Letter: What Would It Mean for CT to Become a Red State?

Letter to the editor submitted by Nerlyn Pierson, Greenwich

We are at a precipice in Connecticut. Many believe that Connecticut is a “safe” blue state. But, how “blue” are we? Since the 1970’s with the formation of the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Republican party (the “GOP”) instituted a long-term strategy to gain legislature control and set policy in each of the 50 states.

Over these 40+ years, the GOP has not wavered: they currently control 27 states compared to only 14 states they controlled in 2009. You can see the effectiveness of their strategy in Connecticut’s current political map. Election trends indicate that Connecticut could easily become a “red” state in 2018. Since 2008, Democrats have lost 35 state house seats and 6 state senate seats. If the Democrats lose 4 state house seats in this coming election, the GOP will control the House. The CT’s State General Assembly’s current composition at the state Senate is tied with 18 Democrats and 18 Republicans. With an even split, the Lt. Governor of the party that holds the governor seat has the tie breaking vote in the Senate. If the Democrats lose one senate seat in this coming election, or if the Senate remains tied but the governorship goes to the Republicans, the GOP will control the Senate.

What would it mean for Connecticut and its residents if CT does go “red” in 2018? We can look to what the GOP has done throughout the country when they have taken state legislature control. They use institutions like the Heritage Foundation, ALEC and the State Policy Network (organizations funded by conservative donors such as Charles and David Koch with hundreds of millions of dollars) to empower Republican state legislators and governors with legislation aimed at pushing the GOP policy agenda: reduce labor power, cut taxes, 1 limit abortion rights, 2 suppress the vote by adding restrictions on voting that disproportionately affect Democratic constituencies, 3 expand gun rights 4 and weaken environmental regulations.

We’ve even seen glimpses of what would happen with our own Republican Greenwich Delegation if CT goes “red”: (i) the introduction of anti-abortion legislation by Fred Camillo; (ii) Scott Frantz sponsoring amendments to weaken gun law bills; (iii) Frantz, Livvy Floren and Mike Bocchino voting in their respective committees against paid family and medical leave; (iv) Bocchino voting against higher minimum wage and co-sponsoring no less than 15 amendments to the minimum wage bill designed to weaken it; and (v) Floren introducing an amendment requiring photo I.D. to vote in Connecticut. We would also have the very high likelihood of ending up like Kansas with Bob Stefanowski’s tax plan: a tax plan that will starve the state of necessary funds for our schools and other essential services.

With a GOP controlled Connecticut legislature, the bills and amendments noted above have a real chance of becoming law. Core values and beliefs that may be important to you would be in jeopardy (environment, gun safety, access to affordable health, education funding, wage discrimination and family and medical leave, women’s health and reproductive rights and voting rights). There would be no backstop.

We need leaders who will work to protect the fundamental values and rights that the majority of Connecticut and Greenwich residents cherish. We don’t need leaders that will further the GOP state legislative strategy and rarely, if ever, break from GOP party line. Unfortunately, with the exception of Livvy Floren, that is what we get from our Republican Greenwich Delegation. Simply look at their voting history.

At the town debate a few weeks back, Bocchino said on numerous occasions that Democrats have been in power in CT for over 30 plus years and it’s time for change. What he failed to mention is that Republicans have been in power in Greenwich for close to 100 years with no Democratic representation in either the Senate or House state General Assembly. I agree with Bocchino.

It’s time for a change. It’s time to flip Greenwich blue. It’s time to safeguard our fundamental values and rights from a GOP determined to undermine those values and rights through legislature control. We cannot take these rights for granted. We must fight for them. We must protect them. We must VOTE for them.

1 In Kansas, they adopted a tax plan that starved the state of funds for its schools and other services, and in Oklahoma, they adopted a tax plan that left the state practically insolvent.

2 According to the Guttmacher Institute, “there are 21 states that have enacted a clearly unconstitutional (under current law) abortion ban, including four with “trigger” laws that would instantly ban abortion entirely if Roe is reversed.” See, Kilgore, Ed. “If Roe Falls, Abortion Will Be In Danger In States Under Republican Control, Regardless
of Polls.” NYMAG (Internet). July 27, 2018. Available from New York Magazine.

3 In Wisconsin, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Georgia and Alabama, the GOP drew up legislative and congressional district maps, which are currently in federal court because of concerns about racial gerrymandering. In North Dakota, they passed voter suppression legislation to disenfranchise the Native American vote.

4 After the Parkland shooting, many GOP states pushed forward with a pro-gun policy agenda. “In Tennessee, county commissioners were granted the ability to carry concealed handguns in their workplaces. Oklahoma approved a bill allowing permit holders to carry handguns while scouting. Nebraska lawmakers enacted a long-sought bill shielding all documents related to gun permits from the state’s open records law. In South Carolina, where a state senator was killed in the 2015 church shooting in Charleston, lawmakers rejected a simple bill requiring court clerks to enter convictions and restraining orders in a timely fashion to strip gun rights from people who have been disqualified from possessing firearms.” See, Foley, Ryan J. “No widespread changes in gun laws after recent shootings.” APNews (Internet). September
26, 2018.

Note: The deadline for letters in support of candidates in the November 6, 2018 election was Monday, October 29, 2018.

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