The following was compiled from a press release from the Wilton Democratic Town Committee.
Seven Democratic candidates, led by U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, urged a crowd of over 100 at the Wilton Democratic Town Committee’s annual Fall Barbecue to get involved—and stay involved—in the months leading up to the November mid-term elections.
“I’ve been at this 10 years,” said Himes, who is running for reelection in the U.S. 4th District. “I never imagined that I would be going to Washington to fight battles that we had won in the 1950s and 1960s.” Himes said concerns about threats to women’s reproductive rights, environmental laws, health care, and gun safety legislation as something that has energized not just Democrats, but unaffiliated voters and even some Republicans.
“What can turn everything around is not argument,” Himes said. “It is an electoral rebuke that has not been seen in a very long time.” He said the turnout at this year’s DTC barbecue encouraged him. “In 10 years, this is the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen, probably by a factor of two.”
Joining Himes were several candidates: Susan Bysiewicz (Lieutenant Governor), William Tong (Attorney General), Kevin Lembo (Comptroller), Doug Stern (Probate Judge), Stephanie Thomas (State Representative, 143rd district), Ross Tartell (State Representative, 125th district) and Will Haskell (State Senate, 26th district).
They were energized, but echoed one another to supporters at the event, reiterating that volunteers had to continue campaigning in force through to the election.
“We should feel confident, but not complacent. Complacency kills Democrats,” Stern said. “What did [the 2016 Presidential election] mean? It meant we didn’t work hard enough. That’s not a lecture. It’s a rallying cry. If we work hard now we can look back years from now and say, we were part of righting a terrible wrong.”
Bysiewicz said early polls favored Democratic state candidates, too, but that didn’t mean volunteers should ease up. “All that door-knocking, phone calling, person-to-person networking that you’re doing is critical. We remember the days when the Wilton Democratic Town Committee was not so mighty and not so energetic and enthusiastic and we thank you for all you’re doing.”
Attorney General candidate Tong, said he’s knocked on about 6,000 doors, and challenged the other candidates to do the same by encouraging Democratic voters to ask their office-seekers that simple question: “How many doors?” He said that Trump administration policies have had a “punishing” impact on Connecticut residents, especially in areas like immigration, the environment, and taxes. “If you’re a Connecticut resident, you have a target on your back. This is not the world I want my kids to grow up in. So remember, this is why we fight.”
The president was a target for local candidates Tartell, Thomas, and Haskell as well.
“Don’t underestimate the power of Donald Trump in this election,” Tartell said. “People are really unhappy, and they don’t know what to do. We’re what they can do. People will vote for us even if they are unaffiliated or Republican.”
“I meet people who say because of what Trump says and because of what he tweets, they are not going to vote for a Republican at any level,” Haskell told supporters.
Thomas urged attendees not only to volunteer but to get out the vote. “I’ve actually heard Democrats say they might not vote,” said Thomas. “Make sure you talk about voting all the time.”
DTC chair Tom Dubin was upbeat, looking back at both successes Wilton Democrats have had locally in last November’s elections as well as higher participation levels in the recent primary. He thanked the candidates and savored the turnout at the bbq. “The attendance, the enthusiasm we felt today, it all speaks to the deep engagement Democrats have in the process now,” said Dubin. “We are about to send a powerful message.”