Now that we all know Joe Lieberman will be leaving the United States Senate, the focus has turned to who will try to replace him.
Already there is a list of candidates who say they will run and an even more interesting list of people who people think will run. Most of the speculation is on the Democratic side. This makes sense as it's unlikely the seat would go Republican after Linda McMahon failed to top uninspiring Democrat Richard Blumenthal last November despite outspending him big time.
Nonetheless, let the speculation begin. And, while we are at it, let’s try to focus it on environmental policy since, that’s kind of what we do here at MNN.
1. Chris Murphy
First, I’ll begin with the official candidates. The most recent candidate to become an official candidate is congressman Chris Murphy. Murphy was already considering challenging Lieberman in 2012. Now he may end up being the front-runner for the position.
Murphy is against cap and trade because he says, “It will increase energy costs and Connecticut already pays the highest electricity rates in the country.” This chart, which Murphy linked to on his website, shows that that is no longer true, Connecticut is about a 70 cents behind New York, but his point is well taken.
Murphy does frequently like to talk about how environmental issues are what got him in to politics in the first place. He has said several times that a battle to keep a power plant form being placed on wetlands is what prompted him to join his local zoning commission to keep it from happening.
2. Susan Bysiewicz
The former Secretary of State for the land of nutmeg has said very little about environmental policy. But she has officially joined the race. Bysiewicz was the first candidate to announce her candidacy after Lieberman said 2012 would be the end of the line for him. Bysiewicz comes with plenty of controversy and may be an easy target for Republicans if she emerged victorious in a Democratic primary election. She recently tried to run for Attorney General, but a court in the state said she could not run for the position because she did not have sufficient courtroom experience. Before that, Bysiewicz has gotten into a bit of trouble for calling elections for Democrats a bit earlier than she should have. Now, the woman who was said to have dreamed of becoming governor of Connecticut, but wasn’t allowed to run for Attorney General, and garnered criticism as Secretary of State also wants to be a senator.
Shortly after throwing her hat in the ring to replace Lieberman, Bysiewicz took an interesting tactic. She took aim at the man who represented her district for more than two decades. "We need a senator who is 100 percent focused on helping our state, and Senator Joe Lieberman has been focused on everything but Connecticut,'' Bysiewicz said in a statement reported in the Middletown Press. Interesting way to start for an interesting candidate.
3. Joe Courtney
Maybe Connecticut will choose to replace one Joe with another. While Representative Courtney hasn’t made anything official yet, he is on the rumor list. When it comes to energy and the environment, Courtney has a record to stand on. He is a founding member of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition and the Green Schools Caucus. He generally frames energy issues as national security issues. “Energy independence is not just about lower gas prices, it means greater national security and increased innovation that will spur economic recovery and American global leadership in the development of advanced energy technologies.” Courtney has supported tax incentives for the purchase and installation of energy efficient improvements in residential and commercial buildings, as well as appliances. On fuel efficiency, Courtney supported raising mileage standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. He is on the record supporting the energy efficiency programs, including the $60 billion dollar program for weatherization assistance, loan guarantees, and tax credits to improve the energy efficiency of homes and businesses.
Beyond being an advocate for stopping pollution in his own state, Courtney has touted his support for the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which is another idea worth considering that the Senate has ignored.
4. Linda McMahon
Fresh off of her defeat to now-Senator Richard Blumenthal, McMahon remains the top name in many Republican circles. Thanks to her contentious race with the soon-to-be senior senator, McMahon’s feelings on energy and environmental issues are quite clear. “I oppose cap-and-trade because it will increase energy costs and Connecticut already pays the highest electricity rates in the continental U.S.” I feel like everyone on Connecticut likes to tout this point.
While she is clear in her opposition to the failed cap and trade polices of the last several years, McMahon has also staked out territory in the predictable “all of the above” energy policy world. She says she favors increasing the development of solar, wind, hydroelectric, nuclear and natural gas power. McMahon also favors offshore oil development, but feels states and not the federal government should decide if the practice is permissible.
So far, there is no word out of the McMahon camp as to whether she would run or if she would even consider another run. Still, having her in the race would make Connecticut interesting to watch once again, though her failures in 2010 may be reason enough for her to take a pass on 2012.
These are candidates and potential candidates who will be vying to replace Joe Lieberman after four terms in the Senate. As more throw their hats in the ring, Connecticut will be interesting to watch as its next senator may be in a pivotal position for making decisions about our nation’s energy and environmental policies.