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    Tuesday, April 16, 2024

    OPINION: Who will challenge Sen. Somers, of the pro-Trump party of Putin?

    Of all the ticking clocks in Connecticut for the fall elections, one I hear loudly is here in the 18th Senate District, where Sen. Heather Somers has now announced her bid for reelection.

    Somers has also signaled her interest in running for governor.

    There’s a lot of political ambition bottled up there, and you can see that in Somers’ aggressive calendar.

    As they say about fervent attention seekers, the senator would be sure to attend the opening of an envelope, if invited, especially if cameras were there.

    Running for the 18th Senate seat is no easy job, and I will say Republican Somers has done it very well. She always shows up.

    Historically, the seat has often but not always been held by Republicans. It was one of 200 or so “pivot” voting districts around the country that went to Trump in 2016, after a majority voted in the two previous elections for Barack Obama.

    Somers got elected to the Senate in the strange wave of that pivot year, ascending to high office with Donald Trump.

    Since then, she’s managed pretty well to keep her distance from Trump and Trumpism, even as he’s consolidated control of the entire GOP.

    She hasn’t yet alienated too many of the Democrats and Independents in her Connecticut district, voters she needs to keep going.

    But I wonder if she can do it again, and keep her party’s Trumpism, which becomes more alarming by the day, from souring non-Trumpists here against her.

    After all, just this week we learned that House Republicans have been using lies from a Russian spy as the centerpiece of their presidential impeachment efforts.

    Trump is busy bashing NATO, and Republicans in Congress refuse to further fund the Ukrainians in their war against Russia’s murderous Vladimir Putin, as he also holds civilian Americans in his jails.

    Trump calls him a genius.

    I would have said that much of the electoral strength the GOP has ever summoned in eastern Connecticut has come from the party’s traditional strengths in defense spending and resolve in combating Soviet or Russian aggression.

    Indeed, as we build submarines, we are in the business here of protecting NATO, and it’s hard for me to imagine anyone in eastern Connecticut running to represent a party that stands for NATO bashing.

    Trump, who gorged on debt while running the country, more than any other American president, tried to cut the submarine-building budget, one which we now know is fueling an historic hiring wave in this part of Connecticut.

    I don’t know how anyone should expect to get elected or reelected here with R after their name, unless they loudly and decisively renounce the new iron leadership of their party, as it marches toward an isolationist, election-denying, authoritarian future.

    It’s your party, and if you’re not speaking against those behind that alarming lurch, at every level, then you’re with them.

    So far, in this year in which the GOP has turned upside down, it looks like there could a lot of pivoting.

    The question now is which Democrat will step forward to challenge Somers and demand that she tell us exactly what kind of Republican she wants to be.

    There’s a presidential primary here April 2, and Trump is on the ballot. I’d like to hear from Somers, as well as all other Connecticut Republicans, on how they plan to vote in this crucial time, on the direction of their party.

    Showing up is not enough this year.

    This is the opinion of David Collins.

    d.collins@theday.com

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