New London politics might be coming to my rescue. That might seem a little odd, given that most people tell me the city’s government has been in various states of unrest for as long as they can remember. But the simple fact is that local government is going to save me from the certifiable insanity that is the United States Senate race.
Senate candidates Linda McMahon and Chris Murphy are scheduled to arrive here on Oct. 15 for a televised faceoff at the Garde Arts Center. McMahon was going up against Richard Blumenthal in another Senate race not long after I arrived in New London, so I’ve already gotten a little taste of what’s to come. Throngs of people furiously waving mass-produced campaign signs. A giant inflatable rat or two. Insults shouted through a bullhorn.
It seemed a little intense at the time, but it’s nothing compared to the hellfire McMahon and Murphy have been raining down upon one another since pretty much the instant they realized they had won their respective primaries. I’ve been fortunate enough to miss whatever TV and radio ads they’ve put out, but each day I’ll get roughly five e-mails from each campaign that claim to be press releases while doing little more than lashing out with new invectives. Most of the time I’ll delete them right away in an effort to ensure that their bile-soaked statements don’t damage the more sensitive components of my computer.
Joe Lieberman, the outgoing senator whose seat McMahon and Murphy are gunning for, also seemed a little disappointed in the tone of the race in a recent interview he did after addressing the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce.
“The Senate race here is nasty and negative. It costs too much money,” he said. “And I think the voters would like the whole race to get back to ‘What are you going to do about the economy? What are you going to do about the debt? What are you going to do about the environment?’”
Presumably the debate will allow for this, but I’m not sure how much hope I can hold out for such results given the candidates’ early behavior on just how the debates should take place. McMahon and Murphy started out by showboating about how ready they were for a showdown by making insult-laden offers and counteroffers on when and where to hold one (or five, or a dozen...).
The debate will likely have enough rules and strictures to ensure at least some work gets done, assuming the moderator reins the candidates in a little better than Jim Lehrer was able to do in the presidential debate. Otherwise, I imagine an open debate between the candidates would have about as much civility and grace as a showdown in the Thunderdome.
So my original plan was to take a week of vacation strategically designed to place me in Maine while McMahon and Murphy shouted at each other about mortgages or something. I was perfectly content to let them punch each other out while I went hiking and visited old friends. Unfortunately, there’s just too much coming up later that week, so I had to bump these plans up.
Thus my happiness at seeing that there was a City Council meeting scheduled for the same evening. I’ll bet readers here care much more about the local politics, and the councilors have been kind enough to refrain from bombarding the news outlets with press releases on their every move. It looks like I’ll be able to cover this while some other poor sap—er, I mean, editor—gets to cover the McMahon vs. Murphy rumble.
I can’t help but recall something I saw at the last Senate debate. One person was hanging out in a powered wheelchair on the edge of State Street with a Blumenthal sign. Another person rolled up behind him in their own wheelchair and gave him a playful bat with her Linda sign. They were on different sides of the divide, but obviously they remained friends.
I don’t expect McMahon and Murphy to be as chummy. But if I do wind up in the Garde audience next week, scribbling notes about their respective points and counterpoints, I hope they’ll at least tone down the rhetoric.