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Date: Fri 24-Jul-1998

Date: Fri 24-Jul-1998

Publication: Bee

Author: CURT

Quick Words:

politics-Nielsen-5th-AP

Full Text:

Kennelly Pushes Family Themes As She Wins Democratic Nomination

By Evan Berland

Associated Press

HARTFORD -- Gubernatorial hopeful Barbara Kennelly, vowing to fight for

families, urged state Democrats to spread her message in an effort to light a

spark under her struggling campaign.

"Connecticut cannot keep drifting toward the future. We need new leadership to

plot a course into the next century -- and I will provide that leadership,"

Kennelly told delegates to the party's nominating convention in Hartford July

18.

Both Kennelly, an eight-term congresswoman from Hartford, and running mate

Joseph Courtney, a former state representative from Vernon, were nominated by

voice vote during the supportive, but far-from-exuberant gathering.

Kennelly faces an uphill battle against popular first-term Republican Gov.

John G. Rowland. She lags more than 20 points behind Rowland in recent polls

and has raised a shade more than $2 million, half that of the incumbent

governor.

Kennelly, taking the spotlight the day after US Sen. Christopher Dodd was

nominated to seek reelection, used her acceptance speech to make some of her

strongest attacks on Rowland to date.

"We have a governor who knows certain things, but he does not know about the

seriousness of governance. He has the style and the rhetoric but, guess what,

that's it," Kennelly told the 1,472 delegates gathered in The Bushnell

theater.

Kennelly's appearance began with a slide show of her life set to tunes "Get

Ready" and "The Way You Do The Things You Do" by the Temptations as supporters

waved the traditional placards bearing the candidate's name.

During her speech, she stuck to familiar issues: slamming the Rowland

administration for backing off on punishing some environmental polluters,

criticizing his one-time call for budget cuts to the University of Connecticut

and poking at the governor's appearance in state-funded ads that show him

boating with his wife.

"There are those who say, `Oh, things aren't so bad -- better not rock the

boat.' But this is not a canoe in a Connecticut tourism ad," Kennelly said.

She reiterated her plans to cut property taxes by 10 percent and offer college

scholarships to above-average high school students. She also continued a theme

of the Democrats' convention, where speakers have sought to diminish the GOP

role in the improving economy.

"On this Democratic road to recovery the Republicans have been hitchhikers. Of

course, that was when they weren't throwing up roadblocks," she said.

Dean Pagani, spokesman for the Rowland campaign, reversed the argument,

contending that "Democrats are working off the agenda that Gov. Rowland set."

"The reason Governor Rowland is doing so well at this point in the campaign is

because the job he's done for the last four years has changed Connecticut.

More people are working, families are making more money, there are more

businesses in this state, government has been much more responsible to what

people want," Pagani said.

Rowland is scheduled to be nominated Saturday, also at The Bushnell, by the

state GOP.