Election Night

I can’t post the results so I hope somebody can jump in here and let us know the burning question…. Did Joe Visconti go down in flames?

In the end, I have to admit, I couldn’t fill his bubble. I hemmed. I hawed. And, finally, I passed him by. I wound up voting for a couple of Republicans, but mostly Democrats, including all three of the Board of Education candidates. They impressed me.

I miss the old voting machines. Filling in bubbles reminds me of high school.



Filed under Board of Education, election, Politics, town council, West Hartford

70 responses to “Election Night

  1. WHCitizen

    When are you people going to grow up. Try being a man/women for a change.

  2. I gave that bubble a momentary, fleeting thought.

    Curious about turnout… Wpnder if the rain discouraged folks. I tend to tjonk weather is overblown as a factor in turnout, but the polling place was completely empty at 10:00am.

  3. John Hardy

    Maybe someone with access to the 2005 vote totals could contrast turnout today with two years ago.

    As I have done on Election Day for several years now, I did several hours of poll-standing today, both in the rain early this morning and during the evening rush hour up until 8 pm. My unscientific observation was that turnout was real light.

  4. Kevin Walsh

    WHC-TV is reporting the following unofficial (w/o absentee ballots) election results:

    Town Council:

    *Slifka 9157
    *Brennan 8490
    *Coursey 8410
    *Verrengia 8359
    *Cantor 8353
    *Thornberry 8082
    *Adler 4481
    *Davidoff 4431
    *Visconti 4389
    Clark 4157
    Seder 4099
    Martin 4023

    *Kindall 9115
    *Putterman 8146
    *Schmitt 7769
    *Mudge 4580
    Check 4024
    Joyce 690

    Town Clerk:

    *Labrot 7429
    McGrath 5296

  5. WH Alum

    Does not look like Joe is going down in flames…

    McGrath, however, seems to be. Small consolation. And for anyone who plans to accuse me of personally slandering her – it’s nothing personal but has everything to do with the misinformation in the Trade Winds. I would not have voted for anyone either deliberately printing such lies or not checking their facts prior to putting it out there at such a crucial time. I’m not sure if she was directly responsible for it, but as the president of the WHTA the entire organization was discredited and she was at the helm.

    I was not too impressed with the bubble-ins, either. Definitely very SAT without the #2 pencils…

  6. A WH Teacher, Mom, and Woman

    I want to reiterate my last post on “Courant Endorses” over here where the newly elected may check in…

    I hope that whomever we have in those chambers now spends some time in our schools… real time not just showcase time, talking to teachers, admin, and students to get the real vibe of what happens inside our walls before they ask for any “returns” or cut out any materials or programs as this new budget process gets underway.

    Stay true to what WH has asked for – a process that looks carefully at each line item to see where the inefficiencies lie and where things can be consolidated or updated. Let’s bring back some lost/reduced programs and save money at the same time. Some think it can be done – let’s see it happen… without sacrificing the brand that is West Hartford.

  7. no surprises

    I was interested to see that Terry Schmitt was the 3rd place Dem. vote getter. This is just political analysis, but — I believe it is because of his revisionist, ultra liberal interpretation of Christianity. For the most part the United Church of Christ — the denomination under which he pastors — is in a state of apostasy. The fall of once great religious bodies, the Congregational Church, United Methodist Church, Episcopal Church, and Catholic Church (because of sex scandals – not liberal ideology) are a microcosm of the moral decline in America.

  8. To WH Teacher

    I agree the council candidates should visit the schools and get teacher / department leader input — so they know how cuts will impact you guys specifically. But your post began with a false assumption that budgets can only go up. If councilors engage in this personal level of dialog — you must be honest and tell them which areas are over-spent on. I doubt you can do this. The cutting needs to start with overlapping administrative positions and work down from there. Zero budgeting is the way to go! … Go hide behind your union now.

  9. A WH Teacher, Mom, and Woman

    To “To WH Teacher,”

    Did I make that assumption? Not planned, but I can see your reasoning.

    I so far in my career have never “hid behind” my union. When I’ve had an issue with an administrator, I’ve faced it head on, eye to eye. Problem is, I disagree with you that we have “overlapping administrative positions.” Go back to the posts that explain where we are in the state on administrative spending for the size of our district.

    I can agree with the philososphy to start with a zero budget and then work up from there with what we need, and then what we’d like, etc. I hope you did not mean a 0% increase – that is unrealistic.

    …Go hide behind your union now.
    Anyone else think that sounds a bit like our almost new-councilor, Joe? If it is, you are the first one I expect to see on the visitor’s list.

  10. Thanks for the numbers, Kevin.

    Congrats to those who won, including Joe. We get to see if he can back up his bluster, which in it’s own way is good.

    One quick thought about the exchange above, while I agree that a 0% increase is unrealistic, understanding why is a good thing. Nothing wrong with challenging that conventional wisdom as long as it’s done in good faith.


  11. turtle

    I look forward to voting for WH Teacher in a future election for the Board of Ed and thank her for her gracious and lucid response.

