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Connecticut GOP may go down with the shutdown ship

By David Collins

Publication: The Day

Published 10/02/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 10/01/2013 11:55 PM

There was little doubt, as the first poll numbers started trickling in Tuesday, that Americans are angry at the cadre of House Republicans who shut down the government this week.

Here in Connecticut, there is only fringe support for the ransom-demanding Republicans. Sensible people see the political terrorism for what it is.

Imagine if things were reversed and a small group of Democrats were holding the country hostage by demanding, for instance, tough new gun laws that they don't have the votes to get through Congress.

Of course, sensible people here in the land of steady habits know you can't give in to ransom demands. The crazed Republicans now demand repeal of a law passed by Congress, signed by the president and approved by the Supreme Court.

What other things that they don't like could be next: Medicare? Social Security?

Even some moderate Connecticut Republicans might have felt a little tinge of pride, as I did, when Connecticut Rep. John Larson had a meltdown on the House floor Monday night, a short tirade that was captured in a video that then bounced all over national news websites.

"Do you stand by your country or do you want to take it down?" a red-faced Larson screamed into a microphone. He went on to suggest how simple it might be to just put it to a full vote in the House.

"Americans deserve to know where their members stand," Larson screamed.

Connecticut voters have already excised Connecticut Republicans out of their delegation to Washington. The few moderate Republicans, who were able to cling to the center and get elected, are now gone.

The only political frontier that has remained viable for state Republicans is state government. In fact, given the woeful pace of the recovery here and the arrogant stumbling of the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Republicans have reasonably been able to set their sights on reclaiming the governor's mansion.

My guess, though, is that this week's shutdown is going to have repercussions for Republicans here in Connecticut for a while, quite possibly through the next gubernatorial election.

If I were Republican Tom Foley, who has apparently set his sights on a rematch with Malloy, I would have climbed up on some rooftop Tuesday to condemn what the Republican crazies in Washington were up to.

The worrisome part of the whole shameful thing is that the Republicans most directly responsible for the shutdown come from gerrymandered districts with hard right constituencies that will welcome their representatives' tough stand on Affordable Health Care.

They are insulated from the worst of the backlash.

You don't have to go far in Connecticut these days to see Republicans retreating from the party brand, even before this week's shutdown.

In New London, Republican candidates for City Council seem to have largely dropped their party affiliation from lawn signs. The only Republican-endorsed council candidate I've seen use party affiliation on a lawn sign is Marie Friess-McSparran. And her sign says Democrat, her original party, not Republican, the party now endorsing her.

I think New London Republicans might even be better off, by way of association, taking their chances with the ransom-demanding Republicans in Washington than endorsing the rejected Democrat at home.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

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