Unofficial results — but including in-person voting, and absentee and early drop-off ballots — show Westporters favoring Democrats in every contest yesterday.
The Biden-Harris presidential ticket outpolled Trump=Pence, 12,775 to 4,184.
Congressman Jim Himes was re-elected to his 7th term in the 4th District, helped by 11,968 Westport votes to challenger Jonathan Riddle’s 4,881.
In Connecticut’s 26th Senatorial district, Will Haskell won a 2nd term, aided by 10,230 Westport votes to 4,721 for Republican Kim Healy.
Democrat Michelle McCabe outpolled Republican incumbent Tony Hwang 1,198 to 843 in Westport. But results in the rest of the State Senate District 28 came in slowly, and as of 5 a.m. today, McCabe’s lead in the entire district was less than 100 votes. That outcome is uncertain.
Six-term state Representative Jonathan Steinberg beat back a challenge from fellow Staples High School graduate Chip Stephens, with 10,446 Westport votes compared to 5,266 in the 136th District.
Democrat Stephanie Thomas led Patricia Zukaro , 753 to 480, in Westport. Final results from the entire District 143 are not yet in.
Overall, more than 85 percent of Westport’s registered voters participated in the 2020 election, either by mail, drop-off or in person.
Ryan Hartmann spotted 3 dolphins just a couple of miles off Cockenoe Island.
Here’s a screenshot of them playing alongside his boat. Click here for a minute-long video on Facebook Live.
The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce does windows.
Saturday, October 24 — one week before Halloween — is the date for the town’s Window Painting Contest. Westport students can sign up to request a merchant’s window, or be assigned one. They’ll decorate it, and judges will pick winners in 3 categories: Scariest Artwork, Best Halloweeen Theme, and Most Original.
There are different divisions for elementary, middle and high school.
Winners — who supply their own water-based paint, drop cloths and brushes, and clean up after themselves — receive a $25 gift certificate from Donut Crazy.
I thought the most obnoxious robocall was the constant “courtesy call” from someone who had been “trying to reach” me about my (non-existent) automobile warranty.
But that’s almost welcome compared to the daily barrage from (supposedly) the presidential campaigns.
Every day I am assaulted by calls from both sides. The voice sounds the same — and for some reason, all I can think of is George H.W. Bush.
The scripts are similar too: How great the Biden (or Trump) ticket is, as opposed to the awful other side.
Then comes the kicker: Contribute $35. Or $5,000.
And — of course — the acknowledgment that this group with a made-up-but-official-sounding name has no affiliation with the actual campaigns.
It’s a scam. Don’t fall for it. If you want your money to get to Joe Biden, click here. For Donald Trump, click here.
And speaking of politics:
An “06880” reader received an anonymous letter, addressed to “Our Neighbors.” It says:
We have been hesitant to contact you but as the number of signs in your yard has grown, we felt we must reach out. We are writing not about the content of the signs displayed on your front lawn but about the quantity of signs.
This note has no reference to politics; everyone has the right to their beliefs and to the expression of those beliefs. However, your one sign has now blossomed into ten and frankly it is an eye sore to the neighborhood.
Our request is simply that you choose two of the signs to display in front and either display the others elsewhere or remove them altogether. Your consideration of this proposal is greatly appreciated.
The homeowner’s response: “Cowards!”
And finally … Johnny Nash died Tuesday. He was 80. But songs like this will long endure:
Alert “06880” reader/curious explorer/noted journalist Scott Smith writes:
Westport 06880 has many blessings. But we don’t have a charming, white-washed covered bridge built in 1880. We also lack a soaring water tower with our name splashed across the top. And a Dollar General store.
These are the chief landmarks of Westport 47283, a small farming community surrounded by miles of corn and soybean fields in south-central Indiana.
The Westport, Indiana covered bridge.
I passed through that Westport recently on my way back from a road trip out West. Eager to leave behind endless Zoom meetings, I settled on a route that would take me to the most COVID-free part of the country – chiefly, Badlands National Park and the Black Hills of South Dakota.
A close encounter with Devil’s Tower across the border in Wyoming and a sublime drive back through the Sand Hills of my native Nebraska were among many other roadside attractions along the way.
Welcome to Westport, Indiana.
I did not spot another Connecticut license plate the whole 10 days. So here are 3 observations for state residents from what’s known as flyover country to some, and the heartland to others.
First, this large part of America truly is a landscape of vast scale and industrial agricultural enterprise. I passed a thousand miles of cropland — mostly corn and soybeans — planted in tight rows extending as far as the eye could see (or pivot irrigation could reach).