    Meanwhile, “no surprises”, are you quite sure that was political analysis? Because it sounds as if you might have crashed the slanderfest here at the West Hartford Blog this evening.

  12. BMHW

    The system works. In the end, as much as we complain about it, as low as the turnout is, as bas as we are as citizens with civics and the like, the system works.

    I’m a lifelong Dem. Always have been, always will be. But I’ve heard things said about Joe Visconti that were reprehensible from my fellow Dems for years because he had the AUDACITY to disagree with them.

    And you know what? Now they have to work with him on the Town Council. I absolutely love it.

    Hats off to Joe for taking all their pompous crap and shoving it in their face. He could have turned and cowered, shut up, gone away, moved away, but instead he chose to stay and fight for what he believes in. Some say “what nerve”.

    I say bravo.

    He isn’t just that annoying guy in the truck.
    He is Councilman in Truck Joe Visconti.

  13. David Jones

    Some election night analysis.

    First, Terry Schmitt didn’t really come in third among Democrats running for BOE. Clare Kindall was running unopposed in the race for a two year spot while Putterman and Schmitt were running for 4 year spots against Mudge, Check, and Joyce. You can’t really compare the two races.

    Bad night for Republicans.

    As expected the Republicans took the minimum three spots, in spite of the pole data Joe Visconti had that indicated the R’s would take 4 or 5 seats.

    But that’s not the reason it was a bad night. There are two reasons.

    1) The margin of victory. In a year when the budget was overwhelmingly rejected in a referendum, when our superintendent was given a raise after the referendum, when we had the outrage over the money for the late bus (eventually removed), a year with great citizen unrest over re-val, a year when 2 Democrat incumbents chose not to run for re-election, Republicans didn’t gain any votes. I didn’t expect them to win more than 3 seats, but the margin between the sixth Democrat and the first Republican was huge. Definitely a missed opportunity for Republicans to pick up some momentum.

    2) Joe Visconti will be the most heard voice and seen face for the Republican party. The fact is that the party didn’t want Joe. For each of the past two elections the Republican party has attempted to keep Joe off the ticket. The party was successful in 2005 and unsuccessful in 2007. The success of the Republican party in the 2009 election rides on the shoulders of Joe Visconti; NY trained actor, recording artist and composer. It’s not a foundation on which the party wishes to build it’s future, but that’s what they have.

    Good night for Joe Visconti.

    It just goes to show that the old saying is really true, doesn’t matter what you say about me, just spell the name correctly.

    Good night for Democrats.

    The town has reaffirmed their faith in the current leadership. If the margins of victory had been slimmer I would think that a message had been sent to the Democrats, but such was not the case.

  14. turtle


    Who knows what your friends said, but my problem with Visconti and McGrath have to do with tactics above all. Of course reasonable people can disagree over the budget and Blue Back Square, but Visconti and McGrath have been willing to resort to tactics that to me are beyond the pale.

    I enjoyed reading your analysis, David. Councilor Visconti, a product of the virulently ideological wing of the Republican party, certainly represents a setback for moderates. I didn’t think it could happen here.

  15. Funny story. We were out celebrating over a couple of beers at Plan B. Kevin Sullivan shows up with Thornberry, sees Joe Visconti and high tails it out of there like a bat out of hell.

    Talk about bitter. We were going to invite them over for a friendly beverage. Oh well.

    Must be very hard to be in angry mode all day and all night long. Sort of disappointing actually. I miss the old days when rivals could laugh and have a beer after an election. Some people just can’t seem to do that these days.

    Congrats to Joe, Steve, and Leon. Three great guys. It’s nice to see real Republican representation on the Council once again. We were disappointed that Seder didn’t get on – he deserved it for as hard as he worked, but we were lucky to get three with a hammering like that. It was all in the organization (or lack thereof).

    Notwithstanding, I’m happy with the results to some extent, and terrified if the Dems think they’ve found a new mandate to raise taxes.

    The new saga begins in two weeks. And its going to be lots of fun! Channel 5 rating are going to go through the roof!

    And we have a few surprises in store. So keep on watching!!

  16. PeterCM

    Who is “We” King? You two really are joined at the hip… unless you really are Joe.

  17. David:

    I don’t disagree with everything you’ve said, but for clarification – Joe may be an actor, but he’s also a licensed contractor which is how he earns his daily bread, so to be fair to him let’s get at least that detail straight.

    Second, it way too early to declare in certain terms, anything about what kind of foundation that Joe will help foster. The fact is that Leon and Steve will play an even bigger role in helping to set the tone of the opposition and future of the party. I predict that by their actions, they will set the tone for Joe as well.

    This can go two ways. The three of them can work together, present thoughtful ideas, formulate a strong platform, and rebuild a badly fractured party. Or…. they can go their own ways, and work with the opposition to the extent that residents can’t tell one party from the other, leaving a trail of confusion and giving the Democrats another supermajority in two years.

    Sure, Democrats did win an overwhelming majority here (again). And there is plenty to be said about why and a lot of it has to do with internal in-fighting and bad decision-making by party insiders on candidate recruitment and selection. And some folks need to come clean about why certain decisions were made, and perhaps bow out.

