Maynard opponent finds himself in an awkward position
For Republican Kevin Trejo of Groton, the task of unseating popular state Sen. Andrew Maynard would be a difficult one under normal circumstances.
But that task has been made even harder by the uncertainty surrounding Maynard's health after he suffered serious brain trauma and other injuries in a July fall at his Stonington home. Maynard, a Democrat, is now undergoing intensive therapy at the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain.
Trejo admits that publicly criticizing the record of the four-term incumbent or questioning whether Maynard will be able to fulfill the duties of the office if re-elected would hurt his own chances.
So having raised no money to campaign, the 64-year-old Trejo said he will visit town committees and groups in the eight district towns and talk about what he would do if elected, focusing on his priorities of education, mental health and the environment. The two men are slated to debate Oct. 30 in Stonington, but it is unknown whether Maynard will be able to participate.
Trejo, who recovered from heart and liver problems this spring and underwent a quadruple bypass surgery, spoke candidly Thursday about Maynard and the unusual campaign he now finds himself in.
"If you talk negatively about him, you'll offend people," he said.
He said some from his own party have even suggested he drop out of the race and let Maynard win.
"Andy is a likeable person. I like Andy and I hope he gets 100 percent well," he said. "But I said no."
Trejo said that based on what he's read about Maynard's condition, "I personally feel he'll have some problems doing his duties for a period of time. You don't know how long it will take him to heal and if there will be any other repercussions."
Up until two weeks ago, Maynard's family had said little about his condition or prognosis. Trejo said he agreed with that approach.
"If I was his family, I would do the same. Keep his privacy private," he said.
On Sept. 9, Maynard's sister, Denise Mahoney, released a statement that said her brother continues to recover from his injuries and there is no reason to believe he would be unable to fulfill the duties of his office if he is re-elected in November.
She said he has regained consciousness, is awake and aware, and is participating in physical and occupational therapy.
She said he is able to read, eat on his own, and understand questions. He has difficulty speaking - he can answer "yes" and "no" to questions and is undergoing therapy to regain his full speech. He listens to music, manipulates a smart phone to review texts and photos, and retains his sense of humor, she wrote.
Trejo pointed to a comment Maynard made after being endorsed this summer to run for a fifth term - that he'd finally be able to start doing things to help the district because more senior legislators were leaving the General Assembly.
"What has he really done to benefit the 18th District? I'm not talking about things in New Britain or other parts of the state. I haven't seen much," he said, adding that all his decisions would be made based on how they would help his constituents.
Trejo, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., has lived in Groton for the past 25 years and is retired on disability from the U.S. Postal Service.
He is past chairman of the Groton Republican Town Committee, served one term on the Representative Town Meeting and is currently on the School Facilities Initiatives Task Force. He has also been involved in many groups that deal with educational, substance abuse and mental health issues.
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