The Darien League of Women Voters held a kick-off lunch at the 1020 Post Restaurant Tuesday, Sept. 28.

Professor Gary L. Rose of Sacred Heart University spoke to 40 LWV members and guests on the topic "The 2010 Connecticut Election: Why It Matters." He called the upcoming mid-term vote "A Watershed Election."

Dr. Rose spoke from his experience as a college instructor for almost 35 years. His teaching and research interests include the American Presidency, political parties, electoral behavior and Connecticut government. In discussing the possible impact of the vote, he pointed out that traditionally the turnout for congressional elections is around 30 percent whereas in presidential elections it's closer to 60 percent. A relatively low percentage of voters may affect the outcome in November.

Historically, he pointed out, if the President's performance rating is below 50 percent as President Obama's is now, his party will have an average loss of 30 to 40 seats in the mid-term election. He feels that with students less enchanted with the President and Independents feeling ambivalent, there could be an "Earthquake similar to 1994" when the Republicans took over Congress during the Clinton era. The consequences, he predicts would be even more polarization in Congress than we have had since the Civil War so it really matters who is in control. If the Democrats succeed in holding on to their majority Obama can continue in the direction he is going. If the Republicans win both houses his program will grind to a halt. If the Republicans win the house and the Democrats keep their majority in the Senate, there will be gridlock.

Just as at the national level, Connecticut is immersed in important issues at the state level. Rose cited the state deficit, lag in job growth, the gap between the affluent and the poor in educational achievement and transportation congestion as some of the problems. He briefly went over the various contests: Blumenthal vs. McMahon for the Senate, Foley vs. Malloy for Governor and Himes and Decibella for U.S. House of Representatives. He felt the races were fluctuating with the outcome too close to call. Thus, he emphasized, the local parties should make an effort to get their voters to the polls.

During the question period that followed his presentation Rose touched briefly on the Tea Party and on the proliferation of negative advertising. He felt that the Tea Party would be here for the foreseeable future since the discontent in the country would likely continue but it would not become an official party. However, Tea Party supporters might influence the Republican Party to become more conservative. As far as negative ads are concerned he pointed out that, unfortunately, they are being used because they seem to work.

The league encourages everyone to mark their calendars for Candidates' Night 2010 in the Town Hall Auditorium Tuesday, Oct. 29, between 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Residents can participate by in submitting questions to the candidates and hearing what they have to say on a variety of topics. Increase your knowledge about the important issues in the midterm elections statewide and right here in Darien.

Candidates featured at Darien's debate include, from State Senate District 27: Bob Kolenberg v. Andrew McDonald; from State Senate District 25: Bob Duff v. Artie Kassimis; State Representative: Terrie Wood (unopposed); Judge of Probate: Christopher McClancy v. Michael Murray; Darien Board of Ed candidates: Susan Perticone, James Plutte and Clara Sartori. A pre-debate reception for the participants will start at 7 p.m. in the lobby of town hall.