    It’s tough for Republicans to win in a town as lopsided as this. But its been done before. Joe, Steven and Leon have it in their ability to work together to create a new vision for the Republican Party in West Hartford, building it brick by brick. You have to have a message and give voters a reason to change the course.

    Democrats really didn’t make the case to remain at the helm, in fact, they did very little when you consider their past campaigns in West Hartford, but Republicans seemed to have a second place mentatlity going in based on their disjointed strategy, and that resonated with voters, and thus they kept the status quo.

    Mandate or mess? One thing is for sure, WHCT is going to see a ratings increase!

  18. Sean McCann

    he chose to stay and fight for what he believes in . . .

    and he got a third fewer votes than his nearest Democratic competitor. In fact, he squeaked in with a mere 232 votes more than Kelly Clark. Meanwhile, Joe Verrengeia, whose name he scandalized relentlessly, got nearly 4,000 more votes. Were it not for the anti-democratic component of the charter that gives the minority party an advantage, it’s possible that there would be no Republicans on the council at all. As it is, the recent campaigns of dishonesty and demagoguery don’t seem to have gained the party much.


  19. David Jones

    Thanks to all those who posted after me and didn’t make fun of me for using the word “pole” instead of the correct word “poll”.

    Proof positive that I’ve reached the age where my brain doesn’t work past midnight. I’ve reached the age of early bird specials.

  20. turtle

    Well, there are typos and there are signs of disregard for accuracy.

    Who cares about the former; the latter is worth noting.

  21. David Jones

    I’ve been told by numerous Democrats, many of them elected officials, that we need a strong two party system in this town.

    The Republican Party is in need of a significant makeover. There really is no way to judge whether the Republican message sells in this town because realistically the Republicans don’t get their message out.

    The nine Republicans who were on the ticket are free to dispute this if their experience was different, but the candidates get very little assistance from their town committee, either in the way of volunteer hours or campaign contributions. It also seems to be difficult for Republicans to recruit candidates, perhaps partly due to the aforementioned lack of support. The Democrats have a very strong base of volunteers and donors. And even in a small town election, money makes a big difference as does a lot of shoe leather. While the D’s may have a 2 to 1 advantage in terms of registration, their advantage in organziation is 20 to 1. (fictional number to make a point)

    I don’t know the answer to this problem but I would hope some Republican in this town would step forward and get this thing going. And this is not meant as a criticism of Carl, it takes more than one person make a party.

    To the WH Republican Party I leave you with this suggestion. Start working on the next election today. Reach out to every Republican in this town, get them involved, get them energized.

    Congratulations to all those who were elected and good luck governing for the next two years.

  22. Gary Reger

    To my mind, Republicans labor under the shadow of the national party. Rhetoric about “fiscal responsibility” provokes mocking laughter in the face of a national Republican spending spree. The Bush gang has seriously tarnished the brand, and in an educated town like ours, people know it. Before the Bristow forum, as he was working the audience, Steve Adler introduced himself to me. I asked him about his Republican identification, and he proceeded to disavow virtually every Republican position. To my mind that encapsulates the Republican problem — the highest Republican vote-getter feels uncomfortable with the label.

    I’ll go out on a limb and make a prediction: the Republicans in WH are going to face worse times, not better. There is going to be a split in the party between those like Adler, who recognize that “Republican” has become synonymous with “selfish rich guys”, and those like Joe Visconti and his supporters, who continue to breath fire. This split mirrors what seems to be going on at the national level, where the far-right evangelical Republican base is reacting to a growing irrelevance by becoming ever more committed to ideological purity.

    Clearly the only thing saving the Republicans now is the strange anti-democratic Town charter; had the Democrats been allowed to run 9 candidates, I (like Sean) have little doubt, based on the 2 to 1 preference of the voters, that there would be not a single Republican on the council.

    It’s also worth re-assessing the June referendum vote in light of yesterday’s results. The referendum pulled 7200 “no” votes, but those numbers did not transfer to the Republicans; roughly speaking, 2700-3000 votes switched from “no” on the budget to the Democratic side of the ledger. (I realize the methodology here is imperfect.) There are many conceivable interpretations of what this might mean (and I am inclined to attribute many of those “no” votes to the disinformation campaign waged without conscience by the anti side), but whatever view you take, one thing is certain: discontent about “taxes” or “affordability”, the Republican mantra, in fact did not issue in a movement to the Republican side. If the Republicans plan to rebuild the Town party on the basis of the anti-tax, anti-education, affordability rhetoric on which they have so far depended, they will simply marginalize themselves further. The voters seem to know it’s hooey.

    I can’t read these results as anything but bad news for WH Republicans. Joe’s presence on the council will compound their problems. He’s quoted in today’s Courant as if the Republicans achieved some kind of stunning victory. A politician who cannot face the facts cannot help his party. Adler will have his hands full just trying to herd his people, while the Democrats will simply outvote them time and again.

