Republicans endorsed Themis Klarides, of Madison, as the party candidate for senate to run against Democrat Richard Blumenthal who has held the office since 2011.
“Simply put, Dick Blumenthal’s priorities are not our priorities,” Klarides said from the convention stage.
Klarides, who earned 57 percent of the vote, may face competition in the primary against Leora Levy of Greenwich, a member of the Republican National Committee, who earned 23 percent and Peter Lumaj of Fairfield, a conservative who ran for secretary of the state in 2014 and for governor in 2018, with 20 percent.
Candidates who earn more than 15 percent of the vote can opt to participate in a primary automatically, others can participate if they gather signatures and petition by June 7.
Nominee Robert Hyde, of Simsbury, earned .33 percent of the vote and John Flynn, of Norwalk, earned .08 percent.
Klarides, who described herself as a ‘loud-mouthed Greek girl,’ said that statesmanship has taken a backseat to gamesmanship in the U.S. Senate, with core values and guiding principles replaced by cheap, political rhetoric
“Freedom and individual responsibility are being crowded out by government overreach, oppressive mandates, cancel culture, and economic policies that make it harder every day for families to achieve that American dream,” she said.
“Perhaps no member of the Senate is more responsible for this than our very own ‘Joe Biden’ of Connecticut: Richard Blumenthal,” said Klarides.
The crowd booed in response to the mention of Blumenthal’s name.
Klarides said that Blumenthal has not helped with “record inflation that is crippling our families,” crime, and asked, “What are your children learning in school?”
“Help is on the way. This is our year,” Klarides concluded, to a standing ovation from the attendees on the convention floor.
Some at the convention expressed the fear that if Levy and Lumaj advanced to a primary, it could weaken the chances of a Republican win against Blumenthal.
Rich Sileo, a member of Thomaston’s Board of Finance, said he’d prefer to have one candidate, “especially when you’re going against someone who is an institutional candidate.”
Alden Russell, from New Britain, also hoped for a single candidate. “It’s never good to have a three-way split,” he said. “It makes it harder for a newcomer to win the election.”
Others were excited by the idea of three Republican candidates.
“You have two other candidates who are both showing more than 15 percent support, which will allow the wider population to decide who they want their standard bearer to be,” Ken Nowell, a Torrington resident, said.
Rogers Pylant of Middletown, who said he supports Levy, said having three people in the primary shows the Republican party reflects a broad “bench” of viewpoints.
Thomas Amatruda, of Woodbury, said that the numbers show that “60 percent are going for the establishment and 40 percent are going for more conservative candidates”
He said that the party will back whoever wins the primary. “The most important thing is to defeat Blumenthal in November.”
Editor’s note: This story was edited to reflect that a 15% threshold the in the convention automatically qualifies a candidate for a primary