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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Will DeStefano's attack on Rell backfire

The editoral from today's Norwich Bulletin makes the case.

DeStefano, mayor of New Haven, at a cost of $15,000 recently mailed 2,000 DVDs to potential donors with the message Rowland may be in jail but "the same old policies are in charge."

While that voice-over runs, a picture of Rowland and his inmate number morphs into a picture of Rell.

This is a very dangerous game, and a seasoned politician like DeStefano should know better.

The people of Connecticut have taken a liking to Rell. Five months after being cast into office when the allegations of corruption against Rowland became too much for him to bear, Rell was operated on for breast cancer.

That was in December. In April, a Quinnipiac University poll put her approval rating at 80 percent -- the highest ever for a statewide leader.

The people like Rell.

DeStefano should challenge Rell on the issues facing the state -- that is, if Rell chooses to run, a decision she has not yet revealed.

DeStefano took a risky move making the DVD bashing Rell and I can see the Bulletin's point, she's a popular politician with very high approval ratings. On the other hand, this is hardball politics and if there is one thing from the national election we're learned, it's that if you can label your opponent early and make it stick, you'll put that person on the defensive (which will ultimately work to your advantage because you'll knock your oppenent off message).

If DeStefano can make enough noise linking Rell to Rowland, if anything, he'll be the candidate getting all the free press coverage while the others are on the sidelines. On the other hand, people might get turned off with the his smear campaign. The jury is still out on whether this will work in DeStefano's advantage, we'll just have to wait and see how it all plays out.