Connecticut Republicans on Wednesday embraced the recent conservatism that Leora Levy of Greenwich harnessed to win the party’s U.S. Senate nomination in a low-turnout primary election.
They hope to build on Levy’s momentum in a fall campaign with a statewide and congressional ticket that ties U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the state’s congressional delegation and Gov. Ned Lamont with the Democratic president Joe Biden.
But Democrats see Levy’s narrow 10-point victory over moderate Themis Klarides of Madison as a sign of weakness to be exploited this fall in a blue state where it has been 24 years since the last Republican in the US Senate and a dozen years since it was there. a republican governor.
During a call Wednesday with Connecticut reporters through the Republican National Committee, Ben Proto, state GOP chairman, highlighted the diversity of the candidates who won their primaries on Tuesday. He declined to comment on the significance of Trump’s endorsement in the final campaign of Levy, who opposes abortion. In a series of responses to questions from reporters, he directed his responses to the record of Democrats and Biden.
“You’re trying to equate a former president, who hasn’t been president for two years, to a party that talks about the economy, how to make Connecticut a more competitive place, how to make sure your jobs are in place and we know that the Democrats have failed at that, and Ned Lamont has failed at that,” Proto said. “Look, it’s the old adage: We’ll distract people from the real issues.”
At a news conference Wednesday morning in Hartford, Gov. Ned Lamont and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz said they were surprised that Connecticut Republicans had voted so convincingly for a Trump-backed candidate and tried to draw a connection between the former president and the most prominent. Republicans on the ballot in Connecticut this November.
Several times, Lamont held up three fingers together and said Trump, Levy and Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski “are like that.” According to the Federal Electoral CommissionStefanowski, a business consultant, contributed more than $7,800 to Levy’s campaign.
“Our Republican opponents like to say that Donald Trump is not on the ballot this November, but I think somebody forgot to tell Donald Trump that,” Lamont said. “It’s front and center on the ballot.”
The governor lamented what he sees as the demise of “compassionate conservatives,” in favor of a new brand of Trump-influenced Republicans.
“There is nothing compassionate about this next generation of Republicans who are taking over the Republican Party, even in Connecticut,” Lamont said. “I’m shocked. I didn’t think it would happen here in Connecticut.”
Stefanowski, in a statement Wednesday morning, steered clear of social issues, which is a likely harbinger of the state GOP’s campaign tactics.
“As the Republican candidate for governor, I will continue to focus on reversing Ned Lamont’s tax increases that have made his good friend Joe Biden’s inflation even worse, working with our police to crack down on crime and return the power to parents to raise their children as they see fit,” Stefanowski said. “Expect Governor Lamont to continue to do what he did this morning, putting politics over people, focusing on imaginary ballots instead of the person in Connecticut who can’t afford to buy groceries today or the family that will go to bed tonight worried about it. they will be the next victim of an unprecedented crime wave in Connecticut.”
While Stefanowski reiterated in a new video Wednesday that he supports women’s reproductive rights, he has said he believes trainees should be warned when teenagers seek abortions.
Lamont said he hopes his campaign will attract unaffiliated voters and moderate Republicans who are unhappy with the party’s turn toward Trumpism. On fiscal issues, the governor touted policies that typically appeal to conservatives, such as his balancing the state budget, paying down the state debt and his support for local businesses.
On social issues, however, Lamont and Bysiewicz marked a stark contrast between the Democratic and Republican tickets. Bysiewicz noted that Stefanowski has spoke approvingly of Trump’s presidencywas endorsed by the National Rifle Association in 2018 and has offered mixed signals about his views on abortion rights.
“We’re very proud of our team, and it’s a very stark contrast to the other team,” Bysiewicz said. “Because the other team has been in step with Donald Trump.”
Lamont also called out both Stefanowski and Levy for what he sees as inconsistency in their policy positions. Levy, a longtime GOP insider and fundraiser, has embraced the Trump wing of the party in his current campaign, while Stefanowski has appeared to moderate his views this election cycle after running a more conservative, but losing four years ago.
“Four years ago [Stefanowski] she was a strong Trumpster, now she’s trying to reinvent herself as Jeb Bush,” Lamont said. “Four years ago, Leora Levy was a big supporter of Jeb Bush, now she’s reinventing herself as a Trumpster.”
At an election watch party Tuesday night, Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo said she believes Connecticut voters are “tired of Donald Trump” and that Republicans’ embrace of the former president could help the Democrats in November.
“It’s clear that the Republican Party is moving in a very different direction than you would expect here in Connecticut,” he said.
In a brief statement Wednesday, Blumenthal’s campaign said, “Leora Levy is Donald Trump’s choice. Dick Blumenthal is the senator from Connecticut” while Levy is out of the mainstream.
“She opposes a woman’s right to make her own health decisions,” Blumenthal’s campaign said. “She opposes common sense gun safety measures. And she supports calling January 6th ‘legitimate political speech.’
Blumenthal, in a fundraising email Wednesday, called Levy “Trump’s handpicked nominee in the general election — a radical Republican who will be nothing more than a rubber stamp on Mitch McConnell’s disastrous agenda.”