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    Tuesday, March 05, 2024

    OPINION: Are Connecticut Republicans afraid to endorse Haley?

    So, by most measures, Nikki Haley would be a dream Republican presidential candidate in Connecticut, at least in the pre-Trump era.

    Indeed, she is in the mold of the Connecticut moderate Republicans who used to be able to win statewide office.

    It’s been so long that it’s hard to remember, but Connecticut used to manage to send some Republicans to Washington, at least to the House of Representatives, and lots of Republicans over the years have lived in the governor’s mansion.

    Traditional Connecticut Republicans should also welcome a Haley primary win, since she seems to do way better in polls than Donald Trump, or any other Republican for that matter, against Biden in a general election.

    After all, the Koch brothers finally hitched up their pants, braced for the blowtorch of Trump burning bile, and put their mega GOP campaign money and support behind Haley, now their hoped-for Trump slayer.

    Some big Democratic donors are, surprisingly, giving to Haley, too, in the category of stop Trump and save American democracy at any cost, even it means putting a more appealing Republican on the ballot in November.

    But don’t expect to see or hear much Haley talk in GOP circles here before the spring presidential primaries. That’s not because lots of Republican politicians wouldn’t love to see her win here and across the country, but because they are afraid to anger Trump and his base.

    After all, we are closing in on the start of the 2024 primary season and, I don’t know about you dear readers, but I have not heard a whisper anywhere around here of any Haley support.

    I would like to hear, for instance, from my own state senator, Republican Heather Somers, if she plans to endorse anyone other than Trump before the spring vote in Connecticut. Come on Senator, there’s a primary going on. Speak up.

    We all know a Haley endorsement wouldn’t go down well in many fire-red corners of your district.

    And, of course, there are lots of other prominent Connecticut Republicans who should take sides, as their party swings toward authoritarianism with Trump.

    You don’t have to look much further than the 2020 presidential results in Connecticut ― 1,080,000 for Biden, the most votes ever cast in Connecticut for any candidate, and 715,291 for Trump ― to know that Trump is not conceivably going to win here in 2024. They are, after all, the same two candidates, and Trump has since picked up dozens of criminal charges, awaiting trial on many of them, and made himself the vote-for-a-dictator candidate.

    But there are still a lot of Trump voters ― he carried two counties, Litchfield and Windham ― and I think Connecticut Republican politicians remain too fearful of the Trump base, even though it’s not big enough to win very many elections, certainly none statewide, to endorse any other candidate in the primary.

    So as the Connecticut GOP burns to the ground, unable to win across the state, losing ground even in municipal elections, the party seems unable to pull the fire alarm and rescue what’s left of a viable two-party system here.

    Let’s make no mistake. There are a lot of Trump voters in Connecticut, and they won’t accept any less than total allegiance to the cult, not just the party.

    As this primary season rolls out, Connecticut Republican officeholders and office aspirants need to shake off the Trumpism now or be forever sidelined here.

    We won’t forget.

    The rest of us in Connecticut, who want to preserve America as we know it, voted 1,080,000 to 715,291 in 2020 to send Trump on his way, and with new Trump convictions on conspiracy charges on the horizon, that ratio is not going to get better.

    It ought to be a siren call for Republicans here to change course soon. A Haley endorsement would be a start.

    This is the opinion of David Collins.

    d.collins@theday.com

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