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Anti-Trump tidal wave looms over Connecticut GOP

Record turnouts in the Super Tuesday primaries and the emergence of centrist Joe Biden as the sudden favorite in the Democratic field should have Republicans in the state bracing for another tough election.

The Democratic base and unaffiliated moderates are motivated to limit President Donald Trump to a single term. Trump wasn’t even on the ballot in 2018, yet it was discontent with his presidency that had Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters fired up. Super Tuesday turnouts showed they’re still energized, maybe more so.

Nationally, the big 2018 turnout helped Democrats take control of the House of Representatives and narrow the gap they faced in the Senate.

Connecticut that year saw 65% of registered voters turn out, unusually high for an “off-year,” even with a race for governor on the ballot. Compare the 2018 turnout to 2014, when 55.6% of registered voters showed up at the polls and 2010 when 57.5% did so. Nearly 310,000 more people voted in 2018 than did so in 2014 in Connecticut.

The big turnout had much to do with the state Senate going from an 18-18 split to 22-14 Democratic control and Democrats expanding their majority in the House to a dominant 91-60. It also propelled Democrat Ned Lamont into the governor’s chair.

Based on the big Democratic primary turnouts seen last Tuesday across the country, the wave that swept away the hopes of Republicans to gain the Senate and win the governorship has still not crested. That anti-Trump wave is still building, heading toward the Nov. 3, 2020, election.

Republican state Chairman J.R. Romano seemed to be scanning the horizon and watching that wave growing when he made a post-Super Tuesday email appeal to potential GOP donors.

“What happens if we fail?” it was titled.

“President Trump will turn over the White House to a socialist next January if we fail to unify and mobilize to keep him on the job,” said the donor appeal, answering its own question. It warned of a “Green New Nightmare that will cripple private industry and topple our way of life forever.”

Wow.

But that was the other bad news in the Super Tuesday results for Connecticut Republicans. Odds are now that it will be Barack Obama’s vice president, Biden, at the top of that Democratic ticket, not the democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders. While Trump loyalists may buy that Biden is a socialist, the Democrats and moderate independents that dominate the voting ranks in this state know the claim is ridiculous. They are far more worried about what Trump has been doing to the country with his disregard for the rule of law, his lies and a revolving-door administration.

Most Connecticut residents think expanding renewable energy and reducing the state’s carbon footprint as our contribution toward combating climate change is a good idea, environmentally and economically, not a “green nightmare.”

Republicans running lower on the ticket for state Senate and House seats have no protection from the anti-Trump deluge that is building. There is no governor’s race, or U.S. Senate race, and the Republicans don’t have a strong field running for Congress against the Democratic incumbents.

Ironically, Republicans would have been politically better off if Democrats had approved tolls. It would be an issue to run against.

Locally, Republicans have some strong incumbents. Sen. Heather Somers in the 18th District, Sen. Paul Formica in the 20th and Reps. Mike France, R-Ledyard and Holly Cheeseman, R-East Lyme, probably have handholds strong enough not to be washed away.

But as for the party statewide, it is going to have to do better than warning about a socialist boogeyman or expecting Trump to save it.

Paul Choiniere is the editorial page editor.

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