Blumenthal’s son rises fast
STAMFORD — A month after he filed paperwork to run for the District 147 state House of Representatives seat, city Rep. Anzelmo Graziosi learned that newcomer
Matt Blumenthal, son of U.S.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, had just joined the race.
Graziosi said he quickly received a message about Blumenthal’s candidacy.
Stamford Democrats he called to ask for support did not call back, Graziosi said. Some, he said, returned his calls to say they could not endorse him because they are friends with the senior Blumenthal, an icon in state politics and a figure on the national stage.
At least one Democrat sent out a fund-raising letter for Matt Blumenthal days after he moved to Stamford and announced his run in late March. The letter was written six weeks before the party’s nominating convention, where that Democrat, and another who had signed on to be Blumenthal’s campaign treasurer, were to be delegates.
As the convention neared, Graziosi said, a few delegates told him they didn’t think it was right that Matt Blumenthal, 32, had moved to the district just to run. But they said the party was pressuring them to back Blumenthal, an
attorney at Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder.
By the time he got to the convention at Democratic headquarters Wednesday night, Graziosi knew he had no shot at the nomination, and little chance of winning the three votes needed to force a primary. His hope was to be allowed to speak.
Just in case, he brought his five children — twins Nicola and Rosa, 13; Benedetto, 10; Giuseppe, 6; and Luca, 2. “I wanted them to understand that it’s not acceptable that being wellconnected gets you a break, because my children will not get those breaks,” said Graziosi, 46, who was elected to the Board of Representatives last year. “I wanted to expose the hypocrisy. There is nothing fair about this fight. The party did everything they could to put (Blumenthal) in a position to succeed and stop others — and not just me — from running.”
One of the others, an elected official who was interested in running for the 147th District seat, declined to comment or be identified for this story.
Only two of the 14 delegates voted for Graziosi, so there will be no primary.
“It was a coronation, not a nomination,” said Graziosi, who is considering whether to petition his way to a primary as a Democrat or run as an independent. “The message from the party is, ‘don’t go against the senator’s son.’ The message is, ‘the democratic process doesn’t matter.’ All that matters is that the party stays in power.”
Democratic City Committee Chairman Josh Fedeli said there was no favoritism or pressure to endorse a certain candidate for the seat, which will be vacated after nine years by Stamford Democrat William Tong, who is seeking to become attorney general. “This is a very important race in a swing district,” Fedeli said. “I spoke with anyone who was interested in running and told them what was at stake and the expectations for the candidate. Everyone had a fair and equitable shot at winning the support of the delegates.”
Blumenthal, a graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School who joined the Marine Corps Reserve and led a rifle platoon in Afghanistan in 2011, is eminently qualified, Fedeli said.
City Rep. Susan Nabel, D-20, the only Stamford Democrat to vote for Graziosi, said the party had two good candidates. The other delegate to vote for Graziosi was from western Darien, which is part of District 147.
Nabel said she backed Graziosi because of his passion and commitment to public service, and was not pushed to support Blumenthal. “I’ve never felt pressure to vote one way or another,” Nabel said. “I suppose it could have happened; I just have not had that experience.”
The system has a way of working, she said.
“There are 14 delegates who theoretically represent the people of the district. Theoretically, each delegate vetted the candidates, talked to their constituents and made their decisions based on that,” she said. “Theoretically, it is the people who decide, but in politics, there are personal relationships. … There are always multiple filters on the votes that are cast.”
Fedeli said it’s “unfortunate” that Graziosi criticized the process instead of “putting forth the effort” to win the endorsement.
“He may want to think about his votes on the Board of Representatives and public statements he’s made, as opposed to painting Matt Blumenthal as winning on his legacy,” Fedeli said.
Graziosi said the comment concerns the board’s budget deliberations earlier this month, when he moved to cut $2.8 million from the spending package proposed by Mayor David Martin to “give taxpayers a break.”
Some delegates said they would not support him because of that move, which resulted in a $1.4 million compromise cut to the budget requested by Martin, the face of the Stamford Democratic Party.
“I knew the budget cut would not sit well with members of the committee who were close to the administration,” Graziosi said. “But I wasn’t going to sell out my constituents over a nomination.”
Blumenthal said he is committed to Stamford, where he was born and spent the first nine years of his life. Tax records show the family owned a home at 106 Dolphin Cove Quay from 1984 to 1995. They then moved to Greenwich, hometown of Matt’s mother, Cynthia Malkin Blumenthal, daughter of real estate magnate Peter Malkin.
“I am rooted here in Stamford. The rest of my time in the area was spent one town over,” said Matt Blumenthal, who graduated from Brunswick, a private PreK-12 school in Greenwich. “I have a long list of service in my life. I’ve served the community wherever I’ve lived.”
Blumenthal said he is a board member of the Stamford Boys & Girls Club, and helps run a Yale Law project that protects vulnerable people from overreaches by the Trump administration.
“I am fully committed to serving Stamford and Darien,” he said.
Graziosi, who was deputy mayor of Glen Cove, N.Y., and served on the city council there before marrying and moving to Stamford 15 years ago, said he got involved in city government after recognizing fiscal problems similar to those plaguing Long Island.
“I wish (Blumenthal) was more immersed in the community. I wish he, like my children, was a product of Stamford Public Schools,” Graziosi said. “Then we could point to that with pride.”
During the convention, Graziosi read from an April 1984 New York Times article that referenced an early Richard Blumenthal race to represent District 145, just a few months after he had moved to Stamford.
Like his son, Blumenthal had an impressive resume, and defeated Jeremiah Livingston, a city representative and machine operator. Livingston told the newspaper Richard Blumenthal was a “millionaire carpetbagger” who moved to the district to advance his political career.
“I hope that’s not happening now,” Graziosi said. “The last thing we need is another politician who is going to Hartford to climb the ladder.”
Josh Fedeli, chairman of Stamford’s Democratic City Committee, congratulates Matt Blumenthal.
City Rep Anzelmo Graziosi waits with his children Wednesday in Stamford to speak to the Democratic City Committee before it elected Matt Blumenthal its candidate for the House of Representatives’ 147th District seat.