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Norwalk Republicans consider ‘tough times’

From left, Norwalk Common Council member Ernie Dumas (D-District B), Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman Mark Suda and Norwalk Police Lt. Bruce Hume chat outside Columbus Magnet School on Election Day.

The election is over. Some thinking planning for 2021 should start now.

NORWALK, Conn. – Among Norwalk’s beleaguered Republicans, struggling to come to terms with an election in which they were all but shut out, there seems to be widespread agreement: Happy Days Aren’t Here Again. Beyond that, perspectives vary.

Republican Town Committee Chairman Mark Suda thinks the tide will change; former RTC Chairman Victor Cavallo, who was ousted after the 2017 election disaster, speaks of scapegoating and pessimism that what he sees as deep structural issues in the RTC can be repaired. Exiting Common Council member Doug Hempstead recommends rebranding and “distancing” from national issues, while former RTC Chairman Pete Torrano calls attempts to associate local Republicans with President Donald Trump a smokescreen.

Here’s a sampling:

 

‘What can I say?’

Suda sent out an email blast to the Town Committee two days after the election, in which he listed the Republicans who won on Nov. 5:

  • Richard A McQuaid – Town Clerk
  • Thomas Keegan – District D Council
  • Read Auerbach – Third Taxing District Treasurer
  • Shannon O’Toole Giandurco – Selectman
  • Frank Mauro – Constable
  • Peter Bondi –  Constable
  • Tamsen C.Langalis – Sixth Taxing District Commissioner
  • Gilbert Kernan – Sixth Taxing District Treasurer

 

Translation: Republicans won one Council seat, no Board of Education seats and lost a hard-fought Mayoral contest. Suda wrote:

“Well RTC what can I say?

“…While I spent the day at the polls, I heard and saw people proud of what we stand for and the change that is needed for Norwalk. I also saw pure hatred for our President. This in turn may have led to fewer Republican votes no matter what our candidates’ platforms were.

“…These are very tough times as we speak for our candidates to get elected in this city. The free passes, broken promises, and its “so great to be a millennial attitude” to live in this city is going to wear out over time and hurt this great City. It is already hurting the middle class hardworking citizens that are just trying to keep up with the Jones’ and are just trying to stay afloat to pay their bills.

“I truly believe over the next few years the tides will change and the people will wake up and see when their services are cut, taxes go up, and the small change that they were able to save in their pockets have to be spent.”

 

 

Witch hunts and scapegoating

NancyOnNorwalk reached out to former RTC Chairmen. That included Cavallo, who was sacked in March 2018 after nearly identical election results. Cavallo wrote:

“I’m not so sure that the Norwalk RTC deep state in 2017 could have deluded itself to expect better results with a freshman chairman as opposed to looking to fulfill the hunt for a witch on whom to cast blame for the RTC’s political misfortunes.

 “Since 2017, the scapegoating has become increasingly more intense and irrepressible.  I was the only witch in 2017, blamed for the mayoral loss and the 14-1 rout of the council elections; this because I wouldn’t endorse and enforce a backroom deal to substitute one mayoral candidate for another just one month before the election; a deal that wasn’t honored by the then Republican mayoral candidate.

“In 2018, when I was out of the picture, the scapegoating was heaved upon Nancy on Norwalk – blamed for the 25th senatorial district loss and sued for good measure – along with assigning blame to a fictive rock thought to possess enough witchy powers to capture the attention of the electorate.

 “In 2019, the witch hunt evolved to the ridiculous: spanning the divide from the President of the United States to the Norwalk Registrar of Voters.

“Whether my successor will be scapegoated for the 2018 and 2019 election losses remains to be seen.

“I had recused myself from active participation in town committee affairs for the past two election cycles so as to avert any possible blame for the outcome of those elections. I predicted the 2019 municipal election results would mirror 2017. I wasn’t the only one. The factors contributing to the losses are deeply structural and which few if any on the RTC understand and are willing to correct.

“I will have no part in embroiling my successor in a campaign to replace him, if that is the wish of the RTC deep state. The chairmanship of a town committee is an infamously thankless job.  Few chairs walk away from the role without being towed, crushed and melted like a junk car. I know. And my empathy is boundless for anyone who has and will succeed me.”

 

Bringing up Trump at every turn? 

