HARTFORD, CT — House Minority Leader Themis Klarides received a standing ovation from her Republican caucus members when she told them Wednesday that she wasn’t going to run for governor.
Klarides, the first female leader of the House Republican caucus, will instead run for re-election in Derby and help her party try to pick up enough seats to take control of the House of Representatives. Republicans are currently four seats shy of a majority in the House.
Connecticut has been labeled a 2018 “battleground” state where power could shift from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party in both chambers.
“I’m one of those overthinkers and this was not a decision I made without staying up at night,” Klarides said Wednesday. She said she consulted with family and friends before giving her caucus the news on Wednesday morning.
She said she asked herself how she could best serve the state of Connecticut. The answer was staying in the House and trying to win back the majority, which Republicans have not had in that chamber since 1986.
“I do believe that having a majority in the House and Senate is the most important thing we can do as Republicans,” Klarides said.
The comment came a day after Hearst Connecticut Media ran a headline saying “Klarides Hints At Run for Governor.”
Rep. John Frey, R-Ridgefield, said the caucus was thrilled by the news.
“We’re so close to a majority. Seeing Themis up there on the podium would be very exciting,” Frey added.
Liz Kurantowicz, Republican analyst and former executive director of the party, said that Klarides is a “terrific foil for Democratic leadership.” She said the decision to run for re-election shows that she’s taking a “big picture approach to the reality of the crisis we’re in as a state,” and will continue to lead by offering solutions.
“I’m excited for her,” Kurantowicz said.
Klarides was first woman elected minority leader by her caucus following the 2014 election.
Told about Klarides’ intentions, House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, who is seeking re-election to his seat and hopes to return as speaker in 2019, said “fat chance.”
Aresimowicz won re-election in 2016 by more than 300 votes in his district, but his caucus continued to lose seats in the House. Aresimowicz is hoping to pick up seats this year.
“We’re going to work as hard as we can to increase our majority,” Aresimowicz said. “And I truly believe that the state of Connecticut and the voters are with us.”
The Speaker of the House is a member of the majority party and is elected by the full membership of the House following an election.