Republican spirits high with election closing in

Just through the sheer strength of the advantage they possess in registered voters, Election Day in Greenwich figures to be a good one for town Republicans.

But with state races on the ballot along with U.S. senator and the U.S. House of Representatives, not to mention a certain race for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C., the party says it’s taking nothing for granted. At the annual Cos Cob Republican Club Clambake this past Sunday, the Grand Old Party’s faithful gathered to say they will win again this November, not just because there are more Republicans than Democrats in town but because, they say, they have the best candidates.

Selectman David Theis, a member of the Cos Cob Republican Club, served as the unofficial master of ceremonies for the annual event, where lobster, steak and, of course, clams were enjoyed along with some red meat conservatism from the roster of speakers. But despite the fun spirit of the day, Mr. Theis told members they had to work for victory because the stakes were so high for November, saying the current policies of President Barack Obama have left people “dependent on government for all their wants and needs.”

“That would be the end of our democracy as we know it,” Mr. Theis said. “Most people, I’m convinced, have no idea how the cost of Obamacare and the related taxes are impacting their take-home pay. This is not a partisan issue, it’s a serious economic issue. It’s not about doing nice things for people, it’s about control. At a time when household incomes are down nearly 10%, the cost of living creeps higher and higher along with unemployment. Fortunately we have a solution and we have a great group of candidates who will reverse the politics of fear, despair, class warfare, and the redistribution of wealth.”

Republican Town Committee Chairman Jim Campbell also had words of warning, comparing “life under the Obama administration” to the concept of a frog being placed in water over a stovetop where the heat is gradually turned up so it doesn’t know it’s in danger until it’s too late.

“We’re in the real trouble stage,” Mr. Campbell said. “Four years of Obama have taken the life out of the economy and this country. Four more years and I don’t think the frog is ever going to make it out of the pot.”

A full roster of speakers was on tap for the event, but each candidate kept remarks brief. At some points it was even as if the event was running against the clock, which in some ways it was as rain clouds hovered ominously over the outdoor event at Greenwich Point and Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan was scheduled later that day for a fund-raiser at the home of state Sen. L. Scott Frantz (R-36th District), which several of the clambake attendees were also going to attend.

But all the candidates on the ballot got a chance to say a few words as the ticket was shown off to the gathered Republicans. Not only are Mr. Frantz and state Reps. Livvy Floren (R-149th District) and Fred Camillo (R-151st District) running for new terms but Greenwich resident Linda McMahon is locked in a tight race for the U.S. Senate and Westport businessman Steve Obsitnik is challenging U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th District) for Congress.

Ms. McMahon thanked all her supporters and said it was “always good to be home” in front of a Greenwich crowd. Both she and Mr. Obsitnik urged people to get involved and work on the campaign as well as the get-out-the-vote efforts.

“I really think our campaign is on the right track,” Ms. McMahon said. “We are continuing to crisscross the state and meet as many people as possible.”

Mr. Obsitnik was quick to attack in his remarks, saying that while Mr. Himes “believes he’s a moderate” he voted 94.1% of the time with the Democratic party, joking that even his wife, who was in attendance, “isn’t right 94.1% of the time.”

“You deserve better, the state of Connecticut deserves better and this country deserves better,” Mr. Obsitnik said. “We will get better on Nov. 6.”

The local candidates also got their time in the spotlight. A first-time candidate, Steve Walko, who is running against Democrat Stephanie Paulmeno to replace retiring state Rep. Lile Gibbons, said the state still faces a $143-million deficit after what he claimed was “the largest tax increase this state had ever seen.” Saying that wasn’t the direction the state should be going in, Mr. Walko pointed to his 11 years on the town’s Board of Estimate and Taxation as a reason he can turn that around.

“People come to Greenwich for the low tax rate, and we want to bring that same philosophy to Hartford,” Mr. Walko said.

Mr. Camillo is up for this third term and is running against Democrat David Rafferty. He said Republicans are making gains in the state but they can’t just focus on themselves in this coming election.

“We have to get out there and talk to people who are moderates and independents,” Mr. Camillo said. “The Republicans and Democrats have decided who they’re voting for. We need to spend the time knocking on doors and getting out there. Without that, we’ll be outworked and be back to where we were before.”

Ms. Floren, who is seeking a seventh term against Democrat John Blankley, said the clambake was always a highlight for her and praised her fellow candidates.

“Our entire ticket has business sense, common sense and a sense of humor,” Ms. Floren said. “We know how to get things done.”

The typically subdued Mr. Frantz, who is seeking a third term against Democrat Daniel Dauplaise, was in a bit of attack mode, training his fire mostly on Gov. Dannel Malloy and not his opponent on Nov. 6. He criticized the governor and the Democratic-controlled legislature for “a lot of horrible bills,” including one he claimed allowed for early release for violent criminals and for the recent decriminalization of possessing small amounts of marijuana. Mr. Frantz claimed that led to recent events like a son beating his father to death in Wilton “because he had problems with marijuana.”

“These are laws that we simply can’t afford to have,” Mr. Frantz said. “Republicans are not just synonymous with problem-solvers, but problems solved. We bring common sense to the table.”

Mr. Campbell told The Post that despite years of Republican success, people are still working as hard as ever to get their favored candidates elected. And he predicted that work and the skill of the candidates would lead to another big night for Greenwich Republicans on Nov. 6.

“It’s going to be a great election,” Mr. Campbell said. “Mitt Romney is going to win Greenwich. All the Republican candidates on the slate are going to win in town and we’re looking forward to a very big celebration that night. We never take anything for granted around here. The truth is the Democrats may be fielding candidates for all the legislative seats, but these aren’t going to be competitive elections. Our legislators are doing a great job and Steve Walko is a great candidate. I expect them to win easily because they deserve to.”

And the focus of the RTC won’t be just on the local elections but the congressional one as well. Republicans are looking to break the Democrats’ hold on all of Connecticut’s representatives to Washington, D.C., they’ve held since 2008, and Ms. McMahon’s close ties to Greenwich make her race an even more important one for the town’s GOP.

“We couldn’t be more charged about these races,” Mr. Campbell said. “Clearly they’re going to be close races, and that will get every Greenwich Republican and every independent who cares about the future of this state and this country out there voting for Republicans. Both Linda McMahon and Steve Obsitnik share at least one thing in common, and that is that they have not only run a business, they’ve started a business. They know how hard it is and they know how important it is. They know how to create jobs for Connecticut and for this country. Their opponents are creatures of government and know neither.”


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