Connecticut Republicans endorsed former State House Minority Leader Themis Klarides to challenge Democratic U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal in November, but she will still face a primary after two conservative rivals received enough delegate support on Saturday.
About 50 miles away, Connecticut Democrats endorsed incumbent Governor Ned Lamont and running mate Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz for a second term, praising the team’s efforts during the coronavirus pandemic and helping pass a reduction in tax of about $600 million in the recent one-year revised state budget.
Klarides, 56, the first woman to lead the GOP House caucus, was the frontrunner for the two-day GOP convention after receiving public endorsement from some top Republicans. She urged the party on Saturday to rally around her candidacy after garnering nearly 57% of delegate votes.
“Let’s get together and turn Connecticut red,” she told the Foxwoods Resort Casino crowd.
But Leora Levy, a conservative from Greenwich and member of the state’s Republican National Committee, and Peter Lumaj, a conservative and lawyer from Fairfield, each won more than the 15% delegate support needed to force a primary. Levy, who has raised over $1 million, has made it clear she will not back out of the race.
“I’m 100% invested in this. I invested a lot of my own money, way more than my opponent,” she told The Associated Press. “I’m here for the end. Either way, I’ll let the Republican voters in the state of Connecticut decide who their candidate will be to take on Dick Blumenthal. We need to put in place someone who is actually a Republican.
Lumaj said he planned to run in the August primaries, saying the target would be Blumenthal. He said he was not pressured to drop out of the race.
“I want to make sure that if I get to the United States Senate, we have someone who has the backbone, the character and the courage to stand up for the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence,” he said. .
Klarides describes herself as a “loud-mouthed Greek girl” who grew up in an immigrant family in search of the American dream and says she can win over voters in the Democratic-leaning state. With moderate stances on social issues, such as support for abortion and gay rights, Klarides, who lives in Madison, also considers herself a fiscal conservative who believes freedoms are being ‘eroded’ in the United States. .
“Today in the U.S. Senate, statesmanship has taken precedence over spirit of play. Core values and guiding principles are being replaced by cheap political rhetoric,” she said. “Liberty and individual responsibility are being squeezed out by government overreach, oppressive mandates, canceling culture, and economic policies that make it harder every day for families to achieve that American Dream.”
Blumenthal, 76, who received the Democratic endorsement on Friday, described the race in stark terms, saying civil rights and the rights of women and workers are at stake.
“We went through tough battles. We know that these fights lie ahead and that the soul of democracy is at stake,” he told delegates. “We are at the time of breaking the glass in this democracy.”
Meanwhile, at the Democratic convention on Saturday, Lamont, 68, touted what he sees as Connecticut’s financial comeback during his first term. This follows years of budget deficits, spending cuts and state hiring freezes.