EAST HAVEN, CT — Anyone who knows anything about East Haven knows that it can be a tough town — especially when it comes to politics, where politicians including its mayor have attracted unwanted media glare.
Nobody knows that better than Democratic State Rep. James Albis, who is seeking re-election to his fifth term this coming Tuesday against Republican Bob Parente.
But Albis, who represents the 99th District, said Parente has reached a “new low” with his recent mailer that included a photoshopped image of unpopular Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in place of Albis’ father, Judge Michael Albis, in an image taken from James Albis’ wedding album.
Here is what James Albis had to say about Parente’s mailing on his Facebook page:
“I have always prided myself on running a positive campaign. I know we disagree on some issues. But we agreed to keep this election civil. He (Parente) shook my hand, and looked me in the eye, and said he was going to stick to the issues and not make this election personal.
“Well, now he’s sent a negative campaign mailing where he doctored a photo from my wedding day,” Albis said. “This is a new low for East Haven politics. This was one of the happiest days of my life, marrying the woman of my dreams. Apparently, Mr. Parente has decided he has no problem tarnishing those memories.”
Albis continued, “We are better than this. Families should be off limits.”
Albis, who only was re-elected two years ago by nine votes after surviving a recount, added: “And if you were wondering, no, Dan Malloy was absolutely not invited to our wedding.”
Democratic Town Chairman Marc Conte called on Parente, who is also East Haven Republican Town Chairman, “to resign.”
Repeated attempts to reach Parente by phone, email and social media were not returned.
Tough political campaigns, as mentioned earlier, are not new in East Haven. Currently the Democrats and Republicans are duking it out, quite publicly, over the recent $175,000 settlement of a sexual harassment complaint filed by a former employee against Republican Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr.
And replacing a photo of someone else with a photoshopped image of Malloy also isn’t unique in this current election campaign.
Liz Linehan, a Democrat who represents the towns of Cheshire, Southington, and Wallingford in the 103rd District, is upset about a mailer sent this week approved by her Republican opponent, Diane Pagano.
The mailer has a photo of Linehan with Malloy. Linehan said the original photo was taken with William Tong, who is a candidate for attorney general. She said the shirt and tie in both images are identical, but it appeared only the governor’s head was manipulated into the photo.
Also stirring controversy this week was a mailer concerning Rep. Matt Lesser, who is running for the state Senate seat.
The mailer from his Republican opponent, Edward Charamut, shows a distorted image of Lesser holding five hundred dollar bills with a maniacal look of greed on his face. Above the image it says “Less for Seniors. That’s Matt Lesser.”
The anti-Semitic mailer, which arrived following after the mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, has been harshly criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike. Religious leaders are gathering Wednesday morning to continue their criticism of the mailer.
Charamut didn’t return several phone calls Tuesday, but his Facebook page image now includes a “together against anti-semitism” message.
Republican Party Chairman JR Romano who initially defended the mailer was forced to walk back his statements and promise to meet with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to broaden his understanding of, and sensitivity to, anti-Semitism.
“Several things have come into perspective from conversations with Jewish friends, including Jewish Republicans. In a race with a Jewish candidate, this image should be recognized as offensive, raising classic anti-Semitic tropes. It cannot be justified,” Romano said. “I personally would not have approved this mailer, and I am grateful that the party did not approve it. I have requested to sit down with the ADL to broaden my understanding of and sensitivity to anti-Semitism.”