GREENWICH, Conn. (WTNH) — Leora Levy, a first-time political candidate who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, won the Republican primary Tuesday for U.S. Senate in Connecticut.
Levy, a member of the Republican National Committee, will face U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal in November, trying to unseat the Democrat who has been in office since 2011.
Levy’s victory came over the party establishment’s favored candidate, former state House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, a self-described social moderate. She also defeated a fellow conservative, immigration attorney Peter Lumaj.
WATCH: Leora Levy addresses supporters in Greenwich
Levy, 65, touted support from Trump as proof she is a “true America-first patriot.”
“Thank you President Trump for your strong, clear, unequivocal endorsement,” Levy said in a speech to her supporters Tuesday night. “I told him when he called me Thursday, I told him, ‘I won’t let you down.’ He asked me if I would work hard. I said, ‘Absolutely. 25/8,’ and that’s what I did.”
LISTEN: Former President Donald Trump congratulates Leora Levy on winning GOP primary race
Levy said that only a conservative can beat Blumenthal in the general election. Connecticut hasn’t elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since Lowell P. Weicker Jr., who served from 1971 to 1989.
“I want to thank the voters who put their faith in me for the last 22 years, the ones who voted for me today,” Klarides said in her concession speech. “It’s been a great run and I’m proud of my service to this great state.”
WATCH: Themis Klarides makes a concession speech
Earlier in the night, Lumaj said he would support the Republican nominee.
“This is the will of the primary voters, and as I said before, the target remains Blumenthal, the failed liberal policies, and I would call on all the Republicans and the statewide candidates to unite behind the winner and make sure we defeat Blumenthal,” Lumaj said.
WATCH: Peter Lumaj makes a concession speech
Blumenthal’s campaign issued the following statement on Levy’s victory:
Leora Levy is Donald Trump’s choice. Dick Blumenthal is Connecticut’s Senator.
Leora Levy is way outside the Connecticut mainstream. She opposes a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions. She opposes common sense gun safety measures. And she supports calling January 6th “legitimate political discourse.
The contrast with Senator Blumenthal could not be more clear.Campaign team for U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)
Some experts said Trump was the reason for Levy’s 10-point victory over Klarides.
“I think this is a wake-up call for Democrats,” said Dr. Patricia Crouse with the University of New Haven. “The fact that his influence over the party in our state was so strong in this particular election, tells us that you can’t dismiss it in a state like Connecticut.”
Connecticut has a lot of independent voters, so those who show up to the polls in the primary election are very different than the voters in the general election.
“It’s this double-edged sword with his endorsements,” Crouse said. “It helps his candidates to win primaries, but it probably is going to cause them to lose the general elections.”
Democrats are already using Levy’s public phone calls with Trump against her.
“Does that mean if a woman’s right to choose is put before a national referendum in the Senate, and they try to outlaw Roe v. Wade across the country?” Gov. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.) said Wednesday. “Is that what she means when she says? ‘I won’t let you down?'”
Voters are set to go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.