Brian K. Hill said Connecticut Republicans will have to aggressively seek votes in the cities and among college students and senior citizens if they expect to win their first U.S. Senate race in 30 years.
“The Democrats are very good at going out in the urban areas and asking people for their vote,” Hill, who is vying for the Republican nomination in the U.S. Senate race after receiving 559 votes last year as a write-in candidate for the seat now held by Democrat Richard Blumenthal, said.
“We need to take a page of the playbook from the Democrats,” he said after speaking to the Bethel Republican Town Committee last week.
An African-American attorney from Windsor, Hill talked about how poor the outreach to minorities in cities has been over the past several decades.
“We could do it very easily, because many of the issues of concern them are the same ones that concern other voters,” Hill said of the GOP platform.
“We’re not going to the colleges and high schools and reaching out to the students,” he added. “We’re not going to the senior centers to reach out to the elderly. We need to be doing a better job of interacting with Hispanics.”
“That is something that I am committed to doing, which has not been common in Republican circles in the past,” Hill said.
The GOP has not won a U.S. Senate race in Connecticut since Lowell Weicker captured a third term in 1982.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for us to win next year with where Obama’s poll numbers are,” Bethel Republican Town Committee Chairman Paul Improta said regarding the president’s low approval ratings.
Hill is running for the GOP nomination against former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon of Greenwich, who lost last year to Blumenthal, Vernon Mayor Jason McCoy and former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays of Bridgeport.
He was not included in the most recent Quinnipiac University poll on the race, but said he expects to be in the next survey.
“That last poll was not giving voters a full picture of what’s going on,” Hill said.
He told prospective delegates to the state convention next May that he doesn’t have “the negatives’ that are attached to the other GOP candidates.
“Linda McMahon spent over $50 million last year and she lost to a man who lied about his military record,” Hill said, referring to misstatements that Blumenthal made regarding his service in the Marines during the Vietnam era.
“There was a likability gap with women,” Improta said of McMahon, who lost last year’s race by 12 points to Blumenthal. “The women we know that met her, liked her. But the general population didn’t know her, and they were going off what had been on the WWE and some of the propaganda the other side was throwing at her.”
Longtime Bethel Republican Town Committee member Kitty Grant said she has been “extremely impressed” with McMahon, who had the support of Bethel’s delegates at last year’s GOP state convention.
She said McMahon interacts well with voters, noting that she said spent considerable time speaking with people at each table last year during the local GOP’s annual lobster fest.
“Some people resented that she spent so much of her own money,” Grant said. “However, I think that spoke volumes about how much she wanted to be involved.”
Shays also has some problems with the Republican base.
Hill said Shays “was not always voting the Republican philosophy” during his 21 years representing the Fourth District.
Improta said he is “impressed” with his Hill’s “platform and his background.”
“He has a grasp of the issues and a lot of energy,” he added, noting that Hill attended two events in Bethel this summer.
Hill said his combined 12 years as an active duty Judge Advocate General Corps officer in the Army and the Navy helps him “tremendously,” since he has served in various parts of the United States and in foreign countries.
“I have a perspective that not too many Americans have,” said Hill, who was recently endorsed by the Afghanistan & Iraq Veterans For Congress.
He said he supports withdrawing most of the troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan and restructuring the military to focus on “emerging threats” through improvements in its “cyber defense program.”
Hill, who has been a lifelong Republican except for a recent two-year period when he switched to unaffiliated after he objected to former President George W. Bush’s “big government “policies, said he is now “encouraged” by the Republicans’ commitment to fiscal restraint.
“We’re toeing the line on cutting spending,” he said. “Before, cutting spending wasn’t even an option. Now it’s just a matter of how much we’re going to cut.”
“We need to reduce taxes,” Hill said. “We need to reduce regulations.”
He said he opposes Obama’s $447 billion jobs plan because it won’t generate more private sector employment.
Hill said the president also erred during his first two years by focusing on health care reform instead of job creation.
He said the 2008 economic rescue of the major financial services institutions has been a failure.
“We bailed out the banks,” Hill said. “Look at what we have to show for it. The banks are making record profits again and we have situations where people can’t even refinance.”