Blu­men­thal’s son rises fast

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - Front Page - By An­gela Carella

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.

A ‘coro­na­tion’

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.”

No bias

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.”

Un­for­got­ten cut

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.”

City roots

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.

His­tory re­peat­ing?

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.”

Alex von Kley­dorff / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Josh Fedeli, chair­man of Stam­ford’s Demo­cratic City Com­mit­tee, con­grat­u­lates Matt Blu­men­thal.

Alex von Kley­dorff / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

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.

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