  23. LXD

    Congratulations Joe! I think I got you three votes, including my own. Even though I disagree with a lot of your politics, I’m counting on you to be the watchdog for the dopey dems.

  24. C. Gull

    And that my friends is the typical Joe Visconti supporter, Mr./Ms. LXD.

    Isn’t Joe Visconti off to a great start with his quote in this mornings Courant referring to the dems as elite & arrogant.

    Hey Joe! Elite & arrogant is still better than egotistical & stupid.

  25. Gary:

    Thanks for your advice from the Democratic side of things. However, we respectfully hope to remain an alternative to the Democratic team. Any suggestion that we simply become a near-clone to the Democrats is an unfavorable approach.

    As I pointed out above. The Republican Party must rebuild on the basis of its principles… you liberal classification of our position as “anti-education” is about as warped as it gets. Do you think we are anti-education? That’s a sort of rediculous statement isn’t it?

    Look savor your victory. You won the day, but we don’t need any help from you on how to rebuild our party and what we need to do. I’m sure you would have loved to have seen Republicans elected that vote with you every time on every issue – wouldn’t that have made live on the Council so wonderful.

    Joe’s presence on the Council will compound the Democrat’s problems, not ours. He might help breathe some fresh air into an otherwise stagnant debate, and tired party.

    But there is one thing I do agree with you and even McCann on… kill the minority representation. Let the Dems own it all if they can. And if they can govern and people agree with them, let them eat cake. Minority representation is a farce, and from my perspective its allowed certain people to strike deals, and has provided the opportunity for quite of bit backroom deal making.

    Let me ask you? If Democrats could guarantee three seats for Republicans wouldn’t they help to choose three that think and act and vote as they do?

    Democrats would love a true supermajority with three Republicans in name only.

    Thanks guys. I think we can clean up our own camp.

  26. turtle

    I agree that a strong two-party system would be good for West Hartford, and I honestly gave the R’s a look this fall. But Gary’s right, you can’t separate the rhetoric of local conservatives from its retrograde and destructive national counterpart. The Republicans will never gain any traction in this town if they allow the Visconti faction to define the party. We have seen the tragic consequences of an ideologically-driven politics that “creates it own reality” and puts party above policy. Why on earth would we encourage more of the same?

    I was dismayed to read the following in today’s Courant:

    “We’re going to root out the Democrats,” Visconti said. “We don’t need a majority party to make changes in this town,” he said. “The days of the elite, arrogant Democratic party are over.”

    Reconciliation and good governance do not appear to be high on Joe’s agenda.

  27. turtle

    What I meant to say was:

    …you can’t separate the rhetoric of local conservatives from their retrograde and destructive national counterparts.

  28. To be fair to Joe… he talked for 3 or so minutes. The Courant reporter pulled out one or two lines for his story. He said a lot more than that and his tone was respectful and dignified.

    You had to be there.

    The newspaper of record that we are stuck with is quite selective in its reporting.

  29. Just another guy

    Thankfully, we can all look forward to Joe’s extensive commentary on himself right here. It’s one of the reasons I check out this blog. He’s funny and half crazy.

  30. O. P. Taylor

    I agree that Visconti will breathe air into the debate, but not fresh—hot.

    While the quote in the paper may not be all that Visconti said, he still said it. If I tell you you’re wearing a lovely dress but you’re fat, do you really feel good about the dress compliment.

    From a governing standpoint, Visconti is the town’s problem, from a political standpoint he’s the Republican’s problem.

    The Republicans had already decided if Visconti was the leading vote getter among Republicans he would not be voted minority leader. That gives you some insight into the thinking of Republican insiders.

  31. Theo Cleaver

    Or perhaps crazy and half funny.

  32. Gary Reger

    I get a sense the Republicans — at least some of them — are a bit chastened by the election results. That’s a good thing.

    How can an ordinary person not conclude the Republicans are anti-education when the rhetoric they dish includes accusations of back-room deals, claims that teachers are lazy and hide under the union, disingenuous attacks on binding arbitration as if WH were not obliged to it under state law, and recommendations that teachers’ salaries be lowered to levels that would put us at the bottom of the state? If Republicans believe these things, then the result of implementation of their policies would be to undermine public education in Town. If they are simply slinging the rhetoric to stir up the base, then they are being dishonest. It’s a fair and reasonable conclusion that Republicans are anti-education.

    While I know the Republicans don’t want my help cleaning up their room, I would be interested to know whether they think there is any merit in my analysis.

  33. B

    Guarenteed minority representation is not really a charter issue. It is state law. The exception would be if we elected council people by district rather than town wide.

    So, realistically, we are stuck with it.

    Personally, I think it is generally a good idea and helps avoid the corruption that can occur in a one-party town.

    Having said that however, I am disappointed in the Republican’s selection of Visconti. In the past, the losing party was at least able to select their best candidates and build for the future. Now, I fear, the Republicans will continue the pattern of driving out their reasonable voices and move more and more to irrelevance.

