Former House Minority Leader Themis Klarides shook up the race for governor and U.S. Senate this weekend by announcing she would be focusing on defeating U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal instead of vying for a shot to take out Gov. Ned Lamont.
Klarides announced her decision in an appearance taped Friday and aired Sunday morning on News8 WTNH’s “This Week in CT.”
She told WTNH’s Dennis House that in traveling Connecticut and talking to residents she discovered that: “As many things as they have had to complain about in Connecticut because we certainly have our own issues here, the palatable dysfunction and the palpable disgust of what’s happening in Washington D.C. I was taken aback by it.”
Klarides said Blumenthal needs to explain why he votes with the Democratic Party almost exclusively.
“Is he just going to get a pass when he needs to explain to people why he votes almost 100% of the time with the Democrats in Washington? He has to explain what he’s doing for Connecticut,” Klarides said. “And I think partisanship is over. People are sick of it.”
She touted her work on the 2017 bipartisan state budget and said Washington D.C. needs more bipartisanship.
“People are unhappy with what happens down in Washington D.C.,” Klarides said.
She said her brand of “Republicanism” is something Connecticut wants.
Klarides, who was a delegate to the 2016 convention and voted for former President Donald Trump, has kept her distance publicly denouncing comments he made in 2005 on a hot mic about groping women.
Klarides pointed out that Trump’s remarks prove he is sexually insecure.
“I don’t know anyone who didn’t find what he said offensive,” Klarides said back in 2016.
However, that didn’t mean she wouldn’t be voting for him.
“I can’t see how he’s not the best choice,” Klarides said.
Asked by House about how she would handle Trump in 2022, Klarides said: “My focus is completely Connecticut and running for office,” Klarides said. “My job is to make sure I get to every voter and discuss what I believe in, and what I think a vision for Connecticut is, what I think a vision for this country is.”
A Republican hasn’t won a U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut since 1982.
Klarides is one of four candidates vying for the Republican nomination. The others include Peter Lumaj, Robert Hyde and John Flynn.
Klarides entrance into the U.S. Senate race makes the path to the nomination for Bob Stefanowski a little easier.
Stefanowski planned to make Klarides’ marriage in 2020 to Eversource General Counsel Greg Butler an issue in the race.
Asked by House if she planned to endorse Stefanowski, Klarides said she would support the Republican nominee.
“If Bob is the nominee, I will certainly support whoever the Republican nominee is,” Klarides said. “And I think we certainly have a good chance to win.”
Susan Patricelli Regan, a former senior international marketing executive who lives in Granby, is also seeking the Republican nomination for governor.