Shaking up the Connecticut Republican Party
Perhaps it was inevitable after seeing the rest of the country in the November 2010 election shift to the right — giving Republicans control of the U.S. House and many critical gubernatorial seats — that change would have to come in the leadership of the Connecticut Republican Party. That’s because while the GOP was celebrating most everywhere else, Republicans were pouting in Connecticut.
Republicans lost control of the State House when Democrat Dannel P. Malloy squeaked out a narrow gubernatorial victory. Democrat Richard Blumenthal won the U.S. Senate seat to replace retiring Senate Democrat Christopher J. Dodd. The Democrats retained control of all five congressional districts. And while Republicans picked up a few seats in the state legislature, Democrats remained strongly in control there too.
Given that, it came as no big surprise when Republican Party Chairman Christopher Healy confirmed Tuesday that he will not seek another term as party leader. Healy served in the post since January 2007. Party leaders had a closed-door meeting scheduled for Tuesday night.
There are reportedly plenty of people interested in the post. Among the most prominently mentioned names are Justin Clark, who managed Tom Foley’s campaign for governor, and former state Sen. William Aniskovich, CEO of the Stonington Institute.
But given the insider nature of the process, you have to question whether the Republican Party will be ready to select someone who can really shake things up, help the party develop a new vision to attract voters, and use the social media to drive change. The 72 members of the Republican State Central Committee will make the choice for Healy’s successor on June 28.
As for Healy, he alienated many Republicans in southeastern Connecticut when he tacitly backed the WWE’s Linda McMahon in her Senate nomination race against former congressman and long-time party loyalist Rob Simmons. The Republican Convention ended up unceremoniously dumping the war hero, Simmons, for the deep-pocketed McMahon, who then lost to Blumenthal. Healy’s wife, Suzan Bibisi, held a high-paying consultant’s job in the McMahon campaign.
Reporters, meanwhile, will miss Healy and his pithy, snarky comments.
A former reporter himself, Healy knew to feed reporters quotes. Among my favorites, after Democratic Congressman Chris Murphy announced his plans to run for the U.S. Senate when Joe Lieberman vacates his seat in 2012: “There isn’t a government program Chris Murphy can’t do without, and that is why we have a $13 trillion deficit since Barack Obama and Murphy started working together for the betterment of mankind.”
So, outside of getting a new quote master, what do you think Republicans need to do to rebuild the party in Connecticut?