Former RTC Chairman Andy Conroy did not reply to an email. Torrano, who has moved to South Carolina, declined to talk about the electoral loss but wrote:

“As for the Trump thing, it’s just a smokescreen put out by those who will say anything to disparage an opposition candidate. There is nobody in Norwalk who runs as a Republican who does it to support Trump. They do it to serve Norwalk. It’s juvenile, but apparently effective to bring up Trump at every turn. “And not just Trump, but the list includes:
“Homophobic, racist, misogynistic, ageism, xenophobic, and any other word that can rile people up. In my opinion it’s offensive to call someone any of these things without solid proof. Oftentimes it it said because someone or some group or community decides someone is any of the aforementioned things based on an opposing position they don’t favor. So rather than debate the issues they hide behind contrived assumptions of offensive thoughts or actions. Easier to slander than to debate.”

 

‘That’s a big thing’

On Election Night, NancyOnNorwalk asked Hempstead how Republicans would recover from two devastating losses in a row.

“I don’t have an answer for you,” Hempstead said. “…We talked about … rebranding and separating us from the national stuff. Number one. I think that’s a big thing and people don’t get it locally. We’re not focused on the national side. I think it’s trying to make sure people understand that image because, just in my books, the system is rigged by both parties because you have to either be a Republican or Democrat to really ever get on the ballot anywhere. Having been a chairman of an independent party in Norwalk, those are the challenges.”

Republicans have to be “more pointed” with issues are set a platform,” he said. “I’m not sure we were clear in our message on platform.”

Shouldn’t local Republicans have denounced Trump?

“I think it’s a damned if you do and damned if you don’t,” Hempstead said. “If you go out and say, ‘Trump is a blankety blank’…  the hardcore Republicans are going to be ‘you can’t do that.’ Right? But the Dems can say, ‘See?’ They’re not going to support you anyhow. So, it’s a dilemma. What do you do?”

 

Two thoughts

Suda’s email quoted two unsuccessful candidates.

“One of my favorite sayings in life is ‘sometimes the better team loses.’ This time it did,” Scott Vetare, who ran for sheriff, is quoted as saying.

“I would ask all of us to start thinking about how we approach things differently,” Carl Dickens, a District D Council candidate, is quoted as saying. “Cycles indeed change, but we can be the change agent to move that along. Big strides have been made in communication, but much more is needed, both internal and external. Let’s build upon our history, our knowledge base, and the intelligence the RTC has to make us bigger and better than we already are.”

17 comments

Mike Mushak November 12, 2019 at 1:05 pm

Good reporting Nancy.

The Gallup poll as of Oct 31st 2019, just 2 weeks ago, had Trump’s job approval rating among registered Republicans at 89%. It was 7% among registered Democrats. This fact says it all.

My advice to my friends with the R next to their name: please stop pretending you are not connected to Trump. You are through your continuing support of this bad president.

What I’d like to know is, who the heck are those 7% of Democrats who approve the actions of the lying racist corrupt mob boss ? I digress.

Lisa Brinton was asked numerous times to condemn Trump and his regressive policies that affect every single Norwalker every day, and she refused.

The claim that Trump was not on the ticket is nonsense. Trump’s policies supported by the Republican Party affect us all, including policies on healthcare, education, women’s rights, gun control, immigration, LGBTQ rights including marriage equality (the official Republican Party platform supports outlawing my marriage to my husband based on a medieval interpretation of the Bible), safety net programs, environmental protection, climate change, scientific facts, infrastructure spending, fossil fuel energy reliance, etc etc. etc.

These regressive policies affect every Norwalker every day! Oh, wait, let’s not forget the retaliatory Republican Tax Bill based on bad math that gave tax breaks to the rich on the backs of the poor, added trillions to the national debt that contradicted any sense that Republicans are the party of fiscal responsibility, and increased taxes for CT residents with the regressive change on the SALT deductions aimed solely at blue states.

To borrow a popular phrase, this tacit approval of Trump by Lisa Brinton and the Republicans by not condemning him or his bad policies caused smart Norwalk voters to say “Bye Felicia” to anyone with an R next to their name.

Republicans will continue to suffer as long as they continue to support Trump. And stop blaming Democrats for connecting the dots. A comment on Nancy on Norwalk by Republican candidate Scott Vetere said it all:

“LISA 2019!
TRUMP 2020!”