    I suspect Adler and Davidoff will accept the fact that their party got its butt kicked and that if they want to be relevant they will need to work with the majority. Somehow I doubt Visconti will get that reality.

    So here’s two questions: how long before we have the first 8-1 vote? and how will Visconti react to that vote?

  34. Vince


    You are delusional. I will get the salt and pepper ready to eat my car (as promised) now that Visconti got on, but the Dems absolutely clubbed the Republican party in all 3 races. Fact of the matter is that the nearly 2 to 1 margin of victory across the ticket demonstrates unequivocally that if Dems could have run 9, they would have taken all 9 seats. And while you may be pleased that you’ll now have 3 folks that perhaps are more in line with the town party and the town committee, the fact remains you accomplished nothing other than filling the seats effectively reserved to you by law. That would have happened just by getting on the ballot, and then eating nachos on the couch for three months while waiting for election day!

    Even Visconti’s accomplishment has to be read in context–he was the 10th leading vote getter–10th. He lost to the lowest vote getter for the Dems (Thornberry) by nearly 3700 votes. An improvement over his prior showings yes, but just a mere 230 or so votes more than a candidate that, by all accounts, did not even campaign to any significant extent (surely not as much as Visconti did).

    The guys you wanted to get on the Council got on, and I understand how you can be pleased personally for that, but your party got absolutely trounced. Face facts.

  35. WH Latina

    I’m glad to read B’s reference to electing council people by district rather than town wide. I tried to look up the addresses of incumbents who ran for town council and the board of ed on the town web site. Those with posted addresses are (none were posted for Board of Ed members), for the most part, west of Main Street. And Scott Slifka, the town manager and the former town clerk list 50 South Main Street as their address. Hmmm…. are they really working THAT hard? I’ll place my bets that they’re not living south of I-84. In fact, doesn’t Visconti live south of I-84? I’m not sure, but if he does, at least there is SOME representation from that part of town. I personally would like to see district representation be as much a requirement as guaranteed minority party representation. Diverse representation in terms of both parties, but also in terms of district representation, is a good idea. Both would help avoid the corruption that can occur in a community governed by one-party or one-side-of-town rule. Of course, there is another option if the existing parties continue to disproportionately select candidates west of Main Street … East Hampton, CT residents filed with the Secretary of State’s office and created a third party (the Chatham Party is what I believe they called themselves). They won a majority of seats on their town council. Blue Back Party, anyone? Of course, be careful what you wish for. The Chatham Party experienced a whooping last night. Ah, democracy….

  36. K

    Kudos to Leon Davidoff and Steve Adler who graciously showed up to Dem HQ last night. They seem like nice guys. While I am sure that they will provide a firm but reasoned opposition, I think that they will agree with the Dems in more places that they will disagree.

    I’m sure that this comment will play into the good Christian King’s attempt to spin any show of cooperation/bi-partisanship as collusion and a gelding of the Reps [“Or…. they can go their own ways, and work with the opposition to the extent that residents can’t tell one party from the other, leaving a trail of confusion and giving the Democrats another supermajority in two years.”] But really, who other than he and Joe see consensus as a bad thing?

  37. Gary Reger

    I know the Republicans don’t want my advice, but I can’t resist.

    Several decades ago, the national Republican party made a pact with the devil. To pry away Democratic southern voters unhappy with civil rights legislation, they adopted a policy of coded expression of racist sentiments (like Reagan’s famous launch of his 1980 presidential bid in Philadelphia, Mississippi, home to one of the most brutal acts of racism in the 1960s, with a ringing endorsement of “states’ rights”). Then, later, they embraced the right-wing evangelical leadership, who demanded a remaking of the US into a putative “Christian nation” marked by repressive social legislation modeled on their narrow view of Christian orthodoxy. Finally, to keep the loyalty of the wealthy, they plummed for massive tax cuts combined with the transformation of the Treasury Department into a money pit for federal contractors with connections.

    This pact won the Republicans the presidency under Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II, and occasional control of one or both chambers of Congress. In the northeast, however, it exacted a terrible toll.

    Northeastern Republicans, heir to the New England abolitionists, had always favored civil rights and racial equality. The “southern strategy” repudiated that tradition. Likewise, a strong streak of libertarianism in personal behavior and a distrust of government legislation of personal morality clashed with the evangelical agenda (and no doubt was personally distasteful to many NE Republicans who favored more sedate and less intrusive New England Protestant denominations). Finally, the very strong commitment to fiscal responsibility within the context of government providing necessary services had no place in a plan that called for the massive accumulation of debt combined with relentless attacks on government itself.

    The result has been the obliteration of a regional Republican leadership. Lowell Weicker, who should have been a hero to NE Republicans for his brave decision to push a CT income tax because he saw we needed it to be fiscally responsible, instead saw his career end. Jim Jeffords of Vermont felt obliged to leave the Republican party. The Chafees of Rhode Island are gone. Jay Rockefeller, who bears the moniker by which this lost brand of Republicanism is known, is a Democrat. Christine Whitman quit the Bush administration in disgust (as we know now from her book). Susan Collins hangs on, struggling to be relevant to her own party.

