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For Sen. Witkos, Handing Out Ribbons is Better than Taking Action to Prevent Gun Violence and Discrimination

HARTFORD, CT – Today Deputy Senate Minority Leader Kevin Witkos (R-Canton) announced to all legislators and all General Assembly staff that his office would be “handing out Pulse memory pins in honor of the 49 individuals killed in the Orlando nightclub shooting earlier this month.” (See below for full email.)

In response to the senator’s hypocrisy, Connecticut Democratic Party Executive Director Michael Mandell released the following statement:

“While we respect the gesture of handing out memory pins after such a horrific tragedy, Sen. Witkos’s offer does not match his actions. Sen. Witkos has voted to keep guns in the hands of domestic abusers and repeatedly voted against guaranteeing the legal rights of the LGBTQ community.  Handing out ribbons won’t prevent the next tragedy, and it is hypocritical to only express concern after the fact. Real action is needed to prevent discrimination and keep guns out the hands of dangerous people. Sen. Witkos and many of his Republican colleagues have failed that test far too many times – which is not surprising when the Republican Party is led by a misogynistic, reactionary and xenophobic presidential candidate in Donald Trump.”

Sen. Witkos’s long history of voting against bipartisan legislation to Connecticut citizens from discrimination and gun violence includes:

Voting again Public Act 05-10 An Act Concerning Civil Unions;

Voting against Public Act 07-938 An Act Concerning the Reporting Lost or Stolen Firearms and Illegal Firearms Trafficking;

Voting against Public Act 11-55 An Act Concerning Discrimination;

Voting against Public Act 09-13 An Act Implementing the Guarantee of Equal Protection Under the Constitution for Same Sex Couples;

Voting against Public Act No. 13-3 An Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety; and

Voting against Public Act 16-34 An Act Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence.”

Witkos Email

CT Dems’ Reaction To SCOTUS Rulings

Hartford, Ct. – Connecticut Democratic Party Deputy Executive Director Alynn Woischke released the following statement in response to today’s Supreme Court rulings striking down Texas’s anti-abortion law and asserting that domestic assaults can be considered misdemeanors and can restrict the right of those convicted to possess firearms.

“The Whole Woman’s Health case is yet another reminder that reproductive rights continue to come under attack from Republicans across the country. From Texas’s blatant attempt to restrict a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, to Donald Trump’s preposterous assertion that women should be punished for exercising their right to choose, the Republicans’ attacks on women’s health are relentless.

“Connecticut Republicans have shied away from making their feelings on reproductive choice known. Republican congressional candidate Clay Cope has even insinuated that, because he has neither a wife nor a daughter, he does not care about women’s health issues. This is unacceptable. With their party taking concrete steps to restrict access to safe, legal reproductive health care, Connecticut Republicans need to be very clear about exactly where they stand on women’s health issues.

“The Supreme Court also rightly decided that those convicted of domestic violence can lose the right to posses deadly weapons. This is a major victory for victims of violence, and it is a reminder that – thanks to Democrats – Connecticut is leading by keeping guns out of the hands of people under temporary restraining orders. The evidence is clear: a woman is 500 percent more likely to be killed if her abuser has access to guns. Connecticut’s new law will literally save lives.”

Remember that time? Happy Anniversary To J.R. Romano!

On June 23, 2015, Connecticut Republicans elected J.R. Romano as their party chairman. Today, on his one year anniversary, Democrats are reflecting on some of the highlights – and lowlights – of his tenure as head of the Connecticut GOP.

Here are just a few of our favorite moments from the year that was…

…that time when, days into Romano’s term, a Republican State Central member was caught flying the Confederate flag and Romano failed to take action – or even disown the flag:

J.R. Romano, The Party’s Newly-Elected Chairman, Expressed Mixed Feelings About The Display Of The Stars And Bars. “J.R. Romano, the party’s newly-elected chairman, expressed mixed feelings about the display of the Stars and Bars. ‘I fully understand and recognize to some people who are minorities why it might be offensive,’ Romano said. ‘To others, it represents state’s rights.’” [CT News Blog, 06/26/15]

…that time he fell for an internet hoax a simple Google search could have prevented:

Colin McEnroe: “To J.R. Romano, A Piece Of Advice: Not Everything On The Internet Is Real. I Know! I Found It Hard To Get Used To.” “To J.R. Romano, a piece of advice: Not everything on the Internet is real. I know! I found it hard to get used to. […] Romano has been a little harder to read, but this week he threw up all over himself, falling for a third-rate Internet hoax and behaving like a petulant oaf. Romano’s office issued a statement lambasting President Barack Obama for “drooling all over Che Guevara.” The evidence of this was a photo of Obama smiling and holding up to his chest a blue T-shirt emblazoned with a silk screen of Guevara.” [Colin McEnroe, Hartford Courant, 03/24/16]

… that time he thought banning a reporter from the GOP state convention was a good idea:

The Chairman Of The Republican State Central Committee On Friday Denied Hearst Connecticut Media’s Political Reporter Access To The Party’s Monday Convention. “The chairman of the Republican State Central Committee on Friday denied Hearst Connecticut Media’s political reporter access to the party’s Monday convention. J.R. Romano, of Derby, turned down Neil Vigdor’s request to attend the event in the Connecticut Convention Center, for what he characterized as a series of negative stories about state Republicans that used anonymous sources. ‘I’m tired of him having unnamed sources,’ Romano said Friday. ‘I question his motivations. Neil Vigdor is not treating us fairly. I just want to be treated fairly. I’m not being treated fairly.’” [CT Post, 05/07/16]

Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano Didn’t Apologize For Banning A Reporter From The State Convention, But He Reneged On His Decision To Ban Him Monday In A Video Posted On The Party’s Facebook Page. “Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano didn’t apologize for banning a reporter from the state convention, but he reneged on his decision to ban him Monday in a video posted on the party’s Facebook page. In the video (see below) Romano invites Neil Vigdor of the Hearst newspaper chain to attend the convention at the Connecticut Convention Center. ‘He will be credentialed,’ Romano said. ‘I just needed to draw attention to what I felt was unfair coverage.’” [CT News Junkie, 05/09/16]

…that time he attempted to rewrite history:

The Other Afternoon, When Asked To Comment On Malloy’s Charges That Republican-Run States Have Been Making It Harder For Blacks And Hispanics To Register To Vote, Romano Offered Up Some Revisionist History. “But the other afternoon, when asked to comment on Malloy’s charges that Republican-run states have been making it harder for blacks and Hispanics to register to vote, Romano offered up some revisionist history. Speaking from the Republican National Committee meeting in Cleveland prior to the party’s presidential throwdown on Fox TV, he recalled that it was Republican majorities in Congress that approved 1965 act. Wrong. The 89th Congress had Democratic majorities of 68-32 in the Senate and 295 to 140 in the House. In fact, Democrats held Senate majorities from 1955 until 1981 and ran the House from 1957 until 1995. Rather than Google around for the fact check, I went all analog on Romano and looked it up in ‘The World Almanac and Book of Facts.’” [CT Post, 8/8/15]

…that time he choked – by the GOP’s own standards – in the 2015 election: 

“‘We’re telling voters to send Dan Malloy a message and vote Republican,’ said J.R. Romano, who took over in June as chairman of the Republican State Central Committee.” [CT Mirror, 10/29/15]

“‘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.’” [CT Mirror, 10/29/15]

Thanks To The GOP’s Own Metric – It Loudly Pronounced The Election A Referendum On The Tax Policies Of The Unpopular Gov. Dannel P. Malloy – The Democrats Could Credibly Lay Claim To Winning At Least The Immediate Messaging Battle. “The polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday, but Democrats and Republicans kept punching Wednesday like two fighters who didn’t hear the bell, battling over what constituted a political win or loss in Connecticut’s 2015 municipal elections. Thanks to the GOP’s own metric – it loudly pronounced the election a referendum on the tax policies of the unpopular Gov. Dannel P. Malloy – the Democrats could credibly lay claim to winning at least the immediate messaging battle. ‘The Republicans said this was going to be a referendum on Dan Malloy. I guess we did pretty well,’ said Malloy, a Democrat. ‘In fact, they said they were going to win Derby, and they were going to win Fairfield. They didn’t win either. We picked up a number of communities. We’re very happy — very, very happy — with the results.’” [CT Mirror, 11/04/15]

… and finally that time when Donald Trump was super racist and Romano was like ¯\_(?)_/¯

Connecticut GOP Chairman J.R. Romano Isn’t Among Those Calling Out The Republican Presidential Frontrunner. “Donald Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. has drawn widespread condemnation from House Speaker Paul Ryan, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and other prominent GOP leaders. But Connecticut GOP Chairman J.R. Romano isn’t among those calling out the Republican presidential frontrunner. Asked Wednesday about Trump’s comments, Romano tread carefully. ‘The presidential election is a ways away for us,’ Romano said.” [Hartford Courant, 12/09/15]

This is just a small sampling of what we think Romano’s highlights have been this year. We look forward to the continuing showcase of gravity defying, reality warping, ineffective schemes as Republicans attempt to “Take Connecticut Back” for his former employers the Koch brothers.

After a year, Democrats can say for sure that we’re grateful that Republican leaders elected him.

As House Democrats Sit-In, Where Do Cope, Novak, Shaban Stand?

As every member of Connecticut’s congressional delegation participates in a sit-in to push for a vote on gun safety legislation, their Republican challengers have stayed silent. The question for Clay Cope, Daria Novak, and John Shaban is simple: Where do they stand? Do they stand with 86 percent of voters in supporting legislation to prevent suspected terrorists from acquiring weapons, or do they stand with their would-be House GOP colleagues and the NRA in opposing this commonsense legislation?

“This is no time for silence; it’s a time for leadership. Connecticut voters deserve to know exactly where the people running to be their representative in Congress stand on this critically important issue. Every member of Connecticut’s congressional delegation has the courage to stand up and make their position on gun safety known – and to fight for progress toward ending gun violence. It’s time for Republican candidates to make their voices heard. Silence is simply unacceptable.” – Connecticut Democratic Party spokesman Leigh Appleby