All I had to do was republish that comment whenever Lisa claimed she had nothing to do with Trump. In the words of many of her own supporters including here on NoN, Trump was a big part of her campaign. You basically dug your own grave.

Enough said.

John ONeill November 12, 2019 at 2:04 pm

@Mike: It is my hope that Marijuana gets legalized in the next session. People need to de-stress, don’t you think? What’s your stance on the lack of ELL funding from Hartford/DC ? Would you agree our elected leaders have failed Norwalk in this regard? Knowing how you feel about Trump, keep in mind his administration has given us the same as Obama administration. That would be ZERO if my Math is correct.

JustATaxpayer November 12, 2019 at 3:12 pm

A glass of water with a ‘D’ on it wins in Norwalk. So, let’s not get all aroused over graves being dug here.

John Levin November 12, 2019 at 4:17 pm

Sadly – the only part of Mike Mushak’s comment that I don’t agree with is that he doesn’t go far enough. The republican party, just like all of the other political parties, has had many incarnations since its 1854 founding. The current one is absolutely horrific: former registered Democrat and ideologically unaffiliated Donald Trump has completely hijacked our party, much as Hitler hijacked Germany in 1933. Republicans who have enabled this serial liar and malignant narcissist have done enough damage to our party that it will take decades to repair. They have sold us out to Trump, who they either fear or love, and as a result the republican brand is badly damaged. I find it deeply distressing that this result is reflected even in such hyperlocal elections as Norwalk’s recent ones. Further, I believe that we all are harmed by one party rule – the democrats included, as loyal opposition is needed to keep the incumbent power holders both honest and effective. Please – can someone, some courageous leader, in our local republican party please recognize that Trump is a disaster for both our party and our country, call him out, disavow his supporters, and start rebuilding now rather than waiting until everything is worse. No room for excuses.

Peter Torrano November 12, 2019 at 5:19 pm

Mike

I do not hear your outrage and condemnation of the many democrats who are criminals or politically repugnant.

Are you denouncing Ganim, the ex-con felon running Bridgeport? Bad person to quote you.

Are you railing against Ilan Omar when she disparages Jews, blaming everything on “Benjamins” and calling for the destruction of western capitalism? Bad person in your view? She is in mine.

How about Rashida Tlaib? Think what you want about your president, but is an anti-Jew who as a congressperson calls your president a “m***er f***er a credible representative of your chosen party? Are you not offended by her crassness and hate? Will you denounce her as you so predictably do with your president?

What do you think of the 60+ million Americans who are so tired of the smug attitude of the all-knowing left that they broke away from traditional politicians and voted in your president? What derogatory name do you have for them? For me?

Pervert Anthony Weiner, cultural thief Elizabeth Warren, groper Joe Biden, sexual predator Al Franken, Shyster Al Sharpton, etc, etc. deadly silence from you. Why? Is it because they support your agenda? Are they really, really nice people in your mind?

But no one accused any of your candidates of being puppets to them. No one tied the mayor or Bob Duff to them. Nobody in the Republican Party sinks so low or are stupid enough to believe that a council candidate, mayoral candidate or dog catcher running as a democrat has any ties or allegiance to the list of shady characters listed above. The ones you have never spoken out against. Not a peep.

Just to clarify and to end any conspiracy theory you may have, Trump did not demand or ask that I write this. I did it in response to your endless misstatements and flights of fancies.

Other that that, how’ve you been. My friend?

Bill Nightingale November 12, 2019 at 8:15 pm

RIP GOP! Maybe if Republicans start strongly denouncing Trump now will there be a small chance for some redemption when history judges.

Scott Vetare November 12, 2019 at 9:05 pm

Thanks for mentioning me Mike. You keep bringing me up in your posts. I must be right because you’re so wrong. Lol. Thanks again!
Spot on Mr. Torrano. I doubt he’ll answer you though….

Mike Mushak November 12, 2019 at 10:04 pm

@Pete Torrano, I’m fine, my friend, and I hope you are well in Florida. I’ll make you feel better, and tell you it’s 29 at 9:30 pm and heading down to 22 at 6 am. And half the leaves are still on the trees so we can enjoy frozen wet leaves until early December.

Now about that comparison you made between the mayor of Bridgeport and the president of the United States. Really? We call that “whataboutism” and it’s a common trait among Trump’s brainwashed cult members.

