instead of cutting the credit cards in half, they threaten not to pay the credit card bills, a bad choice, as any credit card holder knows. Kicking that same can down the road another month or two won't help either.

I think Americans are tired, not just of the unnecessary crisis-making, but of the phony finger pointing, too.

As Jon Stewart said in a skit this week, don't fart and point at the dog. Own it. Keeping the government open and paying bills are basic responsibilities unrelated to all the other "we want" things on the Republicans' wish list.

Alas, all the prominent Connecticut Republicans who want to be governor have sided with the ransom-demanding, tantrum-throwing Republicans in Washington. They are clearly afraid of alienating all the tea party Republicans in Connecticut with a party primary looming.

But as Lowell Weicker would have it, if you lie with dogs you get fleas.

If Republican poll numbers are sinking like a stone around the country, imagine how badly the Republican brand is faring here in Connecticut. Already there isn't a single Republican in the state's delegation to Washington.

The way things are going, you soon won't find many holding state office either.

This seems to be a new watershed for the Republican Party, already in need of a makeover after the poor showing in the last national elections. Instead, the party is in a tailspin, with crazies in the cockpit.

Certainly none of this is lost on Gov. Dannel Malloy, considered to be one of the most vulnerable Democratic governors in the country, until last week anyway.

Malloy smartly has jumped on the shutdown bandwagon, rescuing with state money a big urban Head Start program shuttered by the Republicans.

I suspect that, no matter how the latest crisis unfolds in Washington, Malloy is going to be sure to remind voters what side the Republicans who challenge him took in the confrontation.

It's not that long until the gubernatorial election, and Malloy will make sure voters remember October 2013, the month when Connecticut Republicans started scratching their ears with their back legs.

This is the opinion of David Collins


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