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Lowell Weicker: Connecticut Republicans Are "Irrelevant"

weicker.jpg
Chion Wolf
/
WNPR
Former Governor and U.S. Senator Lowell Weicker during an earlier visit to WNPR.
Weicker said the GOP needs ideas that are focused on Connecticut, not the national party.

Lowell P. Weicker, former governor and U.S. senator, warned that the Connecticut Republican party can’t compete in its current form. “It’s irrelevant,” Weicker said. “That’s a big problem for the state of Connecticut.”

Weicker served in the United States Senate as a Republican, and left the party before being elected governor as an independent.

What’s his prescription for his former party? On WNPR’s Where We Live, Weicker said the GOP needs ideas that are focused on Connecticut, and not just on following the national party’s playbook.

“A southern strategy does not work in the state of Connecticut,” Weicker said. “We’re not a religious right state. We’re not an anti-labor state. I think it’s more an understanding of what comprises Connecticut that is necessary.”

"Unified conventions have gotten the Republicans nowhere."<br><em>Lowell P. Weicker</em>

On WNPR, The Connecticut Mirror’s Mark Pazniokas asked Weicker if the political convention system should be abolished in the state.

“I don’t think there’s any question about it,” Weicker said immediately. “We’ve got to live with the choices [the delegates] make and those choices encompass all the problems and opportunities of the state.”

Weicker wants to see candidates talk directly to the electorate in a primary system instead of the current convention system. He said, “The argument is going to be made that what is needed is a unified choice, a unified convention. Well, unified conventions have gotten the Republicans nowhere. No, they need a robust debate on the issues among the various candidates.”

There have been several debates among Republican candidates for governor already, but Republican front-runner Tom Foley has been notably absent. The strategy has paid off for him, with the latest Quinnipiac poll showing him neck-and-neck with Governor Dannel Malloy.

Weicker left the GOP before running for governor. He thinks many of the state’s unaffiliated voters are ex-Republicans who left because, like him, they are “fed up” with the party. He said that debating the issues could bring those voters back and give Republicans a chance to win.

Tucker Ives is WNPR's morning news producer.

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