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Some of region's GOP candidates distance themselves from Trump

In the wake of a recently released video showing Donald Trump making lewd comments about women, some of the region's Republican candidates for the state legislature have denounced their party's presidential nominee, while other candidates said they will continue to support him.

Still others remained undecided Monday about whom they are supporting — or avoided the question altogether and said they are entirely focused on Connecticut's issues.

Nationally, a growing number of Republican politicians have spoken out against Trump or withdrawn support, after a 2005 video of Trump was released on Friday, according to the Associated Press.

Locally, state Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, issued a statement Saturday that said: "In light of this last straw and with apologies to my wonderful daughters and women everywhere, Mr. Trump has gone too far. These are not comments that should be made by anyone, especially a candidate for President of the United States of America. All women are to be respected, not treated like objects." 

Formica said he can't continue to support Trump but also couldn't support Democrat Hillary Clinton. He added that there are "other choices on the ballot."

In a statement Saturday, Heather Somers, the Republican candidate for state Senate in the 18th District, said "our current nominee has failed his responsibility to represent the Republican Party. I have tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, but the comments that have come to light about women are unacceptable, demeaning and offensive."

"I sincerely hope, even at this late hour, that he will step aside so our party can nominate a qualified replacement, like Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who we can unify behind to stop Hillary Clinton from taking the White House," added Somers, who called Clinton "ethically unfit to hold the office of president.”

State Rep. Kathleen McCarty, a Republican incumbent for the 38th district, said she had already decided before Friday that she would not vote for Trump, and will likely write in another name — not Trump or Clinton.

Joseph C. Mark Taraya, the Republican candidate for the 139th House district who said at a debate at The Day last month that he doesn't plan on voting for Trump or Clinton, said Monday that he hadn't changed his stance.

"Up to this point I have not expressed support for him and have not endorsed him," state Rep. Devin Carney, R-Old Lyme, said. "I'm not supporting him. I'm not supporting Mrs. Clinton either. I'm going to see how the next month goes. I'd really like to see the third party candidates up on the debate stage."

The Republican candidate for the 2nd Congressional District, Daria Novak, said she is still “100 percent behind Trump.”

“We have a choice between two candidates this fall, one is a national security disaster, and one is somebody who has a locker room mouth sometimes,” Novak said by phone Monday morning. “But he is a patriot and very capable of doing the job.”

“The fact that Donald Trump has hired more women than Hillary Clinton, has more women on his campaign staff than Hillary Clinton and has apologized are all good things,” she said.

Novak criticized Clinton for what she called her “lack of regard” for the women who have accused her husband, former President Bill Clinton, of sexual abuse.

“That bothers me as a woman greatly that she would not defend women victims,” she said.

Robert Dempsky, the Republican candidate for the state's 46th House District, said Trump will still get his vote. He initially supported Ted Cruz.

"We have two candidates — one who has said bad things and another who has done bad things," Dempsky said. "I'm certainly not defending the things (Trump) said but they are words. It's not actual deeds. It's provable words versus provable deeds. I'll choose the former and take my chances."

Rep. Mike France, R-Ledyard, said that while he's not excited about the choices, Hillary Clinton disqualified herself by choosing to use a private email server.

"There's no way I can vote for Hillary Clinton given her lack of integrity, primarily in the area of national security," France said.

"I am left with Donald Trump. Am I excited? No," he said, calling it a default position.

Rep. Doug Dubitsky, R-Chaplin, said he's not supporting anyone but would vote against Clinton. He said he imagines he is going to vote for Trump, but he would be voting against the worse of two evils. He said Clinton should be in prison and not running the country.

Nick Mullane, the Republican candidate for the 43rd District state representative seat held by incumbent Democrat Diana Urban, said that while he is “on the fence right now” he will vote for Trump if what he is learning about Clinton’s deleting of e-mails and her foundation is true.

Mullane said he watched a television show that detailed both controversies on Monday and they left him feeling Clinton should be going to jail.

As for Trump’s latest comments about women, Mullane said what Trump said “was wrong. He shouldn’t have said it.”

“But what Bill Clinton did and she did to intimidate these women (who accused the former president of sexual assault) was worse than what Trump did. Trump was just talk,” he added.

Republican Andrew Lockwood, a petitioning candidate in the three-way race in the 39th House District in New London, has not publicly endorsed Trump and declined to directly comment on the controversy.

“I have been deeply entrenched in working on my own campaign, meeting with people, knocking on doors and raising funding,” he said in an email. “The real issues facing our local community, our state and our nation should be the focus for all citizens as Election Day approaches.”

Holly Cheeseman, the Republican candidate for the 37th District, said in a debate last month at The Day that she was disappointed Scott Walker was not the Republican nominee but could not vote for Clinton. Highlighting issues such as safety and employment, she said she was voting the Republican ticket.

When asked Monday if she is withdrawing her support, she said that she is focused on Connecticut and what she can do to help people recover from the destructive policies in Hartford.

Barbara Crouch, Republican running for Senate in the 19th District, has not endorsed either candidate, saying her job as an election official in Sprague constrains her from making an endorsement. 

Rep. John F. Scott, an incumbent Republican candidate for the 40th District who had declined to directly answer whether he was supporting Trump during The Day's debate last month, could not be reached to comment Monday.

State Sen. Art Linares, R-Westbrook, who said during The Day's debate last month that he was supporting Trump and cited his plan to reduce corporate taxes, could not be reached to comment Monday about whether or not he has since changed his position.

Rep. Aundré Bumgardner, R-Groton, also could not be reached Monday.

Day Staff Writers Julia Bergman, Karen Florin, Greg Smith, Ann Baldelli, Lee Howard, Amanda Hutchinson, Brian Hallenbeck, Martha Shanahan, Nate Lynch, Judy Benson, and Joe Wojtas contributed to this report.

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