How Insurgent Joe Duffey Changed Undemocratic Connecticut Politics | Chris Powell

How Insurgent Joe Duffey Changed Undemocratic Connecticut Politics |  Chris Powell

The nice guy he was, Joseph D. Duffey, who died last week at the age of 88, was not a very skilled politician. He was neither extrovert nor cheerful, but a soft-spoken Protestant pastor. But from 1967 to 1970 he was the bravest participant in Connecticut politics, and more more than anyone, he has helped to divert the state from the political machines that have long dominated it. Thanks to Duffey, Connecticut became a lot more democratic grandfather.

In 1967, the Vietnam War became controversial, costing more lives and resources without progress or convincing justification. But no Connecticut elected official, Democrat or Republican, would oppose it, just as no Democratic leader in the state would approve of Minnesota Senator Eugene J. McCarthy’s challenge to the Democratic Party’s expected re-appointment of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Duffey stepped forward to lead the McCarthy campaign in the state, and although it brought together many volunteers, they soon discovered that the process of selecting delegates to the Democratic State Convention and the Democratic National Convention had been rigged before the start of the presidential campaign.

The party’s municipal committees selected the delegates to the state convention, who would choose the delegates to the national convention. There would be no primary in which party members would voice their choice for president. AT…

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