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2 Weeks Out, Republicans Are Off Message in CT

Updated: Dec 17, 2018



For voters who care about preserving public education as a social safety net, the choice is clearly blue. In the gubernatorial race, Bob Stefanowski has only focused on an income tax repeal, while Ned Lamont has explicitly said, “I am going to be the education governor and the opportunity governor.” In the State Senate, Republicans have been barriers on resource equity, school choice, and civil rights protections for students–while State Senators Looney and Duff have consistently stood up for students. Although polls still look tight, there may be good news on the upcoming midterms: Connecticut Republicans are off-message!


For the last several months, Bob Stefanowski has been able to stay disciplined about focusing the media on his unrealistic policy proposal to repeal the income tax. But over the last couple days, as campaigns make their final pitches to voters, several Stefanowski blunders have been very impactful. The campaign has recently been dragged into fights over: releasing his taxes, pay equity, minimum wage, vaccinations, and even water flouridation. Each of these issues has  provided an opening for activist organizations to get engaged and cause distractions from Stefanowski’s one-note message.

The timing to go off-message couldn’t be worse. With less than two weeks to go, campaigns only have a quickly narrowing window to turn around commercials or mail pieces to hit their targeted audiences before they vote. When it comes to effectiveness in television, a message has to saturate the market and be burned into the minds of an audience before it truly takes effect. That means that campaigns are quickly preparing for their closing messages. (Stefanowski, for instance, is presumably moving to one of his final positive mail pieces, while the Republican Governors Association will continues to pound Ned Lamont.) For mail programs, each campaign’s worst-case scenario is having a mail piece hit mailboxes after Election Day. So these paid media programs are making their final approvals and putting them into production shortly. Now is not the time for distractions!


For a campaign that tried to frame this election as a voter’s choice between Dan Malloy/Increased Taxes and Change/Income Tax Repeal, the Republican gubernatorial campaign has just lost its focus. The breakthrough non-tax issues only serve to gin up Democratic vote. Now, it’s all a matter of riding these blunders all the way to the polls.


If you care about Connecticut’s most vulnerable students, turn out on Nov. 6. We can do this together! And if you know anyone who is not registered to vote, the deadline is on October 30. As we have seen since November 2016 and saw again in the Secretary of State’s Office report just last week, Democratic registration continues to surge and could tip the balance in the state legislative electoral results.  


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Amy Dowell

DFER CT State Director