HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut Republicans elected a new leader this week: 62-year-old Ben Proto of Stratford, a longtime GOP operative and elections lawyer.
In his first television interview since being elected as the new Republican State Party Chair, Attorney Ben Proto tells News 8’s Chief Political Correspondent Jodi Latina winning the three-way contest was emotional. “It was just a thrilling evening for me.”
Proto is taking over a Republican party which hasn’t held a statewide office since Governor Jodi Rell 15-years ago. And a record number of registered Republicans left the party frustrated with former President Donald Trump and his controversial behavior.
He says it starts with messaging what the party stands for.
“Most importantly, the Democrats choose to put limits on people and their ability to succeed or not succeed. We remove those limits and give the individual the families the opportunity to explore and go as far as they can and want to. Without the government telling them what they can do,” explained Proto.
The night of the election, Democrats were quick to post on social media about Proto and the newly elected vice-chair.
“News flash: CT Republicans elect Donald Trump’s 2016 CT campaign coordinator and a woman who attended Trump’s January 6 ‘rally’ in Washington, D.C. to lead their party.”
Proto responded, “I’m not sure how long the Democrats are going to allow Donald Trump to live rent-free in their heads. They’ve absolutely destroyed the State of Connecticut, so they have to find the other shiner thing that they can distract voters to and that’s Donald Trump.”
Proto also says his new vice-chair told him she was at the former president’s speech in Washington but did not venture to the Capitol on Jan. 6. He has no reason to not believe her.
Meantime, he says families who rallied outside the state capitol upset the legislature removed the religious exemption for childhood vaccinations are looking for someone to fight for them.
“They were there because they didn’t like the fact that the government was inserting themselves – the government between them and their children and making decisions on how to raise their children.”
Proto says aside from fundraising, a newly open State Senate seat in the 36th District of Greenwich is an opportunity.
And says the state party is fully prepared to wage a campaign in the 36th District. There will be no primary.
The new chairman will hit the ground running once the governor decides when that State Senate special election will happen.
Delegates will be recalled, a convention will happen, and a nominee will be chosen.