    To build a new vision for Republicans that works in New England will be a major challenge in light of the vacancies at the top. It’s clear the old brand has passed its due date — if indeed it ever had any appeal in New England beyond a small core. But where are the leaders?

    I agree with Turtle that it would be bad for WH to become a one-party town. But can the fragmented, battered party slough off the detritus of a national agenda that repels most local voters and find an identity that can be articulated clearly and will appeal to more than a handful of back-benchers? Can there be a healthy WH Republican party without a healthy NE Republican party?

  38. turtle

    Then, later, [the Republican Party] embraced the right-wing evangelical leadership, who demanded a remaking of the US into a putative “Christian nation” marked by repressive social legislation modeled on their narrow view of Christian orthodoxy.

    Pat Robertson has endorsed Rudolph Guiliani. Said Pat,

    “the overriding issue before the American people is the defense of our population from the blood lust of Islamic terrorists” and praised Mr. Giuliani as a “true fiscal conservative.”

  39. Mike

    Gary –
    Your thoughts about the national Republicans and the recent history are spot on. But the thrashing the locals took yesterday was not a product of the civil rights movement or Reagan’s announcement.

    All politics is local. And on a local level, the WH R’s dropped the ball. They had an issue to run on, in taxes, reval and the inability to hold the line on spending – an issue that impacts us all as it becomes harder to make ends meet and live in town because of the tax burden. But they did not get that message out, through a combination of disorganization, lack of funds (a direct result of their disorganization), and a recent past of nasty treatment of their own.

    Say what you will about Verrengia and Carpenter – but they had the courage (or ego) to run for public office and win. The fact that they didn’t vote in line with some of the town’s R leaders shouldn’t matter – they were not elected to serve as puppets for those who chose not to run or could not win. Whatever their”sins” were, they were treated unbelievably shabbily by the R leadership. This did not sit well with numerous party members, myself included, or with the unaffiliated voters who flocked to the D’s yesterday in droves.

    The shortsighted goal to provide a “true” opposition party to the ruling D’s, to rail against every proposal, to vote opposite the majority no matter what the issue, is not what the people of West Hartford want. Voters can understand and appreciate a difference of opinion. What they don’t want is nastiness and contradiction for contradiction’s sake.

    So the R’s couldn’t raise the money they needed to wage an intelligent campaign that offered solutions to the issues WH will face. The message was not delivered that these candidates might have made a difference if elected. The only message that stuck with voters was that the R’s were nasty and looking for a fight. How’d that turn out for them?

    I am a registered R, active in state-wide races. But at no time did I ever receive a mailer, a phone call, a knock on my door. My wife is unaffiliated, and our mailbox was bulgin with all sorts of pieces from the D’s. I also credit them with the “accidental” coincidence of opening Blue Back the weekend before the election, and the election day leak of the news that not one, but THREE grocery stores might just open up in old, neglected Elmwood.

    So this wasn’t about the war (unless townies thought a R majority council would attack Newington), about religious conservatives, or any other national issue. It was about locals making a choice that they don’t want nasty politics.

  40. turtle

    No, it’s not about the war, it’s about the ideological underpinnings of modern-day Republicanism. Voters were right to be wary; after all, we got Visconti.

  41. Gary Reger

    Mike —

    Thank you for your analysis. It is really interesting.

    I was trying to suggest that building a viable R party in WH is made much harder by the lack of a credible regional (= New England) R identity. It seemed to me that the whole fiscal responsibility case would stick a lot more easily if there were a regional buffer in the old Rockefeller Rs between local parties and the national, and that money raising might be easier under those conditions. But you are clear an R insider which I am not. Did I miss the mark?

  42. Mike

    A weaker regional, as well as state party, definitely makes it harder. For all of Rell’s popularity, it has not translated into anything for R’s at any level. She is popular – and it ends there. That is what she is concerned about. Not building a party, not helping out the rank and file. I give her a pass on the muni elections since her husband is undergoing cancer surgery. But she does not get out and campaign. She didn’t do it for herself, she definitely won’t do it for anyone else.

    As for the “fiscal conservative” label – it truly has fallen by the wayside. Not only nationally, but on the state level as well. We just blew through the spending cap on a state budget and will have to pay the price in the out years by raising taxes again. And with a moderate to liberal bent on social issues in CT across party lines, there really isn’t much to distinguish between R’s and D’s on any issue. But at the local level, where people seem to have a greater say and interest in how their tax dollars are spent, I think a message of responsible spending still plays.

    It’s hard for the average citizen to understand a trillion dollar deficit and the problems it creates, but raise their taxes $500 a year? That is OUTRAGEOUS! So this was the time when a unified, well financed Republican effort could have played well in town.

