For the first time in recent memory the Connecticut Democratic Party’s largest fundraiser of the year was held in Stamford, and while it initially seemed to signal a shift in the political winds due to the gains Democrats made in Fairfield County in 2022, it was simply a matter of convenience for its keynote speaker, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Sources say because Gov. Ned Lamont and Whitmer were traveling from the Democratic Governors Association meeting in New Jersey, Stamford was closer than Hartford where the event, named after former Democratic Party Chairman John Bailey, is traditionally held.
It was a nice change for Fairfield County Democrats.
Rep. Steve Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport, said it was a nice change of venue and a much shorter commute. He said they’ve certainly seen increases in Democratic support in Fairfield County.
“There’s a solid base of Democratic support here,” Stafstrom said.
Whitmer used her time on stage to rally Democrats for the 2024 election cycle.
Whitmer, who ran for governor in 2018, said she ran because she believes when “we work to get things done it makes a real difference in people’s lives. People can see that Democrats really do care.”
Whitmer recalled her first term when she had to work with a Republican controlled legislature some of whom shared the stage with people who were plotting to kidnap and kill her.
“And yet I still had to sit at the table and get things done,” she said. “But in 2022 things changed. Amidst an unprecedented attack on reproductive freedom Michganders turned out in record numbers and made their voices heard.”
She said she won the governor’s race by 11 points and Democrats took back the state House and Senate after 40 years of Republican control. She thanked Sen. Chris Murphy for coming out to Michigan to help with that effort.
The message from that campaign: “When you stand up and fight for things that matter you win,” Whtimer said.
However, her message to Connecticut Democrats Friday night was that Democrats need to start bragging about their accomplishments if they want to keep winning.
“In 2024, every one of us has a responsibility as Democrats to tell our story and the good news is we have a lot to talk about,” Whitmer said. “Talking about our accomplishments might be tough, right? I mean I’m a Midwesterner and the only thing we are confident we are the best at is being humble.”
She said she understands how easy it is to move onto the next thing, but they need to brag about what they’ve been able to accomplish.
“We are delivering tangible results that people can see in their lives,” Whitmer said. “We have cut taxes for seniors and working families putting money back in their pockets and we’re making more here in America, bringing factory jobs back to towns that lost them decades ago.”
She said both Connecticut and Michigan are seeing record growth in small business. She even joked that Sen. Richard Blumenthal probably couldn’t get to all of them.
She said President Biden’s infrastructure money has helped replace lead pipes and is building roads and bridges, and clean energy.
Rep. Kerry Wood, D-Rocky Hill, said Whitmer is right that Democrats don’t brag enough about their accomplishments mostly because they’re looking forward to the next thing.
“We’re type-A. We’re working on the next thing we’re not bragging,” Wood said.
She said the reality is Connecticut is building housing and fixing the roads and bringing developers to the table with outside the box new developments.