I’m not so sure Bridgeport’s Mayor Ganim would be flattered to know you compared his small town graft (which he paid his debt to society for) to Trump’s compromising of national security, favoring our enemies over our allies, stealing children from their parents never to be reunited again, calling brave decorated military veterans “human scum” for telling the truth, saying white supremacists are “good people”, saying Mexicans are “rapists and murderers”, bragging he grabbed women by their genitalia and they loved it just because he was powerful, slept with a porn star while his wife was pregnant with their child, told black congresswomen to “go back where you came from”, opened up wilderness areas to oil drilling, wants to throw 25 million people off of healthcare, reversed regulations that protect our air and water from killing us, etc etc etc. Oh, and that little thing called extortion and bribery that he is being impeached for.

Your comparison, my friend, says a lot more than you intended, and confirms my belief that Republicans must have their collective heads up their posterior region if they think Trump is doing a good job and deserves respect.

I never cease to be both astonished and saddened by what has become of most Republicans these days (the 89% who approve of Trump). It’s as if you guys made a compromise with the devil for short term gains, and you’ll stick with it till the very end.

When the history books are written, it will be the die-hard Trump supporters who will be researched for their stubborn and self-destructive cognitive dissonance, like similar groups throughout history who I won’t bother naming but we all know who they are.

Have a good evening Pete!

John ONeill November 12, 2019 at 11:35 pm

@Mike – Still waiting for your thoughts on ELL question. You seem to have an opinion on everything but that. Have our elected representatives failed in garnering funds for this explosing issue?

Peter Torrano November 13, 2019 at 6:33 am

Hey Mike

32 degrees here this morning in SC. Not too far off from Norwalk.

Now, to clarify, I did not, at any time, defend Trump. I think you will agree with that. What I did was point out that you and many in your party are obsessed with attempting to make any elected office at any level an indictment of the candidate because he/she MUST, in your totally unbiased opinion (just kidding. You are obviously biased) support Trump. My comparison to some Dems of very dubious character probably did not go far enough.

So let’s do this: former President Clinton is an admitted sexual offender. He took advantage of his office to coerce a young star-struck intern into having sex in the Oval Office. And that is just one of the many highly offensive (highly offensive is a popular thing with the continuously offended left, if it can be used against anyone but a Democrat) acts committed by Clinton, and defended by Hillary. Did you support both of them in turn? Did anyone accuse a Democrat running for constable in Norwalk of being in Clinton’s back pocket?

It’s a foolish and unfounded argument posed by democrats to taint and destroy any republican candidate.

So I guess Ganim in his minor office as mayor, who paid for his indiscriminate behavior by serving 7 years in prison is now okay. All is forgiven. Now, do you forgive Roland. Would you support his right to be the gubernatorial candidate again, after his prison term? Would you rail against him as another despicable Republican, or welcome him to open debate with the opposition candidate? Don’t answer. It’s a trick question to which I already know the answer.

Well, I’ll leave it at that. You won’t change your mind or see my point of view. And quite frankly I can’t agree with yours. Fortunately, in America we are entitled to free speech and an exchange of ideas through debate. Unless you’re a Republican on a college campus.

Lisa November 13, 2019 at 6:56 am

No matter the party, single party rule is not good for a healthy democracy. The comments on this thread are a good example. No middle ground, no one to strike a compromise, no one to share ideas.

Ed Camacho November 13, 2019 at 10:55 am

@John O’Neill We are committed to providing meaningful educational opportunities to all our children, whatever their academic needs may be.

John ONeill November 13, 2019 at 1:03 pm

@Ed – Thank you. BUT, you have to agree getting ZERO dollars from State/Feds over last ten years for ELL programs is a travesty. Some would argue negligent. For goodness sakes, the program has more than doubled in size over that period. If there’s a roadblock, our elected leaders should let us know what it is. I emailed Bob Duff 3 times a number of weeks ago on the subject, and have heard nothing back. Being committed to and providing our two completely separate things. —
On a side note, I do respect what you’ve done to reinvigorate the Democratic Party in Norwalk. If you ever decide to become a free agent, the Republicans could use your help.

Republican-ish November 14, 2019 at 2:31 pm

Although I am a registered Republican, I will not vote for any Republican until the current President is out of office, along with an immoral and spineless Senate. If the Republican party wants to know why it can’t win an election, it’s because stuff flows down hill.

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