Updated 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 18, with Bruce Morris comment.
NORWALK, Conn. – Political rhetoric appeared to have been ratcheted up a notch or six Monday night when traditional Republican complaints about “tax and spend liberals” and Democrats selling out to the unions gave way to a new label: Pirates.
“From the top of the Democrat Party they act like pirates, and from the bottom, not a word from their mouths can be trusted,” said Republican Harold Bonnet in accepting the nomination to run for state representative in the 104th District. “Honestly, our goal as Republicans, the point to respect our word is our integrity.”
The pirate comment, along with some other curious phrasing, drew a bemused reaction from some readers, and an indignant reaction from Common Councilman Bruce Kimmel (D-At Large), who caucuses with the Republicans and ran last fall with a Republican endorsement.
Kimmel, in comments posted on NancyOnNorwalk, said, “As an elected Democrat who works hard to improve Norwalk, and as someone who believes in bipartisanship, I find many of the above comments repugnant. I believe a formal apology should be made by the candidate to all the trustful and hard working Democrats in Norwalk; and, despite what the candidate may think, there are many. I also believe that the Republican Town Committee should publicly disassociate itself from these comments.”
In a second post, Kimmel pointed out that he had taken local Democrats to task in the past, and distanced himself from the organization, but “never questioned the personal integrity and essential decency of the vast majority of Democrats in Norwalk.”
Republican Town Committee Chairman Peter Torrano, in a phone interview Tuesday night, said it was culture and language that led to the “pirate” remark.
“I recognize and understand why some people would be upset,” he said. “If I just read it as written and didn’t know better, I’d be upset, too.”
Torrano said he questioned Bonnet about the phrase.
“In Haiti, calling someone a pirate is very common,” he said. Bonnet was making the point that he felt the Democrats in charge in Hartford – as well as President Obama – are taxing too much and sending too little back to the people.
“He said that Republicans tax less and give back more,” Torrano said.
Torrano admitted that Bonnet, who moved her from Haiti seven years ago, still struggles with the language. That, he said, explained some of the other confusing comments, such as “The problem is incompetence and I can say, yes, flattery. The capitalist economic system was made to fly over any swift conspiration intern and any kind of colonialization extern such as autocracy of national culture, globalization.”
Torrano said the language might have been confusing, but there is no questioning the candidate’s dedication to the Republican Party and to what he believes are American principals.
“He cares, he’s really into it,” Torrano said. “He’s a hard worker, and he’s extremely proud of being an American.”
Bonnet has said in the past that he did not want to direct his message to the growing Haitian community, Torrano said. “He said, ‘I don’t want to be known as the Haitian politician. I am an American.”
Torrano said he communicated with Kimmel and explained the situation. He acknowledged that Kimmel had contacted him before posting on NoN. Kimmel also shared his email to Torrano with NoN.
Requests for additional comments from Kimmel, and requests for comment from Democratic Town Committee Chairman Ed Camacho, went unanswered.
Incumbent 140th state Rep. Bruce Morris, the endorsed Dem candidate, responded Wednesday.
“My campaigns and work as a legislator have always been focused on uniting the people of our community,” he said. “No matter your party affiliation, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, or economic status, government is meant to work for the betterment of all the people.
“As always, I will run a campaign on the issues and about how we can continue to move Norwalk forward,” Morris said. “I hope the Republican candidate will do likewise in the future.”
Earleri, Democrat Warren Peña, who petitioned his way onto the ballot for a primary runoff with Morris, said, “I wish Mr. Bonnet well in his run for state office. I do not know him nor have I ever met him. However, he should choose his words wisely as he is now in the public eye running for elected office.”