Lush green pastures were dotted with countless supersized rolls of hay destined to fatten up cows for beef. This is the breadbasket of the world, and we should all be proud of that. I know our farmers are.
Yet though the fruits of their labors are so evident, I saw hardly any people working the fields. One 30-foot-wide, GPS-guided combine can cover a lot of ground.
Town Hall in Westport, Indiana.
Using interstates to connect with state roads and scenic byways, I was struck by the vast, beige buildings of corrugated steel roofs and aluminum siding, as large in scope as the mega farming and just as strangely absent of people.
Often they’re depots for Walmart or other distribution conglomerates, with scores of truck bays. The manufacturing facilities stand out with their networks of pipes and conveyors taking in resources and exhaust vents belching things out. Who knows what goes on inside these gargantuan structures, save for a small sign out front that typically sports an acronym followed by “Industries.”
It’s big business to be sure, but not a lot of local jobs, at least of the kinds that kept this swath of America thriving for generations. I passed dozens of small towns with Dollar General at one end of town, and a convenience store (usually with a name like Whoa ‘n’ Go or Pause ‘n’ Pump) selling gas, beer and junk food at the other.
In between, invariably, was a Main Street or “Historic Downtown District” composed of brick buildings boarded up long ago, or given over to a social agency or someone trying to make a go of a curio shop.
A boarded up building in Westport, Indiana.
With ornate facades, and scrolled dates and names of their founders across the sturdy lintels, these landmarks are ghostly echoes of the tin sheds and warehouses on the outskirts of town that long ago replaced them.
Westport 47283 (population 1,379) seems to be doing better than many small Midwestern towns. Though many of the big old buildings are shuttered, they’ve still got a Dairy Queen.
The Dollar General — and Dairy Queen.
The next “woe is Westport” lament I hear about our own town’s retail fortunes, I’ll be thinking of the identical rack of brightly hued ladies and children’s summer fashions I kept noticing stationed outside the front door of the dozens of Dollar General stores I passed driving through these hamlets. If cheap had a smell, I would’ve had to roll the windows up.
This is MAGA Country, to be sure. I drove by Trump stores in four states, including a large, Trump-bespoked RV set up in the parking lot of the Wounded Knee Museum (commemorating a massacre of Lakota Indians by the U.S. Cavalry; think about that). I don’t recall seeing one Biden lawn sign in 4,700 miles, though I was pleased to see a plurality of Black Lives Matters signs on the tidy block in Omaha where my grandparents lived from the 1920s to 1970.
A Trump banner, near the Westport, Indiana water tower. (Photos/Scott Smith)
Point is, the voters in Westport, Indiana, and in all the rural towns beyond, while not large in number anymore, hold more electoral sway than us here in 06880 or in blue states. While I can’t fathom why they’ve put their faith in the poseur populist that is our current President, seeing what they’ve lost and what remains, I can imagine why the fellow in Westport 47283 with the big Trump flag on his front porch would take a flyer on the promise to make his America great again.
They live all over the country. They’ve served under Republican and Democratic presidents. They’ve been United States attorneys, federal prosecutors and other high-ranking officials.
There are nearly 2,600 of them, and they’re unanimous in their belief: President Trump is abusing the power of his office. He and Attorney General William P. Barr are threatening the Department of Justice’s long tradition of impartiality. They want Barr to resign.
Among the signees: Westporter Kristan Peters-Hamlin.
The RTM member — now an attorney in private practice — spent many years in the Washington, DC US Attorney’s office.
She was appointed by Richard Thornburgh, attorney general for President George H.W. Bush.
President Clinton with Kristan Peters-Hamlin.
Hamlin continued serving under Barr — during his first stint as AG — and Janet Reno, President Clinton’s first pick for that post.
Eric Holder — President Obama’s attorney general — was a boss of Hamlin’s in the DC office. Robert Mueller was a colleague.
She prosecuted drug and economic crimes, along with many others.
In the Bush administration, Hamlin says, Barr “seemed like a normal attorney general. There was zero political interference.”
These days, she says, former colleagues “don’t recognize him. It’s like he’s been transmogrified.”
The letter Hamlin signed circulated among a network of former DOJ employees. The signatories share Hamlin’s outrage and sadness at what has happened to the department they love.
“The idea of the federal judiciary being able to check the executive branch goes back to John Marshall,” she notes.
When she read the letter (click here for the full text), she agreed wholeheartedly.
Still, she hesitated momentarily before signing.
“This is a president who retaliates,” she says. “And an attorney general who enables retaliation.”
