The emails have trickled in over the last few days. Janet Peckinpaugh is thinking about running for the 2nd District congressional seat held by Joe Courtney. She’d be running for the Republican nomination against Daria Novak (who has appeared on this blog… and was a good sport about it).
I’d better throw in some back story, because as big as Janet was you might not know who she is!
Back in the 1980s the Connecticut television news race was divided this way: Channel 3, everyone else. In this case everyone else was mainly Channel 8. Channel 30 with much less reach as a difficult to tune in UHF station was specklike. Channel 61 wasn’t yet on-the-air.
The company that owned Channel 8 made a decision to get competitive. That was gutsy because WTNH was more profitable than WFSB! It had a smaller audience but also spent a lot less. The owner, Capital Cities Communications, moved their hotshot news director, Mike Sechrist, to New Haven from Fresno. Then they opened their wallet.
Not every move Mike made worked, but one was so successful it trumped everything else (next to hiring me, of course). He hired a young, sweet looking, Janet Peckinpaugh. I seem to remember her coming from Richmond, VA–but don’t hold me to that.
I can’t explain Janet’s success except to say she had that magical “it” that make some people on TV stand out. Actually, Janet didn’t have “it” as much as she had “IT!!!.” She was vulnerable and approachable. She was very pretty but not where women didn’t wanted their husband’s watching her.
With Janet (and a rejuvenated Al Terzi) our audience grew until we caught Channel 3 at 6:00 PM–an amazing achievement.
Helaine and I were friendly with Janet. She was always very nice to me on-the-air and off. We went to her spectacular wedding atop Hartford Steam Boiler Company. It was probably the most glamorous affair I’ve ever attended.
Then, for reasons still not clear to me, Janet left and the station wallowed. Think balloon and pin!
As is often the case in TV her earlier success did not follow her up I-91.
She was later involved in an ugly lawsuit and finally anchored at Channel 30. When last I saw her on-air she was the anchor on infomercials for a mortgage company.
Am I surprised she’s considering congress? Yeah. Not that I think about Janet often, but even if I did I’d never make this leap. OK, I haven’t known her for over twenty years. Everyone changes. Maybe a smoldering political fire has finally come to life?
Maybe there’s something in the DNA of people who do what we do? I have often thought about running for Congress. I have too much respect for my incumbent congresswoman to ever seriously consider that, but the thought’s there in the abstract&185.
We all have dirty laundry. Helaine reminds me of mine all the time. Imagine if your life was poked and prodded at by an opponent who wanted you gone! I’m not sure Janet’s so special in that regard, but maybe.
When Kevin Rennie blogged about this yesterday the mean comments weren’t far behind! Her unquestioned sweetness of the 80s is now questioned.
Viewers loved Janet because she seemed vulnerable. Politics commands a thick skin. Can vulnerable and thick skin coexist? We’ll see.
¹ – After writing this entry a co-worker called me out for this paragraph. She said I made it sound like I could beat Rosa but won’t. I can see how that might be the impression. Let me clarify.
Rosa DeLauro is unbeatable in this district. Right now you would have to be a fool or extreme doctrinaire to run against her. There’s a reason few who want to serve in Congress do. There are people like Rosa already there.
To me that’s OK because I like Rosa.
God, I hope that’s more clear now.