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    Wednesday, August 17, 2022

    A race to face Blumenthal

    Connecticut’s registered Republican voters, plus any more who register with the party before the August 9th party primary, have three candidates to choose from, with the winner to face incumbent U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal in November.

    Many of those potential voters may not be familiar with the GOP candidates’ names or background, or even that a primary is scheduled in less than two weeks.

    Themis Klarides, the nominee endorsed by the state Republican convention, is being challenged by Leora Levy, a member of the Republican National Committee, and Peter Lumaj, who has run for statewide offices. All have been running mostly quiet campaigns until recently. They took the stage at WTNH (Channel 8) on Tuesday for the only scheduled live, televised debate.

    In answer to questions posed by Dennis House and Jody Latina of Channel 8, each of the three vied to be the most dependably conservative choice to face the Democrat Blumenthal, whom they characterized as “radical left.”

    An August primary, especially after a heat wave and in the height of vacation time, customarily attracts the lowest voter turnout of any statewide contest. Most likely to make the effort to cast a vote are those who feel the most urgency on the issues. Lumaj and Levy are clearly betting that they can appeal to voters who blame Democrats for inflation, are anti-abortion, and aren’t willing to give up on former President Donald Trump.

    Klarides, a veteran of 11 terms in the state legislature and a former House Minority Leader, wants to be seen as a conservative but also as an experienced lawmaker whose voting record has been tempered by the real politics of fiscal policymaking and of voting for gun control measures after Sandy Hook. She has said she did not vote for Trump in 2020.

    Here’s where the candidates said they stand, in their one-minute responses in the debate:

    Klarides, who led the House Republican Caucus in 2017 when the state legislature enacted volatility and spending caps, would seek lower taxes for individuals and a balanced federal budget. She supports a woman’s right to choose an abortion and requiring parental consent for minors seeking abortions, with an option for court approval instead. The granddaughter of immigrants, she wants “as much legal immigration as we can have.” She supports arming school resource officers and would have voted for the recently enacted federal law increasing ways for states to limit access to assault weapons and purchase by those under 21. She has said she voted for a write-in candidate in 2020. Whether she would vote for Donald Trump if he runs again would depend on who else is running.

    Levy, who is formerly on the record as supporting a woman’s right to choose, opposes Connecticut’s moves to become a “sanctuary state” and would allow abortion only to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest. An immigrant from Cuba, she favors resuming building the wall begun by Donald Trump at the Mexican border. She believes students are being indoctrinated with so-called race theory and does not accept the idea of systemic racism in the United States. She favors offering teachers training in firearms and having someone armed in the school. Levy opposes the recent federal legislation on guns. She would vote for the Republican nominee whether or not that were Donald Trump.

    Peter Lumaj is critical of federal monetary and fiscal policy. He defines himself as pro-life and agrees with the recent Supreme Court decision sending the authority for making abortion laws to the states. An immigrant from Albania, he opposes illegal immigration. He favors armed officers or military personnel in the schools. He disagreed with parts of the federal gun bill. He would vote again for Donald Trump.

    The Day is not making an endorsement in the primary race, but the newspaper’s long standing positions include support of gun controls and acknowledgment of systemic racism. The Day did not endorse Donald Trump in either of his campaigns. The newspaper has consistently criticized the repeated failure of Congress to come to agreement on immigration policy since the administration of President George W. Bush. We welcomed the bipartisan state budget that started reining in a longstanding deficit.

    Only registered Republicans may vote Aug. 9. The final day for in-person registration is Aug. 8.

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