Republicans lose on their own

Connecticut Republicans think they have their best chance ever to defeat perennial winner Richard Blumenthal, who’s running for his third term in the U.S. Senate, following five terms as Connecticut’s attorney general.

But, with a little help from their right wing, they’re doing  all they can to keep it from happening.

It must be said that even in this off year election, Connecticut’s Democrats do enjoy most of the advantages. There are a lot more of them and a lot more unaffiliated voters too. The Republicans haven’t sent anyone to the Senate or House in 16 years and have lost every statewide contest since then as well.

But 2022 is also looking more and more like a Republican year in lots of unusual places—maybe even deep blue Connecticut.   

So the Republicans have a chance, even against a candidate as popular as Blumenthal. A protégé of the late Governor and Senator Abe Ribicoff, Blumenthal was a successful U.S. attorney for Connecticut, winning highly publicized prosecutions of organized crime, civil rights, white collar and drug cases before serving in both houses of the General Assembly in the ‘80s.

As the state’s most successful vote getter, he was often mentioned as a potential candidate for governor during his 20 years as attorney general, but he chose to run for the Senate instead when Chris Dodd retired in 2010.

But Blumenthal could be facing a new issue in this election — his age. By an interesting coincidence, he was born Feb. 13, 1946, just four months before baby Donald Trump came into the world on June 14 of that first postwar year.

Much has been made — and rightly so — of the fact that if Trump is reelected president in 2024, he will be 82 when his term ends in 2028. If 76-year-old Blumenthal is reelected senator this year, he will also be 82 when his six-year term ends in 2028.

The state’s  Republicans have nominated a strong candidate to challenge Blumenthal in November, the former House minority leader Themis Klarides.  A veteran legislator and tough campaigner, Klarides also comes with some interesting baggage.

She’s s a traditionally conservative Republican on most issues, with two notable — and timely — exceptions. She supports  abortion rights and gun control.

And, there’s this:  She didn’t vote for Donald Trump in 2020 — or for Joe Biden. Instead, she wrote in the name of an old colleague as a protest.

These departures from Republican regularity didn’t prevent an impressive 59% of the delegates to the party convention from endorsing her for the Senate race.

But two Donald Trump devotees, Leora Levy of Greenwich and Peter Lumaj of Fairfield, split the rest of the vote, giving them both the convention votes they needed  to challenge Klarides for the nomination in an August primary.

Neither of them has ever been elected to anything and a recent poll showed each of them would lose to Blumenthal by 16 points. (In the same poll, Klarides would lose by 10.)

But both Levy and Lumaj should be able to attract financial support from the right.  Levy is an especially skillful fund raiser — so skillful that a grateful Trump nominated her to be ambassador to Chile but the Senate never took up the nomination.

Klarides currently has more than $8 million in campaign contributions on hand, but she’ll have to spend some or a lot of it battling her two Republican opponents.  They have little to no chance of defeating her but a grand opportunity, in an expensive and bitter primary, to make it harder for her to beat Blumenthal.

And that, boys and girls, is how Republicans are doing their best to keep Republicans from actually winning in Connecticut.

 

Simsbury resident Dick Ahles is a retired journalist. Email him at rahles1@outlook.com.

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