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    Sunday, April 21, 2024

    OPINION: Dem Groton City Mayor Hedrick attends fundraiser for GOP Sen. Somers

    I was certainly startled this week when someone sent me a picture of Groton City Mayor Keith Hedrick, a Democrat, attending a Sunday fundraiser for state Sen. Heather Somers, a Republican.

    There he was, the mayor, with a big smile wearing a Heather Somers campaign sticker on his chest posing with the candidate herself.

    Sandwiched in between Somers and Hedrick was Democratic Deputy Groton City Mayor Gweneviere Depot, also wearing a big smile and a Heather Somers campaign sticker.

    Wow.

    In Groton, apparently, Democrats campaign for the Republicans.

    I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised, since it was a little over two years ago that I wrote about some Facebook posts by Groton City Democratic Chairman Jean-Claude Ambroise, who publicly supported Donald Trump in his 2016 run for president, making fun of Hilary Clinton “shaking” in her pantsuit.

    “Vote for Trump/Pence in opposition to the overly corrupted and incestuous political, financial, corporate global elitists who don’t give a flying fig about you or I,” he wrote on Facebook.

    Those corrupt, incestuous elitists, of course, would be Democrats.

    I reached out to Groton Town Democratic Chairwoman Natalie Burfoot to ask about the Democratic cheerleaders at Somers’ Republican campaign fundraiser Sunday, and in the email I got back from her Tuesday she sounded appropriately chagrined about the political behavior of two prominent officeholders in town from her party.

    She said she has asked Hedrick to consider resigning from his elected position with the town committee, but noted there is no provision in bylaws to remove someone from an elected committee position.

    “While I respect and value bipartisanship in governing, campaigning is a different matter. I am troubled and disappointed with Mayor Hedrick's choice,” Burfoot wrote to me.

    Burfoot said Hedrick told her he would consider her request to resign.

    It would surprise me if he did, because when I spoke with him Monday he made his appearance at a GOP fundraiser sound as routine as could be.

    He asked me to specifically mention that Somers was supportive of the city’s request for state funding for a $2.7 million seawall.

    “I attended a fundraiser because I am supportive of people who are supportive of the City of Groton,” he told me.

    We chatted amiably for a bit, and I can say he honestly did not seem to understand why any Democrats would be concerned about his appearing at a campaign event for a Republican, a leader on the opposing political team.

    He specifically noted that he did not give her campaign any money and he did not give a speech at the event.

    “My presence there doesn’t mean I don’t support Democratic candidates,” he said.

    Curiously, the photo of Hedrick and Depot with Somers at her fundraiser disappeared from the Groton Republicans’ Facebook page soon after I called the mayor and deputy mayor. Hedrick returned my call immediately. Depot did not respond.

    Someone told me the picture of Hedrick with Somers was sent to Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, the Democrat who plans to run for governor if Ned Lamont says he won’t stand for reelection.

    Somers has said she intends to seek the Republican nomination for governor.

    Something tells me that Democrats in Hartford don’t take kindly to elected members of their party, whom they have helped put in office, cozying up to a Republican senator with gubernatorial ambitions, at her political fundraiser.

    In fact, I think that giant clanking sound I’ve been hearing could be the Democrats in Hartford busily closing the money spigots for Groton, since city leadership is betraying its own team in electoral politics.

    That’s not the kind of political loyalty that gets rewarded.

    Democrats have yet to choose a challenger to Somers, who recently announced her reelection campaign for the 18th Senate district.

    I wonder if Hedrick, a member of the Groton Democratic Town Committee, might attend or wear his Somers campaign sticker to any formal or informal Democratic meetings or convention in which the party might consider who will become her challenger.

    This is the opinion of David Collins.

    d.collins@theday.com

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