    It takes a local issue that gets the people into an uproar to really force them to make a change. We generally like our neghbors, our local pols. We don’t want to hurt their feelings by tossing them out. But get us mad enough about something, anything, and we will. This year it was taxes, and the R’s missed the boat. The last time the R’s took over, it was the move to redistrict schools and abandon the neighborhood school concept. Then, the issue that took the R’s out was the ill conceived effort to ban same sex families from getting the discount rate at the pool and the effort to stop the Pond House from opening. So we don’t need some huge, national issue to impact the WH races. It’s all local, and what the locals are talking about at the time. This year, we were all basking in the half-finished splendor of Blue Back and congratulating ourselves for being so “urban”, so “chic”, so “farsighted”. The point that we all are pissed about the tax increases got lost among the Crate and Barrel opening.

    Opportunity missed.

  43. turtle

    I wonder had the R candidates been sufficiently supported by the party, what the message was that would have gotten out.

  44. John Webster

    The message should have focused on property taxes and revaluation. Believe my party could have done a better job in this area. Given the recent softness in home prices as reported in the Courant earlier this week does anyone think we may now get some tax relief? I believe this should be a focus of the incoming Town Council. Lets hope they pick up the issue now that the election is over.

  45. I think David Jones hit on an interesting point. He said 1) that Republican Party had a rather poor showing given some of the favorable circumstance in Town and 2) Joe Visconti did well despite not being a favored son.

    What is common to those two points is that the leadership of the West Hartford Republican Party seems more interested in preserving their limited positions within the committee than growing the Party and winning elections.

    The Newington GOP faced many of the same factors as the West Hartford GOP. They managed to convey a concise message of fiscal responsibility and accountability in government and won great victory.

    The only time (recently) that the West Hartford GOP was able to win a majority is when the Dems embraced Hartford school bussing. It seems Liberals are happy to talk about inclusion when effects someone else – but that is a little off point. The West Hartford GOP needs to be able to hang their hat on more than just a bussing type issue to be viable.

    Clean your house West Hartford Republicans . . . Clean Your House!

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  47. turtle

    So, West Hartford R’s, what do you expect the Town Council to do about reval?

  48. Elvis Conti

    Joe (R’s) seat cost his Campaign Committe under a buck a voter, shrewd guy, compare the other seats such as Tim Brennans for around $3.00 a seat.

    Using his already exisisting resources such as his name recognition, his personality ( Big Asset), his Emmy Award winning Production abilities for his TV Spots on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and MTV as well as his Nationally released CD “Good Luck Back”( Check out Itunes for the sampling) for TV spot background Music the guy was able to pull in voters from selected Television tastes and age brackets (Nielson Media Research Data). His Charisma and sense of being at the right place at the right time with 2000 hand delivered flyers also helped him to Victory. From what he tells me the big chance for him to win was evident when pressing for the primary, Joe Sampled the Voting districts door to door to find how sympathetic or antipathetic his persona, antics and Political ideas were to each district. Joe’s amazing discovery was that Wealthy Republican Anglo Saxon Voters wanted Joe in to do clean up, check out the districts Joe won in for more. Joe’s appeal also crossed over to the Blue Collared worker. Joe drives a Range Rover, Harley and Chevy Pickup, a telling political combo. Love him or hate him you will be magnetized to pay attention to him, he asked me to post this for all his Fans. Oh and BTW for all you that think he is crazy, he is a Certified Hypnotherapist.

  49. Ant B.

    So you’re telling us that in his door to door survey he extracted financial data as well as other demographic info.


    The reality is that Joe got 200 to 250 votes above the baseline, so yes his notoriety did give him his margin of victory over those in his party who were unknowns and barely campaigned.

    As for as his nationally released CD, I once sent a chain letter around the world so I’m now published in 50 countryies. Yeah, it’s the same thing.

    As for those wealthy Republicans, I know a lot of wealthy Republicans, and to a person they think he’s a total jackass.

    Joe must work more than 80 hours a week like his buddy Tyrell the King. Or is the new name Colchester Christian?

  50. It is a shame that more people don’t have the courage and integrity to use their real names. It would certainly help elevate the level of this conversation.

    Quite frankly, my Mother raised me not to use the words that come to mind for people who call others names from behind the sanctuary of a veil.

    Ant B. . . your comments kind of puzzle me. You are talking about the King and Joe V. and seem to be associating them with West Hartford’s so called wealthy Republicans when in reality they are your average kind of Joes.

    And last time I looked at West Hartford it was filled with rather well-off-guilt-ridden Democrats looking to buy CO2 credits because they don’t want to give up their SUVs and somehow believe that will make mythical CO2 driven global warming better. Just like Hillary Clinton bouncing about the country in a privet jet and limo but it is ok because she bought $2000 in CO2 credits last month.

    And where did that money go anyway? Did it go to the poor African kid who doesn’t have stove to cook on and therefore doesn’t produce much CO2 or did it go to some fat-cat Democrat Broker who trades the credits?

    But what really strike me as odd is – why would a Democrat even care if Joe Visconti won or lost? He is a minority amongst the minority.

    You sound more like a lost member of the Republican Town Committee venting a little vitriol over an election completely bungled and lost.

    Congratulation to Joe Visconti and all your hard work!

