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Democrats win big

Hartford, Ct. – No matter how Connecticut Republicans try to spin it, Democrats won big in today’s municipal elections.

  • This week, the Connecticut Republican Party called the Fairfield First Selectman’s race their ‘number one target,’ trying to bill the race as a referendum on statewide Democrats. Tonight, Democratic First Selectman Mike Tetreau was re-elected 52%-47%.

    “‘This is our number one target,’ declared J.R. Romano, chairman of the Republican party in Connecticut. ‘I am personally invested, and the party will be invested, in Fairfield.'” [Hartford Courant, 11/01/15]

  • In J.R. Romano’s home town of Derby, where Romano was personally invested,  and the Connecticut Republican Party publicly committed significant time, effort, and resources, Democratic Mayor Anita Dugatto was re-elected with more than 51% of the vote.
  • In Brookfield… really? In Brookfield, where Democrats haven’t controlled the First Selctman’s office in decades, Democrat Steve Dunn upset the Republican incumbent.
  • In Trumbull, J.R.’s best buddy Tim Herbst was re-elected by nearly 3,800 votes in 2013. Now, after a failed statewide run and his buddy getting elected state GOP chair, voters cut his margin of victory by 90 percent, a clear rebuke of Tim Herbst and J.R. Romano’s leadership of the Republican Party.
  • In Simsbury – where Republicans resorted to petty tactics by cutting the (female) First Selectman’s pay by 35 percent in 2014 – voters stood strong and re-elected a Democratic woman. This is further proof that the Republican Party has never and shows no signs of supporting pay equity for women.
  • And the list goes on, as Democrats in important communities like Rocky Hill and Meriden defeated celebrated Republican incumbents – a clear admonishment of Republican priorities and politics.

“So much for J.R. Romano’s promise of a new Republican message. As J.R. crisscrossed the state, attempting to make this election a referendum on statewide Democrats, the Democratic Party proved once again what was demonstrated last year: a state of the art grassroots organization and a message of progress in our communities defeats hyperbole and misinformation every time. There is no doubt that this was a good night for Democrats as we move toward 2016.” – Connecticut Democratic Party Executive Director Michael Mandell


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Koch brother hosting fundraiser for Blumenthal rival

CT Dems’ Reaction:

“This tells us just about everything we need to know about August Wolf.

“It also raises real questions about the influence of the Koch brothers on Connecticut Republicans. We already know that GOP Chairman J.R. Romano served as the Koch brothers’ mouthpiece as the Connecticut coordinator of Americans for Prosperity. And state Reps. Whit Betts (R-Bristol) and John Piscopo (R-Thomaston) promoted the Koch-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) with a reception in Hartford earlier this year. Now their top declared candidate for the United States Senate is proving himself a long-time ally who is proud to advance the Koch agenda.

“The bottom line is this – Connecticut’s middle class families cannot afford the polices being advocated by the Koch wing of the Connecticut Republican Party.” – Connecticut Democratic Party spokesman Leigh Appleby

The Connecticut Mirror: Koch brother hosting fundraiser for Blumenthal rival


By:  | October 19, 2015

Washington – Billionaire industrialist David Koch is hosting a high-dollar fundraiserMonday evening for August Wolf, a Republican running against Democratic U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

The $10,000- a-plate fundraiser at the Metropolitan Club in New York  will also benefitseveral GOP senators, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Kelly Ayote of New Hampshire and Jerry Moran of Kansas.

The event will feature former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton and Rep. Ken Buck, R-Col., as “special guests.”

Wolf, of Redding, is a former U.S. indoor shot put national champion who competed in the 1984 Olympics, has had a long career on Wall Street and is a managing director of Lebenthal Asset Management. Unlike the other veteran lawmakers who will benefit from the fundraiser, Wolf has never held political office.

David Koch and his brother Charles are best known for initiating the establishment of third-party super PACs that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money independent of a candidate’s campaign to help or hurt that candidate.

David Koch established the Americans for Prosperity super PAC, and the brothers say they plan to spend as much as $300 million of their own money to influence the 2016 elections.

But Monday night, David Koch is raising money in the more traditional way for a candidate’s campaign, which is subject to limits on the amount of money individuals and political action committees can contribute.

Nevertheless, Wolf Campaign Manager Tom Daly hopes the event will raise about $100,000 for Blumenthal’s challenger.

Daly said Wolf and David Koch are longtime friends and share a common interest.

“Augie, like David, is seeking to change how Washington works,” Daly said.

To date, Wolf is at a fundraising disadvantage. As of Sept. 30, his campaign had raised about $350,000 while Blumenthal’s campaign reported having $2.5 million in cash on hand on June 30. Blumenthal’s latest filings with the Federal Elections Commission are not yet available.

Wolf may also face a primary challenge from fellow Republican Larry Kudlow, a CNBC host and conservative commentator who is weighing an entry in the Connecticut Senate race.

