Reporters, this one included, were a little surprised to see Lt. Governor Michael Fedele at the news conference following the explosion at the Kleen Energy Plant in Middletown, and very surprised NOT to see Governor Rell. Our friend Brian Lockhart at the Stamford Advocate has the details http://blog.ctnews.com/politicalcapitol/2010/02/09/why-lt-gov-fedele-not-rell-was-in-front-of-the-cameras-in-middletown/
However, one has to wonder if there is more to it. The plant explosion was a huge story that made national news. Think about it, when we watch coverage on CNN and the other cable networks of wildfires in California we see Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger overseeing the operation and fielding questions. Hurricanes in Florida, we see Governor Charlie Crist, and so on. On Sunday for the plant explosion, the nation did not see Governor Rell, but rather the Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut. That is certainly unusual. In fact, it wasn’t until well into Monday that Governor Rell appeared on television, although she did telephone interviews Monday morning.
It would be in extremely poor taste for them to admit it, but Fedele’s people have to be thrilled that the Governor skipped the news conference and let their man represent the state on national television. At a time when former Ambassador to Ireland and candidate for governor Tom Foley is all over the airwaves with commercials, Fedele got free air time on all four local television stations on Super Bowl Sunday when record numbers of television sets were on. Tens of thousands of voters were watching. Voters and viewers got the clear impression that the Lt. Governor was running the state. Fedele can put a check next to “stature enhancement” on his campaign checklist.
Sunday was a boost Fedele needed. His campaign got off to rocky start after he told reporters Governor Rell had privately endorsed him. The Governor later said that wasn’t the case and that an endorsement from her may not come until after the primary. Ouch.
Let’s suppose for a moment Rell HAD endorsed Fedele when she announced she would not seek re-election. It is possible Foley wouldn’t have jumped into the race. Ditto for Metro Hartford Alliance President Oz Griebel and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton. Would they really have taken on the chosen candidate of a Governor with such high approval ratings?
Since then the polls have shown Foley to be the leader of the pack, but not by much. A recent Quinnipiac Poll had 59% of Republicans undecided, so there is still time and room for Fedele to grow his support, but the road will be tougher without his State Capitol partner touting the strengths of the man she plucked from obscurity to be her running mate.
Republicans will meet for their convention in May, with Governor Rell presumably staying neutral. But what happens if the delegates nominate Griebel, Foley, Boughton or someone else other than Fedele. Will the Governor continue to stay out of the race, knowing her silence could cost Fedele the primary in August? Let’s face it, her endorsement won’t pack a lot of punch after the primary. Does anyone think Rell would endorse Ned Lamont or Dan Malloy or any Democrat over her fellow Republican, even if it isn’t Fedele?
I don’t think Rell’s decision to let Fedele take such a high profile role on Sunday was a calculated political move, but regardless it helped her right hand man. Fedele needs Rell’s endorsement sooner than later, but in the meantime little gifts from the Governor can’t hurt.
good lord you’re absolutely right about that dennis. if it’s a calculated decision, which it very likely was, it was in remarkably poor taste.
Dennis, you say that “[you] don’t think Rell’s decision to let Fedele take such a high profile role on Sunday was a calculated political move, but regardless it helped her right hand man,” yet your entire post seems to strongly insinuate that the only possible reason for Jodi Rell to abdicate the presser was to give Fedele a political advantage.
Let’s call a spade a spade. You can qualify your post with the politically naive assessment that Jodi Rell’s decision to let Mike appear before the camera’s was just good luck for him. But I find it difficult to believe that there is anything “uncalculated” about a lieutenant governor from Stamford finding his way into a press conference regarding a nationally televised disaster that took place in Middletown (not exactly Stamford’s backyard) in a year in which the he is running for statewide office and the governor is retiring.
I hope your blog isn’t the only place you ask these questions regarding Fedele…. as is evident from my post above, I think it’s fairly clear that this is a cynical attempt to get Fedele face-time during a nationally televised disaster, which, as commenter Doug Hardy points out, is in remarkably poor taste.
Unfortunately, most CT citizens don’t read local political blogs like yours and Brian Lockhart’s or understand the duties and responsibilities of the lieutenant governor… thus, the significance of Fedele appearing in Middletown will be lost on most people, who will only see him in video and soundbites or quoted in articles and assume it is only natural.
Politics is politics, and no politician worth his salt would pass up the opportunity to appear on national television next to grim faced firemen. Sadly, they’re also not above capitalizing on a tragedy to boost their own profile or get them a few votes. It doesn’t mean we need to let them get away with it.
Unlike most bloggers, the ether of the internet isn’t the only media you have access to. It would be great if these questions weren’t just asked here on your blog, but also on air, either on the evening news or Face the State.
I was holding off on answering this one. I guess because I was so upset over what had happened, upset over the deaths of the five men, upset that the Gov. of this state DID NOT have the courage, the grit, the feelings, not to be there to calm this state what was going on. Not to come on T.V. to be there as the two State Legislators were there. Since we didn’t see the whole question/answers I don’t know if they even talked.
Gov. Rell, left the wonderful Mayor of Middletown field the questions. I met the Mayor a few weeks before and let me tell you, this poor man looked like he had been thrown under the bus. There was such a difference in his face – he had aged in that short period of time to see what happened, and to let us know we were going to be ok.
If this were any other state, the Gov. would be there in the front line. The only time that I can think that there wasn’t was on 9/11 but that was due to Gov. was over an hour away. Hartford is not an hour away from Middletown.
I understand that Gov. Rell went to the site, therefore she should have stayed to talk to the press. Again, as I said before, Middletown was not under attack at least.
It’s things like this that will have people give Gov. Rell a very low rating. Please Gov. Rell if you read this, know you are hurting your state.