Social media post takes center stage in special state House election

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An Instagram post from last year is at the center of Tuesday’s special election for the vacant 19th State House seat.

First reported in the Hartford Courant on Wednesday, the Instagram post from October 2018 by GOP candidate Bob Margolis shows him pointing a handgun with the text “My Happy Face.” 

State Democrats and Margolis’s Democratic opponent in the special election, Tammy Exum, jumped on the revelation, saying it’s “scary.”

“The thing that really resonated with me is thinking about the people of the 19th District and what their values really are, I just feel it’s a bit out of step,” Exum told News 8’s George Colli. “I think it’s what he cares about and his passions are around, but it was important for people to understand it.”

Margolis is not shying away from the post. As general manager of the Hartford Gun Club and a certified gun safety instructor, Margolis said responsible gun safety is in his blood.

“I literally grew up at the Hartford Gun Club. My dad was president of this club in the late 1960’s,” said Margolis. “It’s absolutely critical to me to display proper firearm handling. The picture the Courant chose to run is an Instagram promotional photograph of me properly gripping a handgun.”

Margolis said he is a supporter of the Second Amendment, but guns are not a focus in his campaign in portions of West Hartford, Avon and Farmington. He said there are no references to guns on his campaign social media pages or website. He said he’s running against proposed sales tax hikes and tolls.

“As a candidate, I’m socially liberal and fiscally conservative,” said Margolis. “This race is all about taxes. It’s all about tolls. It’s about trying to get Connecticut to be on top of the national rankings again, not on the bottom.”

Exum said she believes the state needs to take advantage of the revenues that would come in from tolling out of state drivers, but would like to see state residents get a deep discount.

A former teacher and West Hartford Board of Education member, Exum said guns and tolls are not what residents bring up when she goes door-to-door.

She said schools are often the first topic of conversation, but, for the most part, people have a positive outlook on the direction of the state.

“The thing that is really striking is, I ask people ‘What are you thinking about? What are you experiencing? They say, ‘Right now, things are pretty good for me.’”

The special election is Tuesday April 16.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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