Greenwich Republicans rev up campaigns at annual clambake

Making an emphatic point about the importance of voter turnout, Congressional candidate Dan Debicella helped fire up the base at the annual Cos Cob Republican Clam Bake

Making an emphatic point about the importance of voter turnout, Congressional candidate Dan Debicella helped fire up the base at the annual Cos Cob Republican Clam Bake

Under a crystal clear blue sky and with unseasonably warm September weather, state Rep. Livvy Floren (R-149th) declared the 83rd annual Cos Cob Republican Club Clambake, “A glorious day to be a Republican.”

And with the party pushing toward big goals this Election Day, the party faithful certainly agreed as delicacies like lobster, steak and swordfish were enjoyed at Greenwich Point’s clambake area while Republican candidates and officials urged them to support the ticket in November. A pair of rematches led this year’s ticket as Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, a Greenwich resident, leads the way in his bid to unseat incumbent Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy after one term and former state Sen. Dan Debicella is again challenging U.S. Rep. Jim Himes as the Cos Cob Democrat seeks his fourth term in Congress.

Both Mr. Foley and Mr. Debicella led an all-star team of Republican speakers at the event, which was put together by the Cos Cob Republican Club and the Greenwich Republican Town Committee (RTC), with an assist on coffee and dessert from the Greenwich Republican Women’s Forum. And with Mr. Foley leading Mr. Malloy in the polls, Republicans can smell victory in that race and they wanted to make sure their base of voters turned out on Nov. 4.

“We need to take back our state on Nov. 4 and return it to its rightful owners, you people, the taxpaying residents, not the special interests in Hartford,” Greenwich Selectman David Theis, who as president of the Cos Cob Republican Club, served as the unofficial master of ceremonies. “We can’t let this opportunity slip by and there’s lots you can do to help. Volunteer to work on a campaign. Volunteer to go down to the headquarters in Cos Cob next to Chicken Joe’s, even if it’s only a couple of hours a week. Your work will pay great dividends.”

First Selectman Peter Tesei added, “This election has consequences and Dave and I know quite well what those consequences are for communities like Greenwich who have had to bear the burden of the various increased taxes and unfunded state mandates — whether they’re in Hartford or Washington, D.C., we end up being the ones footing the bill.”

While Republicans have long dominated Greenwich politics, there was an extra air of confidence at the clambake, with Mr. Foley seeming to be in such fine shape in his rematch with Mr. Malloy. Mr. Foley narrowly lost that race in 2010 and polls have him now in 2014 with a lead  perhaps as high as six points. Party officials, including Greenwich RTC head Jim Campbell and state Republican Party chair Jerry Labriola Jr., warned against complacency and encouraged everyone to get involved in the campaign and turn out at the polls. Mr. Campbell noted that in 2010, 60,000 registered Republicans in Connecticut, including 1,800 in Greenwich, stayed home and didn’t vote, and he told everyone to imagine what could happen if even half that number went out to vote.

“We are on the verge of victory,” Mr. Foley said. “I don’t want to take anything for granted, but we are going to win this race, I can promise you. … You’ve heard enough about the dynamics of the race. You know the people of Connecticut are mad and they’re upset with this governor. They want change, and we’re the change.”

He thanked everyone who supported him in 2010 and has come back in 2014, and praised primary opponents John McKinney and Mark Boughton, who have been campaigning for him with an eye toward success in the general election. Mr. Foley strongly praised the Republican Party’s work this year for the whole ticket but said it needed voter turnout to result in the victory they were seeking, especially since this is a mid-term election, not a presidential year like 2012 was or 2016 will be.

Mr. Debicella, who lost to Mr. Himes in 2010, is also looking to reverse that result in 2014. Slightly hampered by a cold and the strain the campaign speeches have taken on his voice, Mr. Debicella also zeroed in on the get-out-the-vote message, saying that his polling showed the race a dead heat and that every vote would matter.

“The team of Dan Malloy and Jim Himes have failed Greenwich,” Mr. Debicella said. “It’s failed Connecticut. We’re 50 out of 50 in job creation. Our traffic is worse than it’s ever been and our failed health care is hurting Connecticut families in Connecticut and right here in Greenwich. Jim Himes has become part of the problem, voting 95% of the time with [Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi. You know Jim. You know he’s a really nice guy, but he’s a nice guy who votes against your families on a regular basis.”

But it wasn’t just the governor’s mansion and the Congress on the minds of Greenwich Republicans. There are also state legislature races this year, and it was stressed that the more Republicans were elected, the better it would be for a prospective Gov. Foley administration.

Ms. Floren, a longtime incumbent seeking her eighth term in office, had originally been set to retire after this year and had not been planning to run. However, she said her constituents in a district covering parts of both Greenwich and Stamford urged her to change her mind and she was in the race to win it as she faces off this November with Democratic candidate Marc Abrams.

“Being here represents a renewal,” Ms. Floren said in her remarks to the clambake crowd. “It’s a renewal of energy, enthusiasm and excitement. It’s a time for exhilaration and endurance. Our ticket has business sense, common sense and a sense of humor. … Throughout all of the hoopla and the fun, we must keep our focus. Our job is to get the Republican vote out on Election Day, and we need to stay unified behind our entire slate.”

The event was also a chance for voters to get to know Michael Bocchino, the Republican candidate for the 150th District in the state legislature. He and Democrat Jill Oberlander are both running to succeed state Rep. Stephen Walko, who is not running for a second term after he and his family moved out of the district and into the 149th, potentially leaving an avenue for him to run there in 2016 if he chose. Well known in town for his work on the Byram Neighborhood Association, Mr. Bocchino is a first-time candidate for political office, and he sought to get Greenwich Republicans solidly behind him.

“At the end of the day, I am doing this for my kids,” Mr. Bocchino said. “I’m planning for their success like most families plan for the success of their kids. We read to them every day when they’re little. We help them with their math homework. We applaud and clap at their graduations. After all that effort and the time we spend with them, we send them off into the real world for success. But we can’t do that if we’re sending our children off into a failing state. We need to take the same consideration that we do for our children, those same thoughts and those same faithful decisions, and work toward Connecticut’s success. The same care and same attention needs to go into our state’s fundamentals of government.”

Mr. Bocchino called for fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets in Hartford and pledged to be there to listen to the concerns and needs of the residents. He is a town native, and the party has stressed Mr. Bocchino’s strong ties to Greenwich as part of the campaign.

“Nobody is more grounded in Greenwich than Mike Bocchino,” Mr. Campbell said. “As he campaigns across the 150th, across the shoreline district, no one should be in any doubt about who the voters are going to choose on Nov. 4.”

State Rep. Fred Camillo (R-151st) does not have an opponent as he seeks his fourth term in office this November, and while state Sen. L. Scott Frantz (R-36th) is facing a challenge from Green Party candidate Edward Heflin, the Democrats have sat out his re-election race, too. Both men attended the clambake as well, and even though their re-elections are assured, they urged everyone to get out the vote to boost the Republican ticket.

[email protected]

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© Hersam Acorn. All rights reserved. The Greenwich Post, 10 Corbin Drive, Floor 3, Darien, CT 06820

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress