Connecticut had hoped to be a player in the Republican presidential primary, but the contest seemed to come to a screeching halt Tuesday when former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum announced he was suspending his campaign, thus cementing Mitt Romney’s status as the nominee.
Connecticut Republican Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. said he wasn’t disappointed in the least with the way things turned out. In fact, he’s happy former the Massachusetts governor will kick off his general election campaign in Hartford today.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, were unable to get enough delegate support early in the contest, but their names will still appear on Connecticut’s ballot along with Santorum’s.
Labriola, who took the party’s reigns last summer, said with the focus turning to the general election he’s confident Romney will be able to reunite the party and that reunion will start in Hartford. Labriola admitted he probably wouldn’t be able to say that if Romney hailed from a more conservative southern state, but “he’s a Northeast Republican” who can win over unaffiliated voters.
In Connecticut there are more unaffiliated voters than both registered Democrats or Republicans. According to Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, there are 734,431 Democrats, 414,539 Republicans, and 828,252 unaffiliated voters in the state.
Labriola will introduce Romney this afternoon at Alpha Graphics on Main Street in Hartford. Sources say it’s likely his introduction will include an endorsement, but Labriola declined to give anything away Tuesday during a phone interview.
Romney’s campaign chose the Hartford location because the company is owned by a woman.
Democrats who canceled a Tuesday conference call were expected to visit Alpha Graphics earlier in the morning to express their disapproval of the candidate.
“It’s no surprise that Mitt Romney finally was able to grind down his opponents under an avalanche of negative ads,” Jim Messina, Obama for America Campaign Manager, said in a statement Tuesday.
“But neither he nor his special interest allies will be able to buy the presidency with their negative attacks. The more the American people see of Mitt Romney, the less they like him and the less they trust him,” he added.