  51. turtle

    It’s a given Republicans are devoted to lower taxes. Although the R candidates didn’t get much exposure and pretty much left forums like this blog to scurrilous agitators (and all they ever talked about was taxes when they weren’t vilifying teachers–never forget, Joe!), it’s not as if taxes and reval got buried. What was the big pitch going to be, a good show over the mill rate?

    Give credit where credit is due. Blue Back Square is impressive, and people are excited about it. The Dems had vision for diversifying the tax base and easing the pain of reval, and many of us were pleasantly surprised that our taxes did not go up nearly as much as we had feared. Did any of the R candidates express interest in restoring all or part of what was lost when the Council cut the eduation budget? I must have missed that part.

    David and John’s insights are quite compelling, but I do think the R’s are burdened with overcoming the noxious image of the national party in addition to offering more than oracular sentiments about tax relief. They could start with better success at marginalizing the reactionary elements in their party.

  52. turtle

    Oops, I meant David and Mike.


  53. JTS

    Anybody else notice how Joe V and Elvis both have the same serious problem with punctuation? Probably just a coincidence…

  54. Alan Tyler

    There are a lot of telling things from the numbers this elections. First, Blue Back Square and taxes were not an issue for most people. Turnout was extraordinarily low (meaning there was no burning question), Blue Back is built and the debate is over, and, the WHTA won the referendum on taxes. In other words, the success of the referendum, while very good for the town, got rid of an important election day issue for the GOP.

    Mike is right, taxes are always a GOP issue, but there has to be something else (busing, the pool, etc.) and that simply didn’t exist this year.

    The more troubling aspect of the election is the shrinking GOP base. If you look at the turnout numbers, almost 2/3 of self-identitifed Republicans voted! There just aren’t enough Republicans in town anymore to make it close.

  55. anonymous

    “There just aren’t enough Republicans in town anymore to make it close.”

    And that’s why we are known as the People’s Republic of West Hartford.

  56. dan

    I’m a recent transplant from the northwest. My early impression is that things don’t change much around here. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “That’s how it’s always been” or “That’s how we’ve always done it”. Visconti acts like a bit of a nut but it looks like reps AND dems on this blog are looking for him to mix it up on the council. I think turnover is good when it comes to politics so having four new faces can only mean good things in my opinion. Lets hope they (both sides) can put the party-line rhetoric behind them and manage with common sense, transparency and fiscal responsibility.

  57. LXD

    C Gull, if you had gone to school in West Hartford you would be able to read my post AND understand it. It clearly says I disagree with a lot of Joe’s politics, so I am therefore NOT a typical Joe Visconti supporter (he does have many “true” supporters by the way). I voted for Joe to throw a wrench in the works of the Town Council. And I think it will work out well. I know if BBS says “Approve this change, or else!”, Joe won’t buckle under like the dopey dems did just recently.

  58. C. Gull

    Good thinking agent LXD.

  59. turtle

    Someone has started a rival town blog, Talk of West Hartford, where conservatives (well, 2 of them) are gathering to lick their wounds and plot a Republican comeback in ’09.

  60. Using multiple names

    Elvis Conti = El Visconti

    See above and read the self promotion by El Ego. He is writing about himself….and thats SAD or should I say pathetic.
    The last line is the best, Certified Hypnotherapist…it should be Certified Nut Job!!

  61. JTS

    “I voted for Joe to throw a wrench in the works of the Town Council.”

    LXD proved what I said weeks ago, the chaos that will result from Elvis being on council is simultaneously the reason why opponents voted against him and supporters voted for him.

  62. Gary Reger


    I just left a comment on “Talk of West Hartford.”

  63. turtle

    Oh good!

    I see that Dr. Check complains that “they’ve” been downplaying the impact of the referendum on taxes and ignoring the rest of the reval phase-in and the upcoming hike in MDC fees.

    OK, doctor! Yes, the referendum effectively lowered the tax increase this year. As for the rest of the phase-in, I’m assuming that West Hartford voters, who just demonstrated their unequivocal support for the Democratic government, are well aware that there are 4 years to go.

  64. LXD

    Turtle, I did not see Dr. Checks comments, so I don’t know what he’s talking about. But the MDC fees will be a big issue. Last years referendum on the MDC project was not well understood. If people had voted “no” on that, we could have switched to usage based sewer fees from the current, and very unfair, grand list based sewer fees. The only good coverage of the MDC issue was on a local college radio station.

  65. turtle

    LXD, Dr. Check’s comments appeared on the new blog, Talk of West Hartford. I’m sorry I didn’t make that clear.

    You may be right that the MDC referendum wasn’t well understood and that residents are in for an unpleasant surprise. Hard to tell.

  66. At the center

    Oh, great, another dumb blog to keep an eye on. I like this one well enough, but I guess they’re bound to proliferate to the point that none of them draw enough people to be worth the trouble anymore. I hope this one will flourish because I’m used to it.

  67. WH Mom

    Ok, three sides. One hates, one appreciates, and one loves Joe Visconti.
    Leave the guy alone. He is an unemployed, divorced, crazy man whom most of West Hartford loaves.

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