First woman nominated for governor by state GOP, former News 8 political commentator dies at 91

Politics

(WTNH) – A Connecticut political trailblazer has died. Julie Belaga was the first woman in state history to be nominated by the Republicans to run for governor.

Belaga was a state representative for 10 years before running for governor in 1986. It was an uphill battle. She was the underdog but ended up beating two men in the primary.

She was considered a moderate Republican and at the party convention, she lost the endorsement to two male state senators. She ran tough against them in the primary and won.

Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie ran for the legislature with her.

“She barely won. She was defeated by Gov. O’Neill,” Rennie said.

After her loss in 1986, Belaga was later appointed by President George H.W. Bush to be the regional director for the EPA.

Longtime viewers of News 8 may remember she was a political commentator for the station during the election of 1988, reporting from the conventions that nominated George Bush and Michael Dukakis.

Twenty years later, Jodi Rell became the first Republican woman to be elected governor of Connecticut.

Belaga was 91 years old.

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