Connecticut GOP chair points to 'a number of successes' for Republican Party in the 2022 election
Connecticut Republicans weren't able to win any statewide office elections in November because of the difficulty in beating incumbents like Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont, the state GOP chair said.
Connecticut Republican Chair Ben Proto said that if you don't give voters a reason to vote out incumbents, running against one is like interviewing for a job that's not really open.
Proto also pointed to significant turnout by younger voters, who he said tend to vote more on issues like abortion than on economic issues.
However, Proto said the state GOP should be encouraged by down-ballot candidates who outperformed candidates at the top of the ticket.
He also said poor turnout in some of Connecticut's largest cities indicates that Democrats in those cities are less than enamored with Democratic candidates and policies.
Proto talked with Connecticut Public:
John Henry Smith: At first glance, election night was not exactly successful for state Republicans. Was it successful on levels that are not readily apparent at first glance?
Ben Proto: I think there were a number of successes that we had. When we look at particularly our local races, the state representative and state senator races, we had a number of those races that we were not successful in, but where our candidate outperformed the top of the ticket. And what that tells us is that the message that we had at that local level was working.
John Henry Smith: Connecticut League of Women Voters President Laura Smits said the decline that you're speaking of is evidence of how challenging it can be for city voters to get to the polls, meaning taking the bus, finding childcare and taking time off from work. What do you make of that argument?
Ben Proto: They had no problem turning out in previous elections for governor ... and presidentials and municipals. But all of a sudden, they can't figure out how to get to the polls in those cities.
At the end of the day, I think we're going to see that there was a higher turnout among the Gen Z and millennial voters than we've seen in the past. They tend to be more attuned to the social issues than the economic issues. So I think at the end of the day, the social issues played out more heavily than the economic issues for a lot of folks. And we didn't necessarily respond to those issues as well as we could.
I also will tell you that we had some of our Republican friends down in Washington who simply had foot-in-mouth disease. I don't know why [South Carolina U.S. Sen.] Lindsey Graham thought it was a good idea to come out in the middle of an election when he wasn't up for election to talk about a national law on abortion. I don't know why [Florida U.S. Sen.] Rick Scott's talking about Medicare and Social Security changes was a good idea in the middle of an election that he was trying to win [in] the United States Senate, too. That did not help us anywhere in the country, and particularly in the Northeast.
These interview highlights have been edited and condensed for clarity.