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Primary day lessons

In the Town of Groton, the Democratic Party reaped what it had sowed and now must regroup. In Guilford, Republicans were energized by the boogeyman that is critical race theory, suggesting that coming Board of Education elections may be far more partisan than typically expected. And in two Connecticut communities, younger progressive challengers dumped incumbent mayors in Democratic primaries.

Such was primary day Tuesday in Connecticut. It suggests that some of the stark divisions seen at the national level — both intraparty and between parties — may seep down to the local level in the Nov. 2 vote.

In July the Groton Democratic Town Committee, its party in full control of the nine-member council, made the foolhardy decision to withhold its endorsement from one of the Democratic incumbents — Portia Bordelon. Her transgressions were explained to be that she could be aggressive in her legislating approach and sometimes brash in her interactions with fellow councilors.

These were stupid reasons to bounce an incumbent from the party’s council slate. Worse yet, all the moaning about Bordelon fed the stereotype of the pushy Black woman. It was political malpractice. The results were predictable. Bordelon became the heroic victim and received the bulk of the attention in the lead-up to the primary.

The primary eliminated one of the 10 candidates, with Bordelon finishing first with about 200 more votes than the next highest vote getter. Meanwhile, voters bounced from the slate Councilor Conrad Heede, who happens to be party chairman and deserves much of the blame for the debacle. It seemed fitting.

If Bordelon is again the top vote getter on Nov. 2, she could argue that the council should elect her mayor. The irony could not be richer.

In Guilford, five Republican candidates ran on a single issue — a commitment to keep critical race theory teaching out of the town’s public schools. All five won handily, knocking three incumbent Republicans from the ballot in the process. The approach generated a 47% turnout among town Republicans, an unusually high turnout for a local primary.

It is a bogus issue, but it worked politically, so expect to see CRT raised by Republicans in other school board races in the general election.

In Stamford, state Rep. Caroline Simmons defeated incumbent Mayor David Martin, while in Hamden Lauren Garrett unseated three-term incumbent Mayor Curt Leng. The primary results indicate Democratic voters are also in a mood for change.

 

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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