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GOP Senate race: Themis Klarides raises most; Leora Levy loans herself more

Jacqueline Rabe Thomas
CT Mirror

Themis Klarides raised more money in the first three months of 2022 than any other Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Connecticut, while her rivals, Leora Levy and Peter Lumaj, relied more on personal loans than contributions.

Campaign reports filed Friday showed that Klarides raised $425,431 in the first quarter, compared to $294,930 for Levy and $158,058 for Lumaj. No other Republican reported significant fundraising in the race.

They are competing for the GOP nomination and a chance to oppose the well-funded two-term Democratic incumbent, Sen. Richard Blumenthal. His campaign raised another $706,858 and ended the quarter with $8.1 million.

Levy, a Republican National Committee member and long-time GOP fundraiser, ended the quarter with nearly $1 million in her campaign account, primarily due to a $750,000 loan from the candidate.

Lumaj had $459,817 in available cash, more than half of it from a $250,000 loan he made to his campaign on March 30, the second-to-last day of the filing period. A candidate since Nov. 24, he now has raised $269,533.

Klarides, a former state House Republican leader who did not seek reelection in 2020 after 22 years as a state lawmaker, ended the quarter with $447,701 in cash. She loaned her campaign $40,000.

By putting significant personal funds into their campaigns, Levy and Lumaj appear to be underling their intent to stay in the race after the Republican nominating convention in May, where Klarides is favored to win the endorsement.

Qualifying for a primary in August requires winning 15% of the convention vote, or petitioning for access. The only statewide Republican primaries are expected to be for U.S. Senate and secretary of the state.

While Klarides showed more financial support from former and present elected officials, Levy’s report demonstrated the backing of the GOP’s presumptive nominee for governor, Bob Stefanowski.

Stefanowski, who also was the 2018 gubernatorial nominee, contributed $2,000 to Levy. The winner of a five-way primary four years ago, Stefanowski has only token competition for the nomination this year.

Linda McMahon, twice the Republican nominee for Senate, losing races to Blumenthal in 2010 and to Chris Murphy in 2012, gave $5,800 to Levy’s campaign and $5,000 to Connecticut Patriots, the super PAC supporting Levy.

Aside from both living in Greenwich, McMahon and Levy have a connection to the Trump administration. McMahon led the Small Business Administration, and Levy was nominated as the U.S. ambassador to Chile.

Thomas Foley, the party’s nominee for governor in 2010 and 2014, gave $5,800 to Klarides’ campaign, the maximum allowed through the primary in August.

Donors can give a maximum of $2,900 to each phase of a federal campaign: the convention, primary and general election. Klarides’ husband, Greg Butler, gave $8,600 — essentially betting she would make it to the November ballot.

Two former state GOP chairs, Chris Healy and Herb Shepardson, gave Klarides’ campaign $1,505 and $500, respectively. Robert Poliner, another former chair, gave $250 to Lev

Klarides’s predecessor and successor as House Republican leader, Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. and Vincent Candelora, gave $500 and $255. Rep. Tim Ackert, R-Coventry, who unsuccessfully challenged her for leader in 2016, contributed $505.

J. David Kelsey of Old Lyme covered every bet: He gave $2,000 to Lumaj, $2,005 to Klarides, $5,800 to Levy and $15,000 to Connecticut Patriots, the super PAC supporting Levy. The new PAC raised $25,000.

House races: Hayes outpaces Logan, 3-1

In what is expected to be Connecticut’s most competitive congressional race, U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-5th District, raised more than three times that of her Republican opponent, George Logan, in the first three months of 2022.

Hayes raised $303,855 to Logan’s $90,389. Her campaign ended the quarter with nearly $1.6 million in the bank, compared to Logan’s $214,477.

Hayes, a former national teacher of the year who had never held elective office, won the open seat in 2018. Logan is a former state senator.

No Republican has won a congressional race in Connecticut since 2006. But the 5th and 2nd are districts that Republican statewide candidates have carried in other contests, offering the GOP a measure of hope.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, had a similarly large advantage over Republican Mike France in his fundraising, collecting $308,836 to France’s $109,774. Courtney ended the quarter with $1.2 million in the bank, compared to France’s $116,832.

France is a Republican state lawmaker from Ledyard.

The 1st, 3rd and 4th districts are solidly Democratic, and the two Republicans who recently opened campaigns in the 3rd and 4th districts had disparate results in raising money.

Jayme Stevenson, the former first selectwoman of Darien, raised $137,711 and loaned her campaign $25,000 for her challenge of U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District. Himes raised $272,269 and had $2 million in his campaign account.

The 4th District of Fairfield County was the last one to be held by a Republican, but it has trended Democratic since Himes unseated Republican Chris Shays, the last in a string of moderate Republicans to hold the seat.

In the 3rd District centered on New Haven, political scientist Lesley DeNardis got a hard lesson about what it is like to raise money for a challenge of U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, a Democrat who is the dean of the delegation and chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

DeNardis, a Republican who recently retired as a professor at Sacred Heart University, raised $21,217 to DeLauro’s $211,494 for the quarter. DeLauro’s campaign has $1.35 million in the bank.

DeNardis’s father, Larry DeNardis, was the last Republican to hold the seat. An educator and former state senator, he served a single term after winning an open race in 1980, helped by Ronald Reagan’s coattails.

In the 1st District of greater Hartford, U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, a Democrat, raised $227,318 and had $876,618 in the bank. The only opponent to raise significant funds for a challenge is a fellow Democrat, a young newcomer named Muad Hrezi.

Hrezi, a former U.S. Senate staffer running to the left of Larson, raised $170,041 in the quarter and had $192,203 in the bank. He is the first candidate to challenge the congressman for the nomination since Larson won a primary for the open seat in 1998.

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