Greenwich’s delegation to Hartford rallies GOP at clambake
GREENWICH — For more than a century, Republicans have had a lock on Greenwich’s delegation to Hartford — and the slate of four candidates for re-election don’t want that changing any time soon.
Those legislative candidates — state Sen. L. Scott Frantz, R-36, and state Reps. Livvy Floren, Michael Bocchino and Fred Camillo —joined GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Stefanowski and other Republican candidates for statewide offices in rallying party members at the annual Cos Cob Republican Club and Republican Town Committee clambake Sunday afternoon.
But the annual clambake, which had a theme of “Take Back Connecticut,” came a year after Greenwich Democrats scored unexpected victories — including taking control of the Board of Estimate and Taxation for the first time in recorded history.
But RTC Chairman Richard DiPreta said he wasn’t worried about the outcome in November for the incumbent Republicans, who have gained support in past elections from voters of all parties as well as from unaffiliated voters.
“It’s a changing political climate, and campaigning has changed — locally, statewide and nationally,” DiPreta said. “I think the view is to push the reset button and make sure that people know the great accomplishments of our state senator and our state reps. We can’t make assumptions that all of the hard work and all of the gains (the Republican delegation) has made over the years are known. We are pushing out that message of what they’ve done and why it’s so important to send them back to Hartford.”
He cited the delegation’s work to keep taxes low, to secure state reimbursement for the New Lebanon School project and to make gains in turning around the state’s fiscal situation, particularly in the state budget.
All of the local candidates attended Sunday’s clambake, which drew a crowd of more than 300 to Greenwich Point. In their speeches, they pushed support for Stefanowski and the others at the top of the ticket while stressing their own accomplishments in Hartford.
Frantz praised the two bipartisan state budgets that the Greenwich delegation helped to pass in the last eight months. He pointed to the inclusion of major Republican priorities included in those budgets — a spending cap, a bonding cap and the re-establishment of a rainy day fund in the state.
“The voters finally get it,” he said. “They’re sick and tired of majority party rule and single party rule. … Look at what we’ve gotten done. There’s been nothing quite like this in multiple generations. It is so terrific for all of you who pay taxes and live in the state of Connecticut.”
Frantz is facing a challenge from Democrat Alexandra Bergstei. Democrat Laura Kostin is running against Camillo in the 151st District, and in the 150th, Bocchino is facing off against Democrat Stephen Meskers.
Democrats may be trying to link Republicans to President Donald Trump, Camillo said. But voters know the main problem for the past eight years has been the leadership of Gov. Dannel Malloy, who is not running for re-election, and the Democrats in the legislature, he said.
“They have driven this state into a ditch, and now (Democrats) are doing everything they can to get away from that record,” Camillo said. “All we ask is you talk about our records and our visions for going forward. We have stopped a lot of tax increases these past two years and have fought for a phaseout of taxes on pensions, a phaseout of taxes on Social Security and pushed the estate tax exclusion level from $2 million up to the federal mark now. These are all things that will help people stay in the state of Connecticut.”
In his remarks, Bocchino stressed a theme that was also put forth by Stefanowski and GOP comptroller candidate Kurt Miller about the importance of Republican victories in the legislature. In the Senate, the party breakdown is at a tie. In the House, Democrats who once had a veto-proof majority now only have a slim majority.
“We need to get rid of people who support Dan Malloy’s policies and will do the same for (Democratic gubernatorial candidate) Ned Lamont,” Bocchino said. “We need to take majority rule. … This is a critical moment here in the state of Connecticut. This is our time.”
Floren, who running unopposed, promised to campaign for her fellow Republicans on the ballot and called them the “most exciting team I’ve ever worked with.”
Supporting the entire Republican ticket was a major theme of the clambake. In addition to calls for financial help, the party handed out lawn signs, bumper stickers, mugs and magnets for the candidates — and even “I Like Mike” totebags to support Bocchino.
By not taking anything for granted in the fall, DiPreta said Republicans in town are more energized than ever.
“For a long time, Greenwich Republicans didn’t really have to work as hard,” he said. “We’ve won a lot of elections by large majorities in the past, and we’re seeing that changing. We’re not making any assumptions that we don’t have to work hard, and it’s motivating to see that we need to work hard to get our message out.”