Updated, 12:30 p.m.: Comments from David McCarthy.
NORWALK, Conn. – Here’s some election notes for you this Friday:
- Who speaks for whom?
- Formerly leading Republican boosts non-Republican candidate
- Divided Norwalk?
‘Another Mushak missive’
The NoN comments section blew up Thursday as partisans traded charges and repeatedly sought to designate surrogates for campaigns other than their own. If you have a few hours to spare, you can read the comments here. The exchange led the NoN board of directors to post a reminder of the Comment Policy.
Mike Mushak, a supporter of Mayor Harry Rilling, listed a litany of incidents involving former Republican Common Council Member Dave McCarthy, and then questioned Brinton Thomson’s judgment over what Mushak alleged was a close association with McCarthy. “Dave McCarthy has found a new home with Lisa Brinton and a new tactic: return to politics in Norwalk not by being elected … but by sneaking in through the back door by supporting a political newcomer who should know better.”
Asked about McCarthy’s connection to her campaign, Brinton Thomson, in an email, replied: “Dave McCarthy is not the subject of the Lisa For Norwalk campaign. We will not indulge Mr. Mushak’s toxic rant by dignifying this with a response.”
McCarthy, in a comment replying to Mushak on the NoN thread, said, “Mr. Mushak’s outright lies here libel me, and I call for a full retraction. That he has somehow shifted from attacking Lisa to trying to somehow associate her with me and thereby prove something is as laughable as his repeated attacks. I have donated money to a fine candidate, as I have to both Democrats and Republicans I felt were worthy over the years.”
Meanwhile, Brinton Thomson supporters alleged close ties between Mushak and Rilling, who this year appointed Mushak to the Planning Commission. “It’s sad that the incumbent has accused other campaigns of going negative, and we have to waste time on this blatant mud-slinging on his behalf by his supporter,” Brinton Thomson treasurer Deb Goldstein said in a comment.
“Welcome to another Mushak Missive, courtesy of the Rilling Campaign,” Goldstein wrote in response to one of several lengthy posts by Mushak criticizing Brinton Thomson.
NoN asked Rilling if Mushak spoke for his campaign. “No one is speaking for the Rilling campaign except me and those I authorize to speak for the Rilling campaign,” Rilling said in a phone call, asserting any suggestion that Mushak was speaking for the campaign is “totally false.”
“I’ve got a city to run. I speak for my campaign or I authorize someone to speak for my campaign. Mike is speaking for Mike,” Rilling said.
“There’s always been an issue between Mike and Dave, way back,” Rilling said. “I don’t think I knew Mike Mushak before I became mayor.”
A Democrat said Monday that the Brinton Thomson camp had taken over the NoN comments section and people were letting them do it, as a type of echo chamber, talking to each other.
Mushak said Thursday evening that the Brinton Thomson team was running amok in the comments section, so he was inspired him to speak up because no one else was.
“I’m just getting started,” he said.
“They seem like a gang of angry thugs,” he said in a late-night text message. “Ever hear Deb Goldstein say something nice about anyone or anything?”
McCarthy supporting Brinton Thomson mayoral bid
McCarthy, former Republican Town Committee vice chairman, appears to be publicly supporting Lisa Brinton Thomson’s independent Mayoral campaign while encouraging voters to ignore the Republican mayoral candidate.
Republican mayoral candidate Andy Conroy acknowledged at his Monday press conference that many Norwalkers don’t know he’s running for mayor, and that he needs to do a better job of spreading the word.
That drew a comment McCarthy on the NoN story quoting Conroy: “Mr. Conroy’s complaint seems self-inflicted. I don’t quite understand his motivations, but I reluctantly advise any Republican to simply ignore his somewhat unintelligible campaign, as he seems to be signalling you should.”
“Really sad, Dave. That you felt compelled to post this comment is really sad,” RTC Chairman Victor Cavallo replied.
