HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Voters on Tuesday will go to the polls in dozens of Connecticut communities to choose officials ranging from mayor to zoning board members, in what has been a contentious local election season in some parts of the state.
While local issues are likely to be on their minds, national ones may be front and center as well — most notably the debate over the president, who faces possible impeachment.
Democrats in some communities are encouraging voters to send Republican President Donald Trump “a message on Nov. 5” by voting for local Democrats, The Hartford Courant reported.
“Across Connecticut, Trump Republicans are enacting his policies of lying, cheating and stealing. The only way to stop him is to stop them. At every level of government,” read one flyer sent out by the Manchester Democratic Town Committee. In Greenwich, a local police sergeant was recently placed on paid administration leave pending an investigation, after admitting he purchased campaign signs that linked the GOP’s first selectman candidate, state Rep. Fred Camillo, to Trump. They read, “Vote Republican — Vote Team Trump/Camillo” and “Make Greenwich Great Again.”
Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano has criticized Democrats for tying local and federal politics. While Democrats picked up some local seats in 2017, the first local election after Trump took office, the GOP still controls 101 of 169 municipal chief executive jobs.
“The Democrats have nothing to run on and so they’re simply to trying to divide people,” he said in a recent podcast. “They’re forgetting we’re friends and neighbors, they’re labeling. It’s wrong. This is not what local politics is about.”
Besides the national political rancor, this year’s municipal elections have been marked by more local controversies as well.
In Bridgeport, there’s been much debate for weeks about whether a new Democratic primary should be held. Some city activists are hoping the Connecticut Supreme Court on Monday will overturn the results of the Sept. 10 election, which was marked by absentee ballot irregularities. Incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim won the primary after receiving the majority of votes cast by absentee. A lower court last week blocked a request for another Democratic primary.
Meanwhile, there have been reports of online insults and threats aimed at female local candidates from both major parties during this year’s election cycle.
Senate Democrats recently gathered in Sprague to show support for Democratic state Sen. Cathy Osten, who is seeking re-election as the town’s first selectman. Commenters on the Connecticut Republican Party’s Facebook page had suggested she should be shot or knocked out, in response to allegations she drove on someone’s lawn while campaigning. Romano called the posts “over the top and disappointing,” noting they were not from anyone connected with the party.
Republican New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart, who is seeking re-election, has also been subjected to online insults in this election season.