Connecticut's Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, who ably represented
SEIU the small city of Meriden in the legislature for two decades, was the favorite for the Democratic nomination for the Fifth Congressional seat, probably the state's most moderate district.
He was the favorite, that is, until the FBI arrested his campaign's finance manager.
In all, eight people have been arrested in a scandal, including Donovan's former campaign manager, to kill a bill that would tax "roll your own" tobacco shops at a rate equivalent to their off-the-shelf competitors in return for laundered campaign donations.
The scandal led Donovan to lose his three-way race for the Democratic nomination. He placed second by about 10 percent of the vote.
However, he still has an option to continue a campaign: the Working Families line on the ballot. It is common for Democrats in Connecticut to get cross-endorsed by the WFP, but now Donovan is only once-endorsed.
Donovan will make a lot of headaches go away for Democrats and the endorsed candidate, former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty, a less liberal, suburban Democrat, if he withdraws his name from the ballot altogether.
But his loyalties lie with a certain set of Democrats. He is a former employee of SEIU, where he organized the state's community college employees against Connecticut taxpayers. He continued working for SEIU even while serving in the part-time state legislature, giving up the paid gig only when he became speaker.
In Connecticut, where unions frequently get their employees - i.e. organizers and lobbyists on the payroll of the unions, not members of the unions - elected to the legislature, there at times emerges a rift between two varieties of Democrat.
For example, in New Haven, unions affiliated with Yale University ran their own slates in the most recent city Democratic primaries, toppling many urban, liberal democrats, and replacing them with union-oriented urban, liberal Democrats.
A three-way race between Donovan, Esty and Republican state Sen. Andrew Roraback would be the latest evidence of this rift in the Connecticut Democratic Party.
The Hartford Courant even compared Donovan to Todd Akin, the controversial U.S. Senate candidate from Missouri, in an editorial:
"Nonetheless, many of Mr. Donovan's deeply ideological, blinders-on progressive and union allies want him to run for the 5th District seat on the Working Families Party ticket -- endangering the chances of Democratic nominee Elizabeth Esty.
Mr. Donovan will be remembered either as a primary election loser or as a party-wrecking sore loser. It's up to him.
It's also obvious that in Connecticut and Missouri, ideologues aren't giving pragmatism a passing thought."
An editorial in the Norwich Bulletin (outside the Fifth District) put it this way:
"Donovan's lack of knowledge of what was going on within his campaign doesn't surprise us. We have long considered the speaker, a former union organizer, to be a single-focused politician concerned only with serving the needs and the agenda of organized labor, and reaping the benefits from the support of that lone constituency."
Donovan is reportedly on vacation and will discuss his options with the Working Families Party when he returns. Many people are waiting for his decision.