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Labeled a ‘Spoiler’ by Some, Third-Party Connecticut Candidate Aims for Shake-Up

“I found myself moving back into the political fray as a way to talk about the problems that I saw," says Pelto. (For complete 2014 midterm coverage, get your campaign fix on The Grid.)

TG Branfalt Jr.


July 27, 2014 - 12:00 am
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Former Connecticut state Representative Jonathan Pelto is running for governor, but he says he isn’t interested in getting back into politics full time.

“I see this as an effort to make a run for governor, really try to shake things up, try to change the debate,” he said. “If that doesn’t work then I’ll go back to the private sector and make enough money to pay my bills.”

Paying those bills is just one of the reasons Pelto entered the race. Tax and education reform top the list of other reasons why the former legislator is petitioning to appear on the November ballot under the banner of the Education and Democracy Party. Creating the party is sort of an about face for a man who once stuffed envelopes for George McGovern and served as a Democrat in the state legislature for nine years, three of those spent as the party’s political director.

Pelto resigned mid-term from his seat in 1993, and not at the urging of his party, or because of his age, or amid scandal. He had just welcomed his daughter, Mara, into the world and wanted to not only focus on being a father, but also focus on how he would provide for her in the future.

“$27,000 wasn’t enough to raise a family,” he said. “Secondly, politics and family life often clash.”

Pelto explains that it was a conversation with a colleague — who told him that he had missed five of his own daughters’ dance recitals — that helped him make the decision to resign at 32 years old.

Since resigning, Pelto has worked in the private sector, more specifically in public and government relations. He also owned a retail store with his wife, Nicole. Mara is now in college and his younger daughter is in high school. Pelto said since leaving the legislature he has experienced the struggle as a middle-class parent trying to make ends meet, while ensuring that his children get a quality education.

Via his blog “Wait What?” he began airing his grievances. Since its launch in January 2011, the site has had almost 1.5 million visitors and, he says, is the most widely read politics commentary site in the state.

It was writing about politics that brought him back onto the campaign trail.

“I realized that just writing about it was not enough to change the policies,” Pelto explained. “I found myself moving back into the political fray as a way to talk about the problems that I saw — the things the government wasn’t doing.”

Pelto says that education reform was the “primary focus” of the blog when he first launched it three years ago, but it has evolved its focus on broader issues — tax reform, transparency, corporate welfare — while becoming the popular stop for Connecticut constituents.

Although he has identified as a Democrat since he first registered to vote at 18, he has made ousting Gov. Dan Malloy, a Democrat, the goal in his return to politics. He sees Malloy as a fragment of a larger issue, a problem he identifies as an “incumbency party”– one of the two parties are always in control and the differences in the party philosophies are becoming harder to differentiate.

Pelto says that the national ideals of liberalism and conservatism are changing throughout the U.S. and efforts to repeal Common Core — a keystone in his campaign — are being carried out by activists on both sides of the aisle, which is partly the reason why he started his own party.

“People say, ‘Well, you walked away from the Democratic Party,’” he said. “Well, the Democratic Party walked away from us.”

Malloy, Pelto says, has turned the tax screws on the middle class and adopted what he calls “absurd, unfair, expensive … and wasteful” education policies in the Common Core and teacher evaluation programs.

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All Comments   (7)
All Comments   (7)
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I'm not from CT but just my two cents:

Support unions, support tenure, tax the rich. This is a shake up?

Calling any tax code in the US "perfectly regressive" - shows that he is willing to lie and exaggerate just like the people he criticizes.

Sounds like you ought to keep the weasel you know rather than the one you don't.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Anyone who takes votes away from a Republican making them unelectable in the general is a spoiler. He can't win. He can only make the Republican lose. You run against the Republican in the primary. If you fail you fall in line. This "screw the establishment" attitude is laudable in the Primary and suicide in the general. That's just a fact.

Now, he used to be a Democrat, so likely he is a useful idiot rather than a conventional spoiler,
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you fail, fall in line?

Nope, Dem or Dem lite is not a choice. Vote your principles or your nothing but a useful idiot AND you will not get eaten last. Just ask the Bolshei...
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah yeah yeah...because there is no difference...blah blah blah.

Grow the f*ck up.

I'm a libertarian, but I will never be a member of the Libertarian Party because they can't elect a dog catcher. You can live in fantasyland or you can work to save this country. I would bet money that for all your Dem or Dem Lite griping you have never been to a local Republican Party meeting or to a caucus or convention in your state. It's easy to come on PJ Media and talk real big, but this is work for grown ups. The Ron Paul people are a little nutty but they SHOWED UP and now there is a serious groundswell for Rand Paul that they tilled the field for. They pushed just as hard as they could for their guy, but then they stayed when he lost and now they have standing in the party,

I am so sick of this let the country burn if I don't get my own way defeatist crap. Pick up your ball and go home, your assistance is not required.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Okay, all you Connecticut Yankees chime in here. The author seems to make it clear that Jon Pelto does not fit the standard spoiler mold as a minor local player from nowhere who suddenly throws his hat in the ring with mysterious campaign funding sources and starts mouthing libertarian rhetoric. The hired third party spoiler stooge has become a reliable Soros-weapon to throw elections in recent years. Nevertheless, this man seems to have a genuine backgrouknd going back twenty years. As explained here, he has not made his living in politics his entire adult life and he has seemingly come to his current opinions gradually and publicly.

So what do we know about incumbent Malloy and (likely) challenger Tom Foley?
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
As a CT voter, I don't see where this guy stands a chance to even 'shake things up'. Foley is anti-common core, and frankly his chances are not that great to begin with except for the hope that he will get in and repeal the unconstitutional gun registration legislation that was passed over a year ago.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually he was a state rep until the age of 32 as stated in the article.

I think he is exactly as he says he is. He wants to do more than blog about the problem of Nanny state type govt and the very real killing of the middle class in the bluest of blue states.

Good luck to him. As long as the Federal govt can spread the cost to red states to the benefit of blue states the theft and murder of the middle class will continue.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
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