Attacking Dodd From the Right

TParty at My Left Nutmeg has a great post on the newly-announced challenge to Senator Chris Dodd from a Democrat named Merrick Alpert, a former Enron and PG&E employee, who is running against Dodd from the right and without any stated agenda besides personal attacks.TParty writes:

Unfortunately, from all initial appearances, Merrick Alpert’s just-announced campaign for Senate falls clearly in the second category [of damaging primaries driven by attacks and personal ambition]. He is already attacking Senator Dodd using right-wing talking points, and is poised to continue running at Senator Dodd from the right.

It seems Alpert has been looking for a chance to run and try to move the Connecticut Democratic party to the right for at least a half-decade now. As far back as February 2004, the Greenwich Time reported on his travels across the state attempting to “create a potent voting bloc” that he – in his own words – hoped would become a “centrist, pro-jobs, pro-business coalition.”  Alpert was at that point a resident of Greenwich and member of the Greenwich DTC (there is apparently some election law of which I am unaware that requires all primary challengers in Connecticut to have lived in Greenwich).

His seemingly-complete website and introductory video are both almost completely bereft of any policy distinctions with Dodd – or really any mention of any issues at all (the word “economy” does not appear there anywhere as far as I can tell). Instead, his campaign has emerged as a full-bore ad hominem assault, attacking Dodd both overtly and obliquely – but always in pitch-perfect right-wing consultant-speak: for being part of a “culture of corruption”, for not telling the “truth” about the AIG bonuses, for moving to Iowa during his presidential run, and apparently – while emotionally describing watching his mother reading the losses on her 401(k) statement and blaming Chris Dodd for letting it happen – even for allowing the entire economic crisis.

If you wanted to, you wouldn’t have to go far to find the many ironies: an ex-Enron employee attacking someone for being part of a “culture of corruption”, a recent resident of Florida attacking someone for not being around Connecticut enough, a big donor who maxed out to Dodd as recently as 2006 and who has been looking to run for something big for half a decade suddenly – by his own account – dropping that support and realizing the error of his ways the very day Dodd stepped in it on CNN and it was clear he was headed for a free-fall in the polls.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that Alpert’s mentor in Connecticut politics, John Pelto, doesn’t even approve of what he’s doing and how he’s doing it. Pelto says:

“I’m surprised, even a bit stunned, that my former intern Merrick Albert is interested in running against Chris Dodd, let alone that he believes he is prepared to serve as Connecticut’s United States Senator.

“I’ve known Merrick for more than 20 years.  He worked as my legislative intern when he was a student at Trinity College and later helped with various political campaigns.  Always eager and ambitious, everyone who has ever worked with Merrick knows that he’s always wanted to run for political office.  Hopefully, he’ll reconsider this strange decision and focus instead on getting his political career underway by running for a position that he is more qualified for like state representative or state senator.”

Alpert is making his formal announcement today, but it’s hard to look at this as anything other than a self-serving campaign that will only serve to solidify the narratives the CT GOP and Rob Simmons are trying to tell Connecticut voters. Alpert may not want Dodd to represent Connecticut in the Senate any more, but he had better recognize that he won’t be in the Senate come 2011 either. He can only serve as a catalyst that will accelerate the chances of Simmons to defeat Dodd. This is not a good thing.


Rick Green of the Hartford Courant puts it well: “Somewhere, Glenn Beck and Rob Simmons are smiling.”

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