“Mission Impossible:” keeping politics out of politics

If you don’t think the term “spy” is overworked in this age where a president of the United States is attacking federal law enforcement, consider what should be a quiet state house race in eastern Connecticut.

State Rep. Melissa Ziobron, a libertarian Republican from East Haddam, is campaigning for the state Senate seat that is being vacated by Sen. Art Linares, who is seeking the GOP nomination for state treasurer in the August 14 primary.

So Ziobron recruited Irene Haines, an insurance agent and a founder of both the East Haddam News and the Colchester Civic Orchestra whose political experience has included bipartisan work for local schools and a arce for first selectman. Haines has discovered that emails can boomerang back at you.

Last week she sent out emails that reached Democrats who are partisan enough to share it. The subject line says “Melissa is looking for a spy.” It starts out asking after the health of the recipient. It eventually inquires whether the recipient had planned to attend an open meeting of local Democrats.

“But to the spy mission should you choose to accept,” Haines wrote. “There’s a meeting this weekend that Dems are putting on about knocking on doors. Any chance you were already going??”

Contacted a couple days later, Haines pleaded partial innocence and copped some guilt. “I’m new to this,” she said over the phone. “I don’t know anything about the whole politics game. I contacted someone I thought was a friend. That’s all it is. It was definitely wasn’t much more than Mission Impossible.” She said she’s looking forward to serving in the House of Representatives. “We’ve got a mess and we have to fix it.”

Ziobron said she’s been busy knocking on doors in the largely suburban and rural district to focus on what her opponents might be doing. “It has nothing to do with me,” she said over the phone. “I would assume it’s a public meeting. I kind of laughed when I saw ‘mission impossible,’” she said, presumably referring to a similar-but-separate email with that subject line.

She conceded that Haines might have been “a little naive” and that “maybe some people are not your friends.”

kdixon@ctpost.com Twitter: @KenDixonCT

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