She wondered about potential consequences for her. Ultimately, she realized, “This was a love letter to my colleagues. We revere the Department of Justice. We’re not willing to see it polluted and corrupted. And there are plenty of people who have sacrificed a lot more than I have to keep it impartial.”
So far, there have been no adverse reactions.
However, the Connecticut Law Journal asked for comment.
And Congressman Jim Himes thanked Hamlin — and the 3 other signees from his district — for “standing up for the rule of law.”
Roger Ailes has been called the man most responsible for making Donald Trump president of the United States.
On June 30 — when Showtime begins a 7-part series about the Fox TV CEO/ media consultant who died in May 2017, a year after resigning following allegations of sexual harassment — the man who may be most responsible for that show is native Westporter Gabe Sherman.
“The Loudest Voice” — Showtime’s they-said-it-couldn’t-be-made series — is based on Sherman’s 2014 book, “The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News – and Divided a Country.” That too was a book “they” said could never be written.
In both cases, Ailes’ purported wide-ranging, all-encompassing clout was said to forestall any attempt to tell his story.
Sherman knew what he was doing. He was educated through grade 10 in Westport schools. After graduating from Holderness School in New Hampshire and Middlebury College (2001), he spent 10 years writing for New York magazine (including a stint as national affairs editor).
He’s now a special correspondent for Vanity Fair, and a regular contributor to NBC News and MSNBC.
Sherman first began covering Ailes for New York Magazine. The media mogul was not pleased.
“Anything I touched, they waged war at me,” Sherman told The Hollywood Reporter.
When Sherman got a Random House contract to write his book, Ailes hired private detectives to trail him. Ailes also had a 400-page dossier drawn up on the writer.
Sherman’s revenge: In 2016, he got the scoop that Fox owner Rupert Murdoch was orchestrating Ailes’ departure.
Gabriel Sherman covered Roger Ailes — the man perhaps most responsible for making Donald Trump president — extensively.
Three years later, the adaptation of Sherman’s book is set to debut on TV — the medium that Ailes once ruled, and used so powerfully during Trump’s presidential campaign.
Sherman is ready — for both the series, and its ending.
He says, “In addition to the world getting to see our show” — his wife Jennifer Stahl shares a writing and producing credit — “we’re really ready for this chapter of our lives to be over. This is the end of the Roger Ailes story.”
(For the full Hollywood Reporter story on Gabriel Sherman and the Showtime series, click here.)
Donald Trump’s election took a lot of people by surprise. Many were “paralyzed or scared,” says Cayla Yang.
“I don’t do well with those emotions,” says the 2009 Staples High School graduate. “I’m not like, ‘woe is me.’ I’m more, ‘what can I do?'”
Cayla — a Staples field hockey player and yearbook editor who graduated from Northeastern University and now lives in Weston, while working as a consultant for a cloud computing company — always assumed that politicians would take care of her.
Now she’s not so sure.
But instead of paralysis, she chose action.
In the aftermath of Trump’s win, she reached out to Pantsuit Nation. The group of nearly 4 million (mostly) women had used Facebook to share stories of their support for Hillary Clinton. After her loss, it became a place to vent, express fears and frustrations, and find hope.
It also spun off local organizations, where (mostly) women began working together to do more than talk.
The Fairfield County group is called PSNCT — Pantsuit Nation without the actual name. And Cayla is one of its leaders.
“Telling stories is incredibly important. But this group is about advocacy,” Cayla says. “It’s about issues, concerns, and how to help.”
PSNCT has forged connections with politicians. A recent Town Hall meeting with Senator Chris Murphy in Bridgeport was “fantastic,” Cayla says.
Congressman Jim Himes came to an early PSNCT meeting. He discussed his priorities, and offered his assistance.
A photo posted to the PSNCT Facebook page shows a statue of PT Barnum in Bridgeport, “supporting” Saturday’s women’s march on Washington.
“We’ll do local fundraisers, and put our money where our mouth is,” Cayla promises.
“We recognize we have a privileged position here in Fairfield County. We want to use our influence to help people and organizations that don’t have our resources.”
Though Pantsuit Nation was created by Hillary Clinton supporters, Cayla says, “we shy away from labels. We want Republicans like Gail Lavielle and Toni Boucher” — state legislators representing this area — “to speak to us, and break down barriers.” Rep. Tony Hwang — a Republican state senator — attended Murphy’s Town Hall session.
As Inauguration Day looms, Cayla says PSNCT is focused on the days after.
“We’re looking to do good, and do it well,” she says.
(Click here for the PSNCT Facebook page. Hat tip: Julia McNamee)
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