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The election season that fizzled

By David Collins

Publication: The Day

Published November 04. 2012 4:00AM

Linda McMahon's campaign for U.S. Senate on Thursday issued a sharp rebuke to Chris Murphy's campaign, for, well, campaigning.

"It's disgusting that while so many of Connecticut's citizens are still suffering from the fallout of Monday's tragic storm, including 352,000 people still without power, Congressman Murphy's campaign surrogates ... are choosing instead to waste their time falsely attacking Linda McMahon," Corry Bliss, the acid-tongued McMahon campaign manager, complained in a press release Thursday morning.

He went on to describe a planned union-backed demonstration for Murphy as a "pathetic political ploy."

But by Friday, the McMahon campaign itself was back in full attack mode, even though great numbers of state residents remained without power.

"When Congressman Murphy went to Washington, he went in the back pocket of the special interests and party leadership," McMahon said in a press release issued Friday morning.

Apparently, campaigning that was disgusting Thursday was fine the next day.

There's no question that the storm and its aftermath have made for a strange election season. I am sure we will remember the odd, under-powered election of 2012 for a long time.

It will go down as the election in which Sandy weighed in.

Lawn signs were taken down. Debates were canceled. Town selectmen running for office abandoned campaigns to stay on the front lines of power restoration.

I can understand the frustration of the McMahon campaign, which built a strategy of avoiding the press and editorial boards and saturating the television airwaves with advertising.

That must have begun to look more like a losing proposition, when hundreds of thousands of people are without power and can't watch television.

As President Obama might tell you, there is some political hay to be made, this close to the election, in just paying attention and seeming engaged in the storm cleanup and disaster relief.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy deployed this strategy, too, taking what amounted to an ark full of Democratic politicians on his tour of storm damage last week.

New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio, who is not running for re-election anytime soon, welcomed this tour of disaster-reviewing political candidates to his city.

Finizio also joined Malloy on a telephone conference call with President Obama about power outages.

The mayor later wrote on his Facebook page that Obama heard his plea for power restoration and sent help.

"I am very pleased to report that less than 7 hours after speaking to the President and the Governor, power is back on in the high rises and at Hodges Square! Thank you Governor and thank you Mr. President, this is results!" Finizio wrote on his official mayoral Facebook page.

"Your prompt attention to New London's concerns averted a potential crisis amongst our residents who were most at risks. Efforts continue now in equal seriousness to restore power to the rest of the City."

As a friend who read the posting Friday observed, it was a little like the rooster claiming credit for the sun coming up.

It was that kind of week, when a strange storm blew in on a weird left hook and put a new spin on Connecticut politics.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

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