State races a reflection of nation
Stefanowski, Lamont rally bases in Fairfield, New Haven, Litchfield counties
In the dead-heat governor’s race, Democrat Ned Lamont and Republican Bob Stefanowski spent Saturday electrifying their bases to push them over the finish line on Election Day.
For Stefanowski, that meant rallies in Darien and Greenwich — a nod to the traditional GOP strongholds of wealthy Fairfield County suburbs — and stops in Shelton and Naugatuck Valley towns where Republicans perform well.
Meanwhile, Lamont spent time in areas that have sent Democrats to the state House. He stopped in Torrington, Meriden and the backbone of the Democratic party, the cities of New Haven and Hartford.
A poll by Hearst Connecticut Media and Sacred Heart University released Thursday found Stefanowski leading Lamont for the first time. But his small edge — just 2.4 percentage points — is within the margin of error.
Stefanowski touted the poll result at a Greenwich “Save the State” rally attended by about 150 people — mostly middle-aged and older voters and party locals, and heavily white.
“They see it slipping away,” Stefanowski said of Democrats. But he urged those listening, “Don’t take anything for granted. We’ve got to finish strong. We’ve got to get the vote out on Tuesday.”
Lamont and other Democrats warned a crowd of 150 mostly black people of Trump-style policies invading Connecticut if Republicans took control, speaking at a rally at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal church in New Haven.
Several speakers called it a “moral imperative” to vote for Democrats.
“We know what’s at stake,” a hoarse Lamont said. “I’m not going to turn my back on what’s right for Connecticut.”
Both candidates focused on motivating women on Saturday. Stefanowski had a “Women and Families” rally in Darien and before his Greenwich rally, and summoned seven female members of the Greenwich Republican party on stage to tout their support for the Republican ticket.
Lamont held a women’s rally in Meriden with Democrat Jahana Hayes, who is running to fill the 5th Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn.
Much of Stefanowski’s recent gains were among women, who in the earlier poll showed 50 percent support for Lamont. That has dropped to 40.8 percent, the new poll finds, with 34.8 for Stefanowski.
Both candidates, who have been described as having an “enthusiasm gap,” used other politicians to boost them Saturday. Lamont leaned on popular incumbents U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro to excite Democrats in New Haven.
“I have never been more proud to be a Democrat in this nation,” DeLauro said before promising the crowd that Democrats can take the U.S. House.
Likewise, Stefanowski deployed the powerful speaking of state House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, of Derby, at his Greenwich rally, where almost the entire Republican ticket appeared — except Republican attorney general candidate Sue Hatfield, and Stefanowski’s running mate, Joe Markley, a strongly conservative state senator who has been noticeably absent on the campaign trail.
“There is nobody with an ‘R’ behind their name that is anti-anything,” Klarides said. “(Democrats) are saying that because they are scared. They are saying it because on Tuesday this state is going to go red.”
In New Haven, Democratic State Rep. Juan Candelaria and state Sen. Gary Winfield whipped up the crowd for Lamont by warning that Republicans would cut services, prompting raucous cheers of “Ned! Ned! Ned!”
Attorney general candidate William Tong also joined Lamont in New Haven.
Both gubernatorial candidates have the television airwaves plastered with commercials on the final weekend before voters head to the polls.
Shortly before Lamont’s arrival in New Haven, two cars drove through the neighborhood mounted with loudspeakers broadcasting recorded messages from Lamont and Candelaria, urging people to head to the polls Tuesday.
Republican Party candidate Bob Stefanowski, left, shakes hands with Democratic Party candidate Ned Lamont, at the end of a gubernatorial debate on Sept. 26. Both candidates made a final push for votes on Saturday with a number of rallies throughout the state.