Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. fended off his Tea Party challenger Tuesday to remain the head of a party that has gone several years without winning a statewide election.
In the final vote count, according to Republican sources, Labriola took 62.5 votes and Ronald Wilcox of Newtown received 17.5 votes. There are only 72 members of the Republican State Central Committee, but a dozen members have weighted ballots worth 1.5 votes each.
Over the weekend, Labriola was able to avoid a last-minute challenge from his predecessor, Chris Healy, and was able to convince his other would-be challenger, Wayne Winsley, to support him instead.
The vote Tuesday means Labriola, an attorney from Wallingford, will hold onto the chairmanship for another two years through the 2014 gubernatorial and congressional elections. He will keep his $52,000 salary and maintain control over a handful of staff at the party’s new headquarters on Pratt Street in Hartford.
As of Oct. 2012 there were 430,564 registered Republican voters in the state. The Democratic party has about 768,176 registered voters. Unaffiliated voters outnumber both major parties with 872,839 registered voters, according to the Secretary of the State’s office.
The Republican Party doesn’t hold any of Connecticut’s congressional or U.S. Senate seats and it lost the governor’s seat in 2010 to Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. Republicans are also in the minority in the state’s General Assembly.
Labriola was criticized by some in the party who said he should have been more vocal on the gun control legislation and other issues before the General Assembly.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Labriola said he has consistently maintained that there should be a “seat at the table for the conservative grassroots movement.”
“And at the same time we need to be a party that’s tolerant of opposing views if we ever want to be the majority party,” Labriola said.
The fiscal issues are something everyone in the party can agree upon. And that’s where the Democratic Party is falling flat.
“The Democrats don’t deserve to run Connecticut anymore,” Labriola said. “Connecticut is a state of champions and our people are tired of being in last place.”