Rush Limbaugh told listeners last Thursday that the state of the Connecticut GOP was quite sorry. Responding to a caller from Hartford, he said:
You people in Connecticut don’t have a prayer, it’s over then, when you talk about Republicans winning anything there, unless they’re RINOs. Yeah, I feel for you. Every time I go to Connecticut — I go there every summer — they’re the most depressed Republicans in the country. I mean they out-depress even Republicans in California.
Now, myself and my good pal, former state senator Tom Scott, a true conservative hero in the Nutmeg State, have launched a new outfit, the Roger Sherman Liberty Center, to fill the vacuum, to provide a voice for conservative economic principles in the liberal-dominated and -monopolized public debate in CT. It’s not something we have launched because we have nothing better to do. We have launched it precisely because there is hope that a conservative message – which I will admit is often not a Republican (local variety) message – will resonate with the citizenry.
About the RINOsauruses that have dominated the local GOP for ages: No question, far too many have Stockholm Syndrome. After Democrat Governor Dannell Malloy proposed a budget that raised taxes by billions, the perceived GOP response was 1) general silence, and, from the few Republican legislators in Hartford, that 2) taxes were “on the table.”
Malloy announced his economy-crushing budget in February. A Yankee Institute poll conducted within days uncovered clean angst by CT residents. Amongst the findings (reported at the time by NR’s Brian Bolduc) were majority support for balancing the state budget strictly by spending cuts, (hyper) majority support for cuts in union benefits, majority opposition to tax hikes, and this doozie: “Fifty-eight percent of Connecticut’s residents have considered leaving the state because of high taxes.”
Over at the Sherman Center (which was formed in late March), with a few hands and even fewer bucks, we nearly cobbled together a coalition of GOP and Dem senators to kill the Governor’s proposed budget (we lost, 19 to 17). With a few more days, a few more dollars, what could have been … But even in that defeat was a positive sign, as relates to the sorry state GOP: We contend that by the mere formation of the organization, the 14-member Senate Republican caucus got religion; any talk of supporting any budget that hiked taxes disappeared (amazing what a little bit of clearly stated principle can accomplish), and, a few legislators even became a bit emboldened. On May 16th the Sherman Center filed a legal challenge against the adopted budget, charging it blatantly violated the state constitutional requirement that it be balanced. A hearing is set for June.
There’s tons to do in Connecticut. Tons. Again, the actions of the Senate Republicans – led by Senator John McKinney, standing united in opposition to raising taxes – is at least noteworthy (a few years back, the former Republican Governor, Jodi Rell, even while sitting on a billion-plus dollars in a “Rainy Day” fund, proposed a budget that would increase the income tax by over a billion bucks). We find the adherence to conservative economic principles by a majority of the electorate (as evidenced by the YI poll) to be a sign that much ground can indeed be gained. We find the recent elections of three freshmen conservative senators, Joe Markley, Len Suzio, and Jason Welch, to be an early clue to the new direction.
So Rush, you are right. We are very battered and bruised and if we were taxed any more we would indeed be in Stockholm. Yep, lots of folks are depressed. But here’s where you’re wrong: It’s not over. Your mentor and mine, WFB, said despair is a sin, and he was right, and if there was ever a time for conservatives to be low, it was in 1965, after the Goldwater debacle. And then along came a fantastic and improbable campaign for NYC mayor by a funny-talking conservative: It jump-started what would end up as the Reagan Revolution. In Connecticut people are mad as heck, and we’re sticking a Roger Sherman flag in the ground and yelling rally round, yelling join us as we fight to save our economy, yelling about conservative economic principles in a place that hasn’t heard them for years, sticking up for the small businesses and taxpayers, and castigating the aggrandizing state and professional liberals who for the time being run it. If you are a Democrat who wants to join our cause, great. If you are a RINO who carries a wallet photo of Lowell Weicker, get out of our way. The blood is up, we want to fight, we will fight, we are fighting, we will prevail.