McCarthy donated $1 to Conroy’s campaign, while donating $500 to Brinton Thomson’s.
“I have donated money to a fine candidate, as I have to both Democrats and Republicans I felt were worthy over the years,” McCarthy said in a comment on NancyOnNorwalk today regarding his Brinton Thomson campaign donation.
He declined to comment further by email.
Rick Joslyn, Conroy’s campaign manager, said Thursday that Conroy was unaware of McCarthy’s comments. His email:
“Andy is far too busy with the campaign to peruse comments sections! I did check it out though, and it’s not at all surprising to see those kind of negative comments from him.
“As far as I know, Mr. McCarthy withdrew from politics, resigned from the Republican Town Committee, and announced plans to move out of Norwalk. I had heard he had attached himself to Lisa Brinton’s candidacy for Mayor and has been helping her campaign, so it appears he is just resorting to attacking Andy on her behalf. Andy, meanwhile, is focused on running a campaign that will bring together a winning coalition based around his vision of Norwalk and how it can be better for all.”
McCarthy, in an email to NancyOnNorwalk, pointed out that his intention to leave Norwalk was already the topic of an NoN story that mentioned that his house was for sale.
“It has not sold, but I don’t believe I have lost my right to free speech. I have not attached myself to anything,” he wrote, continuing:
“I made a campaign donation to Lisa, who actively opposed me two years ago because I feel very strongly that the corruption in the Rilling Administration … is so rampant that he must be defeated. Mr. Conroy has refused to run an active campaign, and when he has bothered to show up, he appears disheveled and disoriented. I have asked him personally and directly to drop out of the race, because he is only splitting the ever growing anti-Rilling vote. I have not done this at anyone’s direction, and I only did so reluctantly, and largely in private, because an accomplished and reasonable person is embarrassing himself.
“I am not sure who would have told Mr. Joslyn anything, but I am not surprised that like the mayor, he responds to legitimate and factual criticism with deflection and attempts at character assassination. … Mr. Conroy reported in his own story that people don’t know he is running for mayor, three weeks before the election. That is self-inflicted because he has not run a campaign. He has a potted plant (the default WordPress install) as a website at http://conroyformayor.com/ I am not so partisan that I would support someone who will not support themselves.”
McCarthy and Brinton Thomson were both part of a successful effort to reject ballot questions opposing four-year mayoral terms and pay raises for Common Council Members. Prior to that, Brinton Thomson reportedly campaigned against McCarthy’s Common Council re-election bid in 2015.
The last prominent Republican not to endorse the top of their party’s ticket was Republican Common Council member Nick Kydes in 2013, who endorsed then-candidate Harry Rilling, a Democrat, over incumbent Republican Richard Moccia.
‘So little unity’
Regina Krummel attended Thursday’s mayoral debate at the South Norwalk Community Center, declining to offer an opinion about the candidates afterwards.
The debate ended on a rancorous note.
“I think the city is so incredibly divided,” Krummel said. “I think there is so little unity. They talk about diversity but there is absolutely no unity in the city. I really feel that, more than when I first moved here. … It’s worse now than it’s ever been and there is no reason for this.”
Asked about that, State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140), who is also running for mayor as a petitioning candidate, said, “There are elements of us that are very divided. We used to be very united. Quite frankly, we are. Politically, we know that both of the political parties are divided – both of them. Why do you think I am running petition?”
Two Democratic incumbents are running as petition candidates, he said, naming Board of Education member Shirley Mosby and Common Council member Steve Serasis, who has switched his voter registration to unaffiliated.
Former Common Council member Sharon Stewart is also on the ballot without a Democratic Party endorsement, he said.
“Republicans are just as divided,” Morris said. “We are finding that party politics – it’s not the party, sometimes it’s just the leadership within the parties, are not doing enough to unite people around, ‘What are our common agendas to really help move us forward as a city? And picking the best candidates to get that done.”
NancyOnNorwalk expects to post a story Monday about the debate.