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    Thursday, June 13, 2024

    From anti-vaxxers to the Big Lie, Connecticut GOP is carrying baggage

    I know that some Connecticut Republicans will make inroads this fall in the municipal elections, at the hyperlocal level of politics.

    Certainly, the all-Democratic councils in Groton and New London, doing routine business by party consensus, without public discourse, need to be challenged.

    Connecticut Republicans also traditionally have been at least a partial check on Democrats' one-party rule in Hartford.

    But it seems to me, the cratering of the national Republican Party, as it pursues Donald Trump's assault on democracy and insistence that the 2020 election was stolen from him, is eroding any credibility the Connecticut GOP can maintain.

    To win statewide office in Connecticut, or even the larger state Senate districts, Republicans, far outnumbered in voter registration, need to win over independents. And that is going to become increasingly impossible if Connecticut Republicans also have to assuage their base, soothe all the pandemic deniers and anti-vaxxers while insisting Trump won the last election.

    Honestly, can you imagine a Republican gubernatorial candidate winning an election in Connecticut while insisting that Joe Biden is an illegitimate president?

    I don't see it happening. Connecticut is not going to tolerate a pandering to the crazies.

    And yet would it be possible for someone to win a Republican gubernatorial primary in Connecticut while denying the party base what has become a fundamental precept of Republicanism, Trump's big lie.

    And that's just one issue that is going to make for a thorny 2022 for Connecticut Republicans.

    The party's courting of the anti-vax, anti-mask vote is not going to help much with Connecticut independents.

    Probably even more worrisome for the party should be the possible implosion of Roe v. Wade and abortion protections at the hands of a Republican-engineered conservative Supreme Court. It's already essentially been outlawed in Texas, with court challenges only slowly gathering steam.

    I believe many independent mainstream Connecticut voters have in the past looked away from the anti-abortion stands of Republican candidates, who may have seemed otherwise appealing for their fiscal messaging.

    But when it becomes more apparent that Republicans may actually be succeeding in taking away most abortion rights, those anti-abortion opinions are going to be a much bigger factor for mainstream voters who will bristle at the idea of a woman's choice being eliminated.

    Connecticut Republicans, especially at the dawn of the Trump era, have suggested to Connecticut independents that the state's lawmaking is distinct from national politics.

    But of course that's never been true, and as the party endorses an increasingly hostile environment toward democracy, with laws even outlawing the delivery of water to people standing in line at the polls, firewalls protecting democracy in each state are going to be more important than ever.

    Does anyone in the mainstream of state politics want to see a future in which Trump calls up a Republican secretary of the state in Connecticut and demands that person find him more votes?

    Do mainstream voters want to see Connecticut Republicans have enough authority to gerrymander congressional districts?

    You can see Connecticut Republicans already dragging out their old hobbyhorses and some new ones.

    They will talk about the horrors of tolls until they are blue in the face. Fear the gas tax.

    Right now the scary stuff is all within the Republican Party, and it would take a lot of hocus-pocus to make mainstream independent voters in Connecticut look away.

    It sure looks like Republicans in Connecticut are becoming more marginalized than ever, overcome by the worst inclinations of the party faithful.

    This is the opinion of David Collins. 


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