CT Post: Trumbull race another hornet’s nest for Herbst

Key Point: 

“The state GOP, led by Herbst college buddy J.R. Romano, is publicly challenging the Trumbull residency of the town’s top Democrat, Tom Kelly. It has raised questions about whether Kelly’s primary residence is in neighboring Stratford, which is a stipulation of his mortgage on his second home.

“‘None of them think the rules apply to them,’ Romano said.”

CT Dems’ Response:

“By ‘rules,’ does J.R. mean poking in the windows of a private citizen without a warrant? Or poring through the mortgage files of a political opponent because the First Selectman is afraid of being criticized? Or maybe he’s talking about making wildly inappropriate claims of corruption against solid corporate citizens in our state. Oh wait, that was Tim Herbst and the Republicans. Maybe it’s time for the GOP to do some soul searching.” – Connecticut Democratic Party spokesman Leigh Appleby

CT Post: Trumbull race another hornet’s nest for Herbst

By Neil Vigdor | Updated 1:09 am, Thursday, October 15, 2015

The term “off-year” election — those held in odd-numbered years — is an oxymoron in the case of Trumbull’s Tim Herbst.

For the third straight year, the provocative Republican is on the ballot, this time as the hunted instead of the hunter. A year after narrowly losing the state treasurer’s race but burnishing his name recognition across Connecticut, Herbst is asking the voters of his community of 34,000 to elect him to a fourth term as the town’s top office holder.

Standing in the way is Democratic challenger Vicki Tesoro, the town council’s minority leader.

The offices may be different, but there are common threads for Herbst: strife and gamesmanship.

Take one recent morning when Democrats said they scrambled to keep the power turned on at their local campaign headquarters after a utility crew curiously showed up to turn the meter off.

“I do have my concerns that there’s something about that,” Tesoro said, stopping short of pointing a finger directly at Herbst. “That’s childish. We’re adults and we need to act like adults and talk about the issues that people want to hear about.”

Herbst was quick with a comeback.

“Well, they’re in the dark on a lot of things, perhaps in the dark on that as well,” Herbst said. “I am not a licensed electrician. I do not know how to turn power off.”

Digging up dirt

While Herbst has the power of incumbency and a 2-to-1 fundraising advantage in his favor, Trumbull remains a key theater of hostilities for both state parties.

The state GOP, led by Herbst college buddy J.R. Romano, is publicly challenging the Trumbull residency of the town’s top Democrat, Tom Kelly. It has raised questions about whether Kelly’s primary residence is in neighboring Stratford, which is a stipulation of his mortgage on his second home.

“None of them think the rules apply to them,” Romano said.

Democrats have accused Herbst of using public funds to hire a private investigator to dredge up dirt on Kelly, who maintains he’s a Trumbull resident.

“The incumbent first selectman needs to answer for why taxpayer dollars were used to investigate his chief political rival,” said Middletown Mayor Daniel Drew, chairman of the Connecticut Conference of Democratic Mayors.

Herbst has denied the allegation of Drew, who gave $1,500 from his political action committee to Tesoro.

Tesoro, 60, one of four Democrats on the 21-member town council, said she is trying to avoid the fray.

“All of this other nonsense that goes along with politicians is, frankly, sickening and people in this town are tired of it,” said Tesoro, a former PTSA president at Trumbull High SchoolMadison Middle School and Tashua Elementary School.

An unrelenting critic of Herbst on the town council, Tesoro has made taxes a focus of her candidacy. Since Herbst took office in 2010, she said, town spending has increased by $26 million and Trumbull’s mill rate is the highest it has been since 1989.

The town has the highest sewer tax mill rate of any community with more than 5,000 residents in the state, Tesoro said.

“People are tired of doling out money,” said the married mother of two. “We need to get control of our spending to stop that.”

An ‘Academy Award’

Herbst, 35, who captured 70 percent of Trumbull’s vote in 2013, said Tesoro has long advocated for bigger government and that he deserves credit for getting the town’s fiscal house in order.

Since taking office, the average annual tax increase has been 2 percent and the town has funded its pension liabilities, according to Herbst, who said his decision-making has been validated by the big three bond ratings agencies.

“I know that the Democratic Party nominated Mrs. Tesoro for first selectman, but they really should have nominated her for an Academy Award because it’s an absolutely gifted acting performance,” Herbst said.

Tesoro has made it no secret that a major part of her strategy is to show Herbst as biding his time until he runs for statewide office again.

“We know that Tim has higher aspirations,” Tesoro said. “That’s fine. But I think he needs to be honest with the people of Trumbull.”

Herbst said he is putting in 90 to 100 hours a week as first selectman and has knocked on over 2,000 doors.

“My plans are to serve the town of Trumbull for the next two years,” Herbst said. “Last year, I don’t think we would have come the closest of any Republican statewide if I didn’t have a good story to tell.”