Colin McEnroe (opinion): A primer to CT election season 2022. Hendrix tributes and Batman villains.

Photo of Colin McEnroe
Stamford resident Jackie Connolly votes at Our Lady Star of the Sea, the District 1 polling center, in Stamford, Conn. Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022.

Stamford resident Jackie Connolly votes at Our Lady Star of the Sea, the District 1 polling center, in Stamford, Conn. Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022.

Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media

This was supposed to be a column written live (more or less) from the first major debate of the general election season here in Connecticut, featuring the nominees for Secretary of the State, Republican Dominic Rapini and Democrat Stephanie Thomas.

I never go anywhere these days, but I was scheduled to do post-debate analysis on CPTV. I wore a KN95 (because pandemic) and a very nice hat (because bad hair). On TV, I looked like an ineffectual Batman villain. The Fop, perhaps.

Rapini scratched a couple of hours ahead of showtime. I hope he’s OK. As a result, we had to talk about other stuff on TV, and that’s what I’m going to do here. Let’s look at the state of the races.

The Fightin’ Fifth. If Connecticut’s congressional district were a neighborhood, the Fifth would the household where Mom and Dad have horrible fights that shatter the peace on those mild fall evenings when the windows are open.

“You oppose reproductive choice!”

“You’re bad for the economy!”

“I hate your sister!”

It was ever thus, since the district was formed by collapsing the old Fifth and Sixth, so that two sitting congresspersons, Jim Maloney and Nancy Johnson, had to fight for one seat like two screaming fisher cats wrestling over a dead salmon.

In a way, this is how all districts should be: competitive as opposed to gerrymandered into a motor reflex.

I predict this is the Connecticut race that the national networks will be watching on Election Night. Steve Kornacki will have a purple wire attached to the colander on his head and running under the Naugatuck River.

Incumbent Jahana Hayes is the least entrenched member of the delegation, especially compared to Rosa DeLauro, who was first elected by Paleolithic people punching out chads with primitive stone tools.

A relative newcomer in a perennially tippy district, Hayes has the additional problem of facing a strong challenger in former state Sen. George Logan who is (I’m not making this up) the guitarist and front man in a Jimi Hendrix tribute band. You would have to have spent, as I have, 40 years in the presence of politicians to fully appreciate how boring and culturally starved they are. A Republican who can play “Foxy Lady” is the equivalent of a flying warthog.

More cowbell. To continue with that theme, the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade is the political cowbell ringing out danger, ringing out a warning all over this land. More cowbell means increasing turnout among women eager to safeguard their rights.

Accordingly, Democratic advertising coming from outside the Hayes campaign has tried to paint Logan as a straight-up pro-lifer, which he pretty clearly isn’t. A reminder: political advertising is considered highly protected speech. Hayes and Logan are allowed to say things about each other that Crest would not be allowed to say about Colgate.

Republican Senate nominee Leora Levy is, however, an adamant pro-lifer. If the state Democrats were capable of thinking collectively, which would be a first, they’d see what a gift Levy is to their whole ticket. If they used her and Dobbs to ferry more women to the polls, their whole lineup could benefit.

The latest News 8/The Hill/Emerson/Steppenwolf/Cowbell poll showed Connecticut sentiment running 2 to 1 against Dobbs.

Excuse me while I kiss this line goodbye. Gubernatorial nominee Robert “Bob” Stefanowski lost his fight to secure a ballot position on the Independent Party line.

This might be a bigger setback than it seems at first blush. Stefanowski has tried to run as a Charlie Baker Republican, meaning the classic centrist, reasonable New England species of Republican that has been hunted to near-extinction, so that its only remaining high profile example is the actual Charlie Baker, who is leaving office. (Keep your eye on Allan Fung, a by-all-appearances-normal Republican running for Congress in Rhode Island.)

Stefanowski’s hot air balloon has been scraping the ridge line since August, which is why he’s furiously tossing sandbags out of the basket.

Bob would love to have a line where people could vote for him without implicitly siding with cuckoo birds who want to regulate the colors of crayons used in public schools and who believe vaccines contain nanobots that will be awakened by 5G transmissions, thus converting humans into zombies.

Not only did he lose that line, but voters who want to avoid the Democrats and the right wing of the Republican cuckoo bird actually do have a choice, in the form of Independent Party nominee Rob Hotaling and his running mate Chip Beckett, an actual Charlie Baker Republican and — I feel confident saying this — America’s greatest asparagus-growing veterinarian.

Are you (too) experienced? If Jimi Hendrix were alive today he’d be 80, which means he’d be one of the youngsters among high-ranking Connecticut Democrats.

That is not strictly true, but there is a sweet spot for multi-term members of Congress. Jim Himes in the Fancy Fourth and Joe Courtney in the Spooky Second are in that sweet spot. When you’ve won six or seven elections, you acquire an inertial advantage, provided that you appear to be more like a good shepherd and less like Hannibal Lecter.

By contrast John Larson in the Flat First won his first congressional election in 1998. DeLauro’s name was first placed in nomination by the Emperor Charlemagne. Richard Blumenthal is seeking only his third Senate term, but Stephen Hawking estimated that Blumenthal had been holding elective office since the invention of Time.

This is not about age. Blumenthal will outlive me. He has zero body fat, no bad habits and the resting heart rate of an iguana.

It’s more like: shouldn’t the other children get to go on the swings? Someday?

OK, I’m out of time and space. Before I leave, let me point out that Larson’s opponent is Larry Lazor, which would also be a good Batman villain name.

Colin McEnroe’s column appears every Sunday, his newsletter comes out every Tuesday and you can hear his radio show every weekday on WNPR 90.5. Email him at colin@ctpublic.org. Sign up for his free newsletter at http://bit.ly/colinmcenroe.