BRIDGEPORT — Ethan Book — small business owner, former banker and 4-time candidate for the 128th district – has thrown his hat into the ring for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Congressman Jim Himes for the 4th district seat Himes has held since 2009.
“All the polls show that people are disappointed with the Biden administration. And so it seems like what I’m seeing is a wave where I have the opportunity to catch the wave,” Book, 73, told CT Examiner.
Book said he’s running because of the “lack of attention to the full package of issues I have raised” concerning a reaffirmation of Republican ideology, coupled with “what is clearly a political swing, from liberal to more conservative,” from Democrat to more Republican.
“My campaign slogan is ‘A Return to Order.’ Very important!” Book wrote in an email.
Book’s competitors for the nomination are Republicans Jayme Stevenson, former first selectman of Darien, who has called herself a “new breed of Republican,” and Michael Goldstein, an ophthalmologist and attorney from Greenwich, who said he will focus on “prosperity, liberty and security.”
“A key thrust of my campaign is that I’m presenting as a foundation, a reaffirmation of Republican ideology and I give four points that I compare with Democratic ideology,” said Book, who lives in Bridgeport.
Adherence to conservative policies on budgets and taxes was his first point.
“Our debt to GDP ratio is 1.33 to 1. That’s dangerously high,” Book said. “We are in serious trouble financially. A lot of people are not aware of how serious and tenuous that is, but we need to tighten the belt on spending and there needs to be more discipline on that,” he said.
For areas to cut, he said it was important to examine items included in the recent
infrastructure packages because some were not specifically infrastructure-related.
“Like clean energy – that might not be a bad idea but that’s not infrastructure. And things like the federal funding of Planned Parenthood and things like universal child care — these are not infrastructure matters and so there needs to be more thought put to those types of things.”
Book’s second point was adherence to conservative social policies.
“I distinguish myself from the other two candidates more so because I am conservative on social policies, such as I am pro life,” said Book.
He said he has studied Roe v. Wade and found flaws with the court defining privacy as a right for a woman to make a decision for abortion.
“From my review anywhere in court cases where a privacy right is considered, it’s always considered in a broader context not just for one sole individual. If the court wants to consider a privacy right for women to consider abortion, then the privacy right of the father and the fetus should also be considered. This changes the equation quite a bit, but is, I believe, a humane way of looking at it,” he said.
Book said he is “tolerant of the homosexual agenda” but conservative on same sex marriage. He said he disagreed with the argument in Obergefell v. Hodges that the sexes are similarly situated.
“The sexes are not similarly situated because no man in a same sex relationship can can really be the same effect as a mother for the children. And conversely, no woman in a same sex marriage can have the same impact and effect as a male on children.”
Book’s third point was adherence to the principles of a constitutional republic. He said he believes in the Constitution as it was written.
“The Constitution as it was written is a good document, extending the earlier principles of the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. It wasn’t perfect. It was good and allowed a process for amendment,” Book wrote on his web site. “The constitutional principles establish limited government (which fosters a capitalist system of government, not intended to operate without limited, reasonable regulations) and principles of freedom.”
“An affirmation that we are a Judeo-Christian nation” that is part of “our national heritage and identity,” was Book’s fourth point.
Book said he is tolerant of other faiths “just as our Founding Fathers.” He said his affirmation of the U.S. as a Judeo-Christian nation does not mean he discriminates against other faiths or is intolerant.
“I think it’s wholly within the Christian faith to be tolerant. But Republicans talk more about faith in God than Democrats do. And that is a difference. And that’s one of the differences that I think is important to recognize,” he said.
Book has a background in international banking and worked in Latin American and later in New York City for Bank of America.
“I was in Central America during the Central American Revolution, the Nicaraguan Revolution. I’m an international banker that has true war stories,” he said.
While in New York he had a role in the completion of construction financing for the electrical transmission interconnection between Hydro-Québec and New England, Book said.
“I can say that I had a role in putting together a project that, over a period of two and a half decades, has saved New Englanders better than $5 billion,” he said.
He said that in 2003 he began advocating to reduce the number of inmates in Connecticut, and that by 2016 — even before Gov. Dannel Malloy had instituted his early release program — the number of inmates had been reduced from just over 19,000 to about 16,000.
Book has owned and operated New England Limousine Service in Fairfield since 1989. He lives in The Hollow section of Bridgeport. “That’s the inner city,” he said.
“I’m comfortable in the urban environment and I don’t think either of the other two candidates can say this,” he said. “I’m fluent in Spanish, and so I think that’s a tremendous advantage — all of that is a tremendous advantage,” he said.
In 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020, Book ran against state Rep. Christopher Rosario, D-Bridgeport, for the 128th District, and lost each election. But he said he made positive strides for the Republican party each time he ran.
“The first time I ran in 2014, the Democrat to Republican ratio in the 128th District … was over 20 to 1. I have a knack for getting voter registrations and by 2020, essentially [because of] my efforts, the last time I ran, the voter ratio was down below 13 to 1, a reduction of the ratio of 35%,” Book wrote in an email.
He said that each time he ran, he received more votes than double the percentage of Republican registered voters compared to the number of votes of Democratic voters.
“Simply lay the same trend over the current estimated 3 to 2 Dem to Repub ratio of registered voters in the 4th Congressional District and there is good promise of a victory for my candidacy,” he said in an email.
During each of his campaigns, Book said he observed problems with election integrity — at least 40 percent of the voter list included people who had moved away or were deceased. He said he repeatedly explained the issues to the Registrars of Voters but saw no change in canvassing practices.
In 2020, Book initiated a civil lawsuit against the Bridgeport Registrar of Voters and Denise Merrill, Secretary of the State, seeking a declaratory ruling that the defendants had been negligent and/or “committed constitutional violations” for six claims. The court issued a Memorandum of Motions to Dismiss on Jan. 13, 2022. Book has filed a Motion for Reconsideration of Court Denial of Unopposed Motion for Disqualification and a supplement to that motion.
Regarding the 2020 presidential election, Book said that he believes that even though there was “probably more voter fraud than has been identified,” the election was bought rather than stolen or rigged.
“I certainly think the election was bought, bought in the sense of mainstream media and social media, distorting the news – being critical against Trump, not raising all the full issues regarding Biden, and also even what came out in today’s New York Post about his son, matters that were surfaced by the New York Post in October of 2020.”
Book said that if former President Trump were to endorse his campaign, he would accept.
“You know, there’s not an issue that I would accept his endorsement. If the question is, would I support Trump if he runs again? I would wait and see what happens. Which is what I plan to do,” he said.
Regarding Himes, Book said he took issue with the incumbent’s membership on the Domestic Intelligence Committee for four years under the Trump administration and “talking publicly about evidence of ‘Trump-Russia’ collusion.” Book said that after the 2020 election, it was found there was never any evidence of collusion.
“If [Himes] was on that committee saying that there was evidence and it turned out that there was never anything, I can say that he has given us Biden and given the track record and performance record of the Biden administration,” Book said. “This is a very serious issue for Jim Himes… he talks like a moderate yet he is a leader in the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”
Book said that “even most Democrats are not really progressives,” which, he said, could create an opportunity for the Republicans in the coming election.
“If you couple the non-progressive Democrats with Republicans, and then have a few changes of policy or platform, that can energize some of the people that haven’t voted — we’ve got a formula for a good Republican like myself to win over Himes,” he said.
Asked what he wanted to say to voters, Book quoted former President Ronald Reagan.
“America stands on four main values, faith in God, freedom of speech, family, and economic freedom. If fascism ever comes to America, it will come in the name of liberalism.”