The Wheelhouse | Connecticut Public Radio
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The Wheelhouse

Wednesdays 9:00 am and 7:00 pm

Connecticut's best journalists come out of the political trenches every Wednesday to join us on Connecticut Public Radio's weekly news roundtable, The Wheelhouse.

The Wheelhouse is a live, call-in show, so join us when we're on air at (860) 275-7266.

When we're live in our New Haven studios call us at 203-776-9677.

When we aren't on air, call us in the newsroom at (860) 275-7272.

The executive producer is Catie Talarski. The technical producer is Chion Wolf.

Connecticut State Capitol / Wikimedia Commons

The new wave of progressive Democrats, both in the Connecticut General Assembly and in Washington, D.C., isn't waiting for the 2020 election to bring about big changes.

In Connecticut, there is emboldened optimism for increasing the state's minimum wage, like Massachusetts just did and allowing early voting, like New York, which is on the verge of enacting.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

On his first day of the job, Gov. Ned Lamont made a lot of requests.

He requested state lawmakers to not play the "blame game" and instead confront the challenge of fixing state finances head on.

Mark Pazniokas / CTMirror.org

Ned Lamont has been waiting for this day for a particularly long time.

Our next governor may slip in a few new details about his specific policy goals after he takes the oath of office on Wednesday. But Inauguration Day will mostly be a time for Lamont to set the tone of his forthcoming administration.

Amar Batra / Connecticut Public Radio

It's the New Year and, for Ned Lamont, that means there is only one week left to prepare for the day he takes over the reins of state government.

Lamont has signaled a willingness to be a consensus-builder, someone who brings together opposing viewpoints to reach effective solutions. But does he have the backbone to stand firm during the budget process when groups that propelled him into office present him with wish-lists the state can't readily afford?

Rosie O'Beirne / Creative Commons

The troubling gap between the rich and the poor in Connecticut is formidable and only getting more profound.

Studies have shown that failing to address income inequality hampers overall economic growth. So it's in everyone's interest that something is done about it. But with the state carrying the weight of massive debt payments, can we afford more programs designed to lift up those at the bottom? Can we afford not to spend more?

Chion Wolf

To absolutely no one's surprise, outgoing Governor Dannel Malloy is not letting anyone define his legacy without adding his two cents.

While speaking to the media Tuesday after the final Bond Commission meeting of his administration, Malloy struck back at those criticizing job growth in Connecticut and the level of state borrowing during his eight years in office.

CTMirror.org

Governor-elect Ned Lamont on Tuesday announced two team captains who will be tasked with helping him confront huge state budget deficits and Connecticut's tarnished business climate.

For his chief of staff, Lamont picked Ryan Drajewicz, an executive from Westport-based hedge fund behemoth Bridgewater Associates. His budget chief will be Melissa McCaw, currently the head of the city of Hartford's Office of Management, Budget and Grants.

Connecticut State Capitol / Wikimedia Commons

A narrative often repeated by Connecticut Republicans and others is that state residents are sick of the high taxes and government ineptitude, and ready to bolt to greener pastures.

But new census data isn't all doom and gloom. Out-migration trends that soiled Connecticut's reputation in recent years are dissipating, according to a Hartford Courant editorial. In certain key categories, it found recent population losses have turned into population gains.

The Future Of Connecticut's Changing Climate

Nov 21, 2018
Steve Laschever

Happy Thanksgiving! This week, The Wheelhouse is out enjoying a well-deserved break and being thankful for Colin McEnroe. We’ll be back next week giving you the latest news on all things politics in Connecticut.

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public

We’re still finding out results from last Tuesday’s elections in Connecticut and that’s not surprising, really. Some of the races were just really close. That’s probably a good thing.

Another good thing: Lots of people showing up to vote. Gigantic numbers showing up to vote in a midterm election in Connecticut and just about everywhere.

The bad thing: We still can’t seem to get this election thing right at least in our cities.

This hour, we look at possible fixes.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Upstart candidates like Connecticut's Jahana Hayes played a big role in Democrats regaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives in Tuesday's election. Hayes' victory over Republican opponent Manny Santos also kept the GOP locked out of the state's congressional delegation yet again.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

The final debate in this year's race for governor is in the rearview mirror. What did we learn Tuesday night, and what should Ned Lamont and Bob Stefanowski be most worried about before polls open just six days from now? Should it be:

  • Reaching out to those favoring Oz Griebel? A Quinnipiac Poll released Oct. 30 found 7 percent of likely voters support their unaffiliated rival. Of that group, more than half said they might jump ship at the last moment. In a close race, Griebel breakaways could put Stefanowski or Lamont on top.

Photo Phiend / Creative Commons

Which party can get to 19?

That's the number of Connecticut Senate seats that Republicans or Democrats need to win on Nov. 6 to control the legislature's upper chamber.

Right now, it's an 18-18 split. But a national Republican-funded super PAC is spending large sums of money in an attempt to change that.

In the state House of Representatives, the GOP needs just five more seats to gain the majority for the first time since 1984.

Amar Batra / Connecticut Public Radio

We can learn a lot from campaign finance reports.

In Connecticut's race for governor, they reveal that the three top contenders, Bob Stefanowski, Ned Lamont, and Oz Griebel, are all dipping deep into their own pockets to fund their campaigns. 

