Tesei running for seat on GOP’s state central committee
GREENWICH — First Selectman Peter Tesei is still working out his plans for after he leaves office in December. But one thing is certain: He will not be leaving politics behind.
Tesei will be standing for election Tuesday for a seat on the Connecticut Republican State Central Committee. The state GOP has representatives from across the state, and Greenwich is part of the 36th District, just as it is in the state Senate.
The 36th District has two seats on state central. If elected, it would make Tesei the town’s official Republican representative to the state party, linking the state organization to the local Republican Town Committee.
“As a lifelong Republican who has served our party in a political and government capacity, I can effectively represent our town’s interests at the state level,” Tesei wrote in a letter to the delegates in the 36th District. “During my almost 12-year tenure as first selectman, I have developed relationships with Republican Party leaders and officials throughout Connecticut. The efforts to save our state from the Democrats will require knowledgeable and experienced political leadership. I have that knowledge, experience and interest to help rebuild our state GOP and elect more Republicans to serve our beloved State of Connecticut.”
Tesei could not be reached for comment Wednesday. In February, Tesei announced he will not seek re-election. With 12 years in office over six terms, Tesei is the town’s longest-serving first selectman.
If elected to state central, Tesei would succeed Ed Dadakis, a former chair of the Republican Town Committee. Dadakis has been the town’s state central representative for eight years, covering four terms. And while Dadakis said he will continue to be active in the Republican Party, he said he believed in “self-imposed term limits” and decided to step away.
“It’s been a great experience,” Dadakis said. “I’ve loved every minute of it. You really get involved with what’s going on in the state and in Greenwich.”
The town’s representative to the state GOP delivers updates at every RTC meeting. Also, state central can help with databases for elections as well as connect the local party with vendors and offer other campaign assistance, Dadakis said.
“Both the RTC and state central have the same goal of electing Republicans,” Dadakis said. “Clearly, Greenwich has a history of success in doing that.”
Tesei, who is expected to be the only candidate stepping forward, has Dadakis’ full support.
“He knows all the players statewide, so he will hit the ground running,” Dadakis said. “There would be no learning curve for Peter. And that’s important because the Republican message is resonating as the Democrats raise taxes higher and higher and refuse to cut spending.
“Peter’s a great example of a leader who took responsible fiscal positions and now our town is the envy of towns and cities across America whereas Connecticut, run by Democrats, is an example of what not to do,” he said.
The GOP had few successes in last fall’s state elections. Ned Lamont, from Greenwich, was elected governor, keeping the office in Democratic hands, where it has been since 2010. Additionally, Democrats won all of the statewide offices and expanded its majority in the state House and regaining the majority in the state Senate.
Those Democratic gains in the legislature also happened in Greenwich, where state Sen. Alexandra Bergstein, D-36, became the first Democrat elected to the office in town in 90 years and state Rep. Stephen Meskers, D-150, broke a century-long Republican lock on Greenwich’s legislative delegation.
But Dadakis is bullish about the Republican chances, saying the state’s voters have “buyer’s remorse for electing so many Democrats” and will be looking to Republicans.
Last year, Tesei had a brush with state politics when he was briefly a candidate for lieutenant governor as part of a ticket with New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart during her run for governor. At the time, Tesei praised her as a candidate with the crossover appeal needed to be elected as a Republican in a Democratic city.
“At the end of the day, it’s about math. When you look at the voter base in Connecticut and you see that roughly 22 percent is affiliated Republican ... the candidate has to carry forth a Republican philosophy that is broad enough and inclusive enough to appeal to the broad spectrum of people,” Tesei said at the time of his partnership with Stewart.
Ultimately, Stewart dropped out of the gubernatorial race and instead ran for lieutenant governor, coming in second in last year’s Republican primary. Tesei did not pursue his candidacy once Stewart changed course, but he continued to support her, nominating her before the state Republican convention and campaigning with her in Greenwich.
The election for the seat on the state central committee will be held Tuesday night at Town Hall. Stamford resident Tom Lombardo is expected to continue to fill the other spot from the 36 District.
Dadakis said he had some advice for Tesei: Don’t be afraid to lead. He said Tesei has been a great leader for the past 12 years in Greenwich.
“People look to Greenwich for political and financial leadership,” Dadakis said.