State races a re­flec­tion of na­tion

Ste­fanowski, La­mont rally bases in Fair­field, New Haven, Litch­field coun­ties

The News-Times (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Em­i­lie Mun­son

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.

As­so­ci­ated Press file photo

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.

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