A set-up await­ing the punch­line

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - Opinion - KEN DIXON Ken Dixon, po­lit­i­cal edi­tor and colum­nist, can be reached at kdixon@ct­post.com. Visit him at twit­ter.com/KenDixonCT and on Face­book at kendixonct.hearst.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A mil­lion­aire, an Asian-Amer­i­can, an African-Amer­i­can and two white women walk into a bar­be­cue joint ...

All they needed was the gay guy, who in this case was state Comptroller Kevin Lembo, who could not at­tend the unity/di­ver­sity lunch sum­mit at a down­town Hart­ford restau­rant the other day. Maybe he was won­der­ing — like I — what the point was of a photo op on a siz­zling side­walk.

The sun, un­like this en­dorsed Demo­cratic ticket, was daz­zling.

So, there was Ned La­mont, or­der­ing a salad in a rib place? In fact, there wasn’t even a drop of hot sauce on any of the shirt or suit fronts of these five can­di­dates, led by the rich guy from Green­wich.

There was La­mont’s des­ig­nated run­ning mate, Susan Bysiewicz, a former sec­re­tary of the state whose po­lit­i­cal ca­reer will be re­ally, truly snake-bit­ten if she loses the Au­gust pri­mary for lieu­tenant gover­nor in what would be a protest vote on the is­sue of di­ver­sity on the ticket that emerged af­ter La­mont anointed her in the run-up to the con­ven­tion.

Sec­re­tary of the State Denise Mer­rill, in a spring­green linen suit, was along for this PR ride.

Maybe the two can­di­dates who ben­e­fited the most from the event, staged for TV and print re­porters in the com­mer­cial zone be­tween UConn’s Hart­ford cam­pus and the Con­necti­cut Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, where they won their en­dorse­ments a cou­ple weeks ear­lier, was state Rep. Wil­liam Tong and Shawn Wooden, who rep­re­sent ac­tual di­ver­sity.

Tong, a Con­necti­cut na­tive born to Chi­nese im­mi­grant par­ents, whose fa­ther was given spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion to stay in the United States by none other than Richard M. Nixon, won the en­dorse­ment for at­tor­ney gen­eral. Wooden, a tax at­tor­ney in Hart­ford, is black and got the en­dorse­ment for trea­surer.

Both face what could be stiff chal­lenges in the Aug. 14 pri­mary. Wooden, of Hart­ford, is run­ning against Dita Bhar­gava of Green­wich, a new­comer, a re­cently former can­di­date for gover­nor who is flow­ing to­ward the per­ceived path of least-re­sis­tance.

“We do have a great ticket,” Wooden said. “I ab­so­lutely agree that as a state, as a party, as a coun­try we need to look at di­ver­sity and what that means. But I do not be­lieve that we should let the dis­cus­sion of di­ver­sity ob­scure the great ta­lent that we have on this slate right here.”

Tong, of Stam­ford, has two pri­mary op­po­nents: his co-chair­man on the leg­isla­tive Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, Sen. Paul Doyle of Wethers­field; and Chris Mat­tei, a former fed­eral prose­cu­tor from Wind­sor.

“It wasn’t just a his­toric slate of can­di­dates,” Tong said. “It was a his­toric con­ven­tion and I think we pre­sented at the con­ven­tion the most di­verse group of can­di­dates that we’ve ever seen in this state by any party.”

It didn’t take Mat­tei long to take um­brage at the op­tics, with the five en­dorsees walk­ing up the side­walk to­ward the TV cam­eras in one of the least-can­did mo­ments I hope to see on the 2018 cam­paign trail.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing to see party in­sid­ers pre­sump­tu­ously de­clare ‘we’re the Demo­cratic Party’ long be­fore ac­tual vot­ers get the chance to do so in Au­gust,” Mat­tei de­clared. “This is ex­actly the type of es­tab­lish­ment, top-down pol­i­tics that vot­ers in Con­necti­cut have been frus­trated with for years.”

That’s kind of an amus­ing as­sess­ment of the process by which town com­mit­tees select del­e­gates to rep­re­sent them at con­ven­tions and to cast bal­lots for those can­di­dates they think can or should win in the pri­maries and gen­eral elec­tions.

It’s even more in­ter­est­ing in the sour-grapes/spilled­milk sub­cat­e­gory of po­lit­i­cal quan­tifi­ca­tion, when I re­mem­ber that a few days ear­lier and less than a block away, Mat­tei gath­ered about half the del­e­gate sup­port that Tong won in what was bor­der­ing on a nasty lit­tle floor fight, as Mat­tei’s peo­ple whis­pered that Tong didn’t have enough le­gal ex­pe­ri­ence to sat­isfy the statu­tory re­quire­ments for at­tor­ney gen­eral.

But the big red her­ring this sum­mer among self­loathing Democrats will be the is­sue of di­ver­sity.

So, for starters, the topof-the-ticket is way more re­flec­tive of Con­necti­cut de­mo­graph­ics than the all-white con­ser­va­tives who emerged from the sec­ond­hand smoke-filled con­ven­tion cen­ter at Fox­woods last month.

But I am look­ing for­ward to see how the Democrats frame the self-fund­ing La­mont, who is likely to op­pose a Repub­li­can par­tic­i­pat­ing in the vol­un­tary Cit­i­zens’ Elec­tion Pro­gram. “He’s not in the 1-Per­cent,” the Dems might say. “He’s a mi­nor­ity.”

The sun, un­like this en­dorsed Demo­cratic ticket, was daz­zling.

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