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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Tell the Danbury News-Times to get their story straight regarding"sore loser" law

Okay, this story is getting stranger by the minute.

Yesterday on my other blog, I commented on The Danbury News-Times article by Fred Lucas on the sore loser law. For those who don't know what this sore loser law is all about, in a nutshell, the law would basically keep a candidate off the ballot if they lost a primary race. This would not stop a candidate from filing as a independent if they felt they couldn?t win the primary which in turn would save people a great deal of time since there would be no need for a primary. Why have a primary if the candidates are just going to go head to head again in the general election.

Before I get into Lucas' article and how he completely misinterperted Secretary of State's comment and wrote an entire article cased on somethign she never said, let me briefly explain why I feel this law should be at least considered.

Now, obviously I'm a fan of Ned Lamont but this has nothing to do with him but more about wasting resources. Regardless of the situation, Lieberman was in a position where he could have ran as an independent with no problem as he polled at about 70 percent among Republicans throughout he entire campaign. Also, as early as April, Lieberman hinted to many that he was going to run as an independent after the primary and definitely had plans in place to do just that by the beginning of the summer. Usually, people who come out in primaries are the hard-core section of a political party and since primary voters were going to be anti-war/anti-Lieberman, it was obvious to many that Lieberman would take advantage of his high Republican support and go to petitioning route. A sore loser law would have forced Lieberman to file as a independent and spotlight could have been taken off the senate primary race and onto the governor race.

With a sore loser law, the senate race would not have been a factor in the summer since there would have been no primary between Lieberman and Lamont , just a general election (which happened anyway). You have to remember that the senate primary race sucked ALL the oxygen out of the governor race and make it extremely hard for Malloy and DeStefano to get their message out to the public. After DeStefano won, since all the attention was paid to the senate primary race, people did not pay attention to what either Malloy or DeStefano were offering during their campaigns. DeStefano basically had to re-introduce himself to the public against a very popular governor and since he had basically no cash left to get his message out, in the end, DeStefano was unable to mount a serious challenge against Rell. Enforcing a sore loser law could have allowed other campaigns get the attention they desperately needed while putting the senate race on the backburner.

Okay, that's my brief two cents into why I support some version of a sore loser law for Connecticut BUT let me get back on track with the real point of this post…The News-Tmes Fred Lucas completely dropping the ball in his reporting.

This year, the state changed the primary date from September to August BUT forgot to change the filing deadline for petitioning candidates from August to July. Normally, the filing deadline would be about a month before the primary but because of an over sight, a loophole was created which Lieberman used by avoiding to publicly announce his plans to run as a petitioning until the late July.

The Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz wants to fix the loophole, not adpot a sore loser law and although I believe the sore loser law should be at least debated, without question this silly loophole needs to be fixed. Unfortunately, Lucas took Bysiewicz's proposal completely out of context and made it seem like she was proposing a sore loser law when she clearly stated to him (and the public) that she was only wanted to fix the loophole.

To illustrate this, here's Bysiewicz's press conference from yesterday where she completely explains the loophole situation and how fixing the loophole would NOT have kept Lieberman off the ballot.



NOW, here's Lucas' article on the sore loser law published yesterday. Notice the section I highlighted in bold.
U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman's political move of turning a loss into victory might have seemed at one point unlikely. But it could soon be impossible for a future politician to do the same.

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, one week after being re-elected to a third term, said Tuesday she still planned to push for a "sore loser" law that she talked about during the campaign.

"I am putting together a legislative package that includes moving the calendar for petitioning candidates to match that of a candidate petitioning for a primary," Bysiewicz said before speaking at Western Connecticut State University on Tuesday.

The proposal is meeting skepticism among state lawmakers, who fear it could be undemocratic. The Connecticut General Assembly convenes in January.

After Lieberman lost the Democratic primary to Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont in August, he launched an independent candidacy and was reelected to a fourth Senate term last week.

If the law Bysiewicz is proposing had been in effect this year, it would have stopped Lieberman from running as an independent after he lost the Democratic primary to Lamont.
This is completely wrong.

Bysiewicz’s proposal would have NOT stopped Lieberman from running as an independent NOR would it have kept him off the ballot. As Bysiewicz stated to Lucas, her proposal would only fix the loophole that was established when they changed the primary date from September to August. AGAIN, the state screwed up and didn't move the petitioning filing deadline when the primary date was changed. Bysiewicz was not talking about adopting a sore loser law that would keep the loser of the primary off the ballot, she was talking about fixing the loophole that was overlooked when the primary date was changed. The way the petitioning candidate process should work is that you have to file as a petitioning candidate BEFORE the primary so it will alert voters that you plan to continue your campaign regardless of the primary results. Filing after the primary gives you the advantage of waiting till after the primary to make up your mind when it should (and always has been) the other way around.

AGAIN, here's the statement Bysiewicz gave Lucas.

"I am putting together a legislative package that includes moving the calendar for petitioning candidates to match that of a candidate petitioning for a primary," Bysiewicz said before speaking at Western Connecticut State University on Tuesday.
Lucas seemed to understand this as he later stated this point.
Under her proposal, the deadline for a petitioning candidate would be a month or two months before the primary.
Lucas then takes Bysiewicz proposal and confuses the readers by mixing her attempt to fix the loophole with a sore loser law which she did not propose.
Indeed, 46 states have a "sore loser" law that either explicitly bans a candidate who lost a primary from running with another party or places the deadline for a petitioning candidate well before the primary, according to the Web site Ballot Access, which tracks voting trends and election laws around the country. Only Connecticut, Iowa, New York and Vermont don't have such laws.
Instead of making the focusing of the article on Bysiewicz’s attempt to fix the loophole, Lucas gives everyone the impression that Bysiewicz wants a sore loser law going so far as to interview several local politicians for their opinion on a law that the Bysiewicz never proposed.
The key question is whether such a law would be good for voters and democracy, said state Rep.-elect Joe Taborsak, D-Danbury.

"People are understandably upset with the path Joe Lieberman took after the primary," Taborsak said. "But at the end of the day, voters of the state did elect him."
Based on Taborsak's answer, you can tell that Lucas is questioning him about talking a the sore loser law, not fixing the loophole as Bysiewicz is proposing.

Lucas trip down the wrong road continues through the rest of his article.
"Had such a law been in place, I don't think Sen. Lieberman would be our senator today," said state Sen. Andrew Roraback, a Goshen Republican whose district includes Brookfield and New Milford. "Such a law could have the effect of thwarting the will of the majority. It assumes something is wrong with the voters' judgment and takes power away from the people."

[...]

"At first blush, I am always concerned when we limit the access for people to seek public office," said Rep. Chris Caruso, D-Bridgeport, co-chairman of the GAE committee. "The situation that developed with Sen. Lieberman doesn't happen all the time. We don't want to overreact."

Rep.-elect Jason Bartlett, D-Bethel, agrees.

"What Sen. Lieberman did was the exception," Bartlett said. "Should we create a law to prevent voters from getting a choice based on one circumstance?"

In short, Lucas blew it and since this article was picked up by several other sites, there needs to be a clarification or correction made to his story. Please contact the News-Times and tell them to set the record straight.

Reporter Fred Lucas: State house, politics (203) 731-3358 flucas@newstimes.com

News & Editorial (203) 744-5100 editor@newstimes.com

Jacqueline Smith Managing Editor/News (203) 731-3369 jsmith@newstimes.com

Eric Conrad Editor (203) 731-3361 econrad@newstimes.com