Two issues continue to dominate this year's race for governor: taxes and the economy.

That notion has been reinforced by the latest Quinnipiac University poll. Of the likely voters surveyed, 31% said the economy was their chief concern, while 26% said it was taxes.

Climate change wasn't even an issue listed in the poll question. It's also been left largely unaddressed by those running for governor this year.

From left, Oz Griebel, Bob Stefanowski, and Ned Lamont at a recent debate at UConn.
CTMirror.org

With the nation transfixed on the revelations pouring out of Washington, D.C., how much remaining brain capacity do voters have for Connecticut's governor's race?

It's undoubtedly hard to compete for attention against news cycles dominated by edge-of-your-seat histrionics that could shape the direction of the U.S. Supreme Court for a generation. So this week we set out to bring state politics back into focus.

Max Moran / Connecticut Public Radio

The firestorm in Washington, D.C., over the sexual misconduct charges leveled against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is tearing its way through New Haven too.

Both Kavanaugh and his latest accuser, Deborah Ramirez, attended Yale together in the 1980s. As Ramirez tells it, the lecherous behavior came during a dorm party at the university and was fueled by heavy drinking. 

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

This election cycle has been perilous for many Democratic incumbents in Congress. Just look at the primary losses of ten-term U.S. Reps. Michael Capuano and Joseph Crowley next door in Massachusetts and New York.

Yet members of Connecticut's all-Democratic congressional delegation are well on their way to being re-elected. The one exception is U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty who dropped her bid for a third term due to a singular scandal.

CTMirror.org

In recent days, Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob Stefanowski has ratcheted up the pleas for campaign donations. If more money doesn't come in quickly, he may be forced to curtail his television advertising blitz, Stefanowski's wife warned in an email to supporters.

This week, ahead of the first debate between the two major party candidates Wednesday night, we evaluate how Stefanowski and Democrat Ned Lamont are doing at this critical stage of the race, both financially and otherwise. Will the constant barrage of attack ads, from both sides, continue?

Connecticut Public Radio, The Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges, WFSB Channel 3, the CT Mirror hosted the first gubernatorial debate of the general election at the University of Saint Joseph on September 5, 2018. 

Missed the event? Listen to the audio above

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Should she win the Fifth Congressional District race on Nov. 6, Jahana Hayes would no longer be the only black female from New England elected to Congress. Ayanna Pressley, who toppled 10-term U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano in Tuesday's Democratic primary in Massachusetts' 7th District race, would hold that claim too. Unlike for Hayes, there's no Republican opposing Pressley in the general election.

This week, we gauge what Pressley's victory, and other trends suggesting this will be a big year for female candidates, means for Connecticut.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Will a second spot on the November 6 ballot be the difference maker for either Ned Lamont or Bob Stefanowski in their bid to be Connecticut's next governor?

Stefanowski, already the GOP nominee, secured the Independent Party's cross-endorsement on Sunday. Just 64 members of Connecticut's third-largest political party turned out for its caucus. A majority of them picked Stefanowski over petitioning candidate Oz Griebel and others to appear on the Independent Party ballot line.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

After four days of deliberations, a federal jury Tuesday deemed former Donald Trump campaign chairman and New Britain native Paul Manafort guilty of eight of 18 counts of tax fraud and other crimes.

This week we discuss the fallout from that verdict.

Meanwhile, here in Connecticut, the quest for Democratic and Republican party unity in the race for governor continues after the August 14 primaries.

David DesRoches / Connecticut Public Radio

Two self-funding millionaires Tuesday secured their spots at the top of the ballot in the November 6 election.

Ned Lamont, now the undisputed Democratic Party nominee for governor, trounced Joe Ganim in a race that was called by The Associated Press just 30 minutes after primary polls closed at 8 p.m.

Mark Pazniokas / CTMirror.org

In this last week before the August 14 party primaries, the debates, and endorsements--not to mention those tree-killing mailers clogging our post office boxes--are coming fast and furious.

Here's a sample of the questions we're contemplating at this critical stage:

Alyssa Hurlbut / CTMirror.org

Haddam has been at the center of an uproar ever since Selectwoman Melissa Schlag knelt during the Pledge of Allegiance at a town meeting. For Schlag, it was a way of demonstrating her disapproval of President Donald Trump and his administration's policies. For others, it was an insult to the American flag.

Ryan Caron King/Lori Mack / Connecticut Public Radio

With just three weeks before the August 14 Democratic and Republican primaries, taglines and sound bytes are all the rage in the governor's race. Positions on a substantive issue? Not so much.

Mark Pazniokas / CTMirror.org

Following his one-on-one summit Monday with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, President Donald J. Trump provoked bipartisan scorn for seemingly placing more trust with the former KGB agent than his own foreign intelligence experts over the issue of Russian interference in U.S. elections.

But how much will those condemnations influence political races here in Connecticut?

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Connecticut U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy wasted no time lambasting Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump's immediately controversial U.S. Supreme Court nominee.

CTMirror.org

Politics is definitely not for the squeamish. And this year's race for governor is only going to get nastier now that two of the three Republican hopefuls seeking public campaign financing have money to buy television ads to compete against their wealthy, self-funding GOP and Democratic rivals.

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