FARMINGTON, CT — The Connecticut Republican Party put the election failures of 2018 behind them and overwhelmingly backed J.R. Romano for a third two-year term as party chairman Tuesday night.
Matt O’Brien, Jr., of Coventry was the only other candidate to challenge Romano and he received less than a handful of votes for chairman from the 74-member State Central Committee.
Dave Mathus, the Darien attorney who was actively campaigning for the position, withdrew his nomination when it became apparent Romano was going to win. Dick Foley, the former Republican Party chairman who considered running, didn’t allow his name to be entered for consideration.
In accepting the nomination, Romano first asked O’Brien to stay involved with the party. O’Brien agreed and then dashed off to the hospital because his wife was in labor with their first child.
“I know it hasn’t been easy. I know we don’t always agree,” Romano said in thanking the committee for his nomination.
In winning the support of party insiders Romano said he’s proven he’s willing to put in the hard work and hit the ground running.
“We don’t have to agree with each other all the time, but we can agree things are better off when we work together,” Virginia Landgrebe, who seconded Romano’s nomination, said.
What looked like a fractured party that had some big losses in 2018 came together Tuesday united behind Romano.
Jonathan Wharton, who chairs the New Haven Republican Town Committee, said Romano may have had his differences with members of the party, but he never spoke badly of anyone who had a disagreement with him.
He said Romano is able to unite the party and is actively seeking solutions to the problems it experienced in 2018.
Republicans lost seats in both the Connecticut Senate and House in 2018 and they failed to win back the governor’s office. They haven’t held a Congressional seat since 2009.
Romano said he does the hard work, and the members of the party see that.
He said he works hard at “trying to change cultures within RTCs about being more engaged, doing doors year around, going back to work collaboratively on issues that we can turn out voters on in November.”
Romano said the sentiment from Republicans Tuesday was clear: “We’re going to go after Democrats for their failures in the state.”
Susan Hatfield, the state prosecutor who ran for attorney general, was elected vice chairwoman of the party.
“I think the entire party recognizes she needed to have a seat at the table in terms of leadership,” Romano said.
Hatfield said she wants to engage Republican voters in the cities. She said the cities are often ignored by the Republican Party, but she thinks the party will be successful in what are typically considered Democratic Party strongholds.
“We need as Republicans to go outside our typical base,” Hatfield said. “People are very receptive to hear from us.”