Tags: Connecticut | Governor | GOP | Themis Klarides

Connecticut's Gov. Contest Focuses On GOP's Themis Klarides

Connecticut's Gov. Contest Focuses On GOP's Themis Klarides
Themis Klarides chats with Newsmax's John Gizzi. (Newsmax)

By Tuesday, 18 April 2017 03:25 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Ever since Connecticut’s Democrat Gov. Dan Malloy announced he would not seek re-election last Thursday, there has been nonstop buzz as to who will succeed him in 2018.

Democratic likely contenders include state Sen. Ted Kennedy Jr., son of the late Massachusetts senator; and Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim, who won his old office back last year after serving seven years in prison on corruption charges.

In what could be a state version of the Republican presidential nomination contest last year, state GOP Chairman J.R. Romano told reporters that at least a dozen candidates could seek the gubernatorial standard.

But the Republican prospect who is the subject of most press speculation has so far done the least to become an active campaigner: Themis Klarides, Republican leader of the state House of Representatives and the public face of opposition to Malloy’s record-high tax increases that led at least two major businesses — General Electric and Sikorsky Aircraft — to flee Connecticut.

A Seymour attorney, the granddaughter of Greek immigrants, a bodybuilder and former model, Klarides proudly says “Themis was the [Greek] goddess of justice.” She is inarguably the most unique among Republicans mentioned for governor. She is the lone Republican prospect who is a woman.

Since becoming House Republican leader in 2015, Klarides has become akin to the leader of loyal opposition in a European country — pitted against Malloy in much the same way conservative Kyriakos Mitsotakis is against Greece’s Party of the radical Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

“I’m certainly thinking about the governorship,” Klarides told Newsmax during an interview in Farmington Monday morning. “I don’t have any timetable, but at a certain point, there is an election and one has to make a decision. My decision will be based on how I can better serve the state — as Republican leader or as speaker, if Republicans win the House, or as governor.”

“But right now,” she quickly added, “we have this horrific budget situation.”

Klarides was referring to the $3.5 billion deficit the Nutmeg State will face for the two year budget cycle starting July 1. One-half of the budget, she noted, “is for the meeting obligations of pensions and healthcare plans for state employees.”

Could this unhealthy cycle of tax-funded obligations to public employees be reversed and altered to require the employees to be co-payers, we asked, recalling what Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker did in 2011?

“A governor could do it, by opening up the contracts,” she replied, “or a Republican majority in the state senate and state House could do it. But as it is now [with a Democratic governor and Democratic majorities in both legislative chambers], the contracts cannot be opened until 2022.”

A strong sign that there is voter sentiment on the side of Klarides for major change is how the Republicans, as she put it, “have taken out 35 Democrats in the House in three election cycles, when we were losing the presidency in the state twice and the governorship once. And we’re almost in charge.” (The senate is tied with 18 members from each party and Democrats now cling to a 79-to-72 seat edge in the House.)

"I put 4,000 miles on my own car in the last three election cycles recruiting Republicans to run and then helping them getting elected,” she told me, “including my sister!” (Nicole Klarides Ditrias unseated Democratic Rep. Theresa Conroy to win a seat from Derby last year.)

Republicans now actively exploring the governor’s race range from past pursuants of state office including Danbury Mayor Mark Broughton (who has twice lost the gubernatorial nod), Trumbull First Selectman Timothy Herbst (who lost a race for state treasurer in 2014) and former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker, who made a losing bid for lieutenant governor in 2014.

“Waiting for Themis” is how a recent headline in the Hartford Courant characterized the GOP’s gubernatorial picture.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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The Republican prospect who is the subject of the most press speculation has so far done the least to become an active campaigner: Themis Klarides, Republican leader of the state House of Representatives.
Connecticut, Governor, GOP, Themis Klarides
Tuesday, 18 April 2017 03:25 PM
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