NEW BRITAIN – In a strip mall storefront packed with politicians giving bilingual speeches in Spanish and English that were dominated by calls to action to urban minority voters, the message at the opening of a Republican National Committee “community center” Wednesday was impossible to miss.
“When you see us door-knocking in the projects you know what’s up – we’re coming to get your vote,” Republican city Mayor Erin Stewart said to cheers from dozens crammed into the space that was until recently her own campaign office. “This is our election to lose and we cannot let that happen.”
In a release, the Republican National Committee called the West Main Street center “part of the RNC’s multi-million-dollar investment in expanding its presence and engagement efforts in minority communities in New Britain, throughout the state, and across the country” in advance of the November elections.
Speaker after speaker echoed that theme, and many spoke in Spanish before repeating their speech in English.
“Mi nombre George Logan,” opened the remarks of the former State Senator from Waterbury, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Jahana Hayes for the state’s 5th District seat in the U.S. Congress.
Turning to English, Logan said: “As a Republican, an African-American, an Afro-Latino, I believe it is essential that we collectively get our message out of equal opportunity, free enterprise, free of big government and protection of our constitutional rights. That is something that is important to all of us, regardless of race, creed or economic status.”
Logan called the RNC center “a huge milestone in the quest to grow our party and attract more voters in one of the most crucial elections of our lifetime.”
Leora Levy, a Cuban-American RNC member from Greenwich seeking the party’s nomination to run against incumbent Democrat Richard Blumenthal for U.S. Senate, also gave a rendition of her remarks in Spanish.
When she switched to English, Levy said it was “For all the gringos here…that’s a term of endearment.”
She described the office’s opening as a sign that “The Republican party is coming to us. I know the importance of this center to the Hispanic and African-American community and frankly to all voters in Connecticut because together we will change Connecticut.”
State Republican party Chairman Ben Proto was blunt in his assessment of the apparent novelty of opening an RNC-staffed campaign office in an urban area.
“For too many years people have asked how are we going to reach the minority communities,” he said. “We always knew how to do it – we just never did it.”
RNC Chairman Ronna McDaniel, the niece of Republican U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said one of the party’s main priorities is attracting “non-traditional” voters such as those that will be targeted for contact through the community center.
“People are going to say ‘Why are you in New Britain? Why is the RNC here?’” she said. “You know why? Because we can win.”
McDaniel and others said the widely-unpopular presidency of Democrat Joe Biden has given Republicans the fuel they think they need to take back the White House and other races around the country.
She specifically pointed to the expected rematch for Connecticut governor between sitting Democrat Gov. Ned Lamont and Republican Bob Stefanowski.
“This is the year the American people are waking up because we are suffering – suffering under the leadership of Democrats,” she said.
Biden’s performance and his State of the Union speech the previous evening was the subject of many derisive comments from speakers and the audience, including at least one call of “Let’s Go Brandon,” from the crowd.
Noting her own election success and those of other Republicans who now hold majorities on New Britain’s city council and board of education, Mayor Stewart said:
“The national headwinds are at our back. The guy in the White House is making it easy to be a Republican here in Connecticut.”