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Election 2022: Who's running for Connecticut's U.S. Senate seat?

While incumbant Sen. Richard Blumenthal is not facing any Democratic challengers, three Republicans are competing for the top spot to run against him.
Credit: FOX61

CONNECTICUT, USA — While incumbent Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal isn't facing any primary challengers, his Republican opponents are duking it out to challenge him this fall.

Here's a look at the candidates. Jump to:

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D, incumbent)

Themis Klaredis (R)

Leora Levy (R) 

Peter Lumaj (R)

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Sen. Richard Blumenthal

Despite facing the lowest approval ratings of his career, according to Quinnipiac University – Blumenthal has yet to lose a race in his 37-year career. 

Blumenthal started his career as a U.S. Attorney for Connecticut from 1977 to 1981 before heading to the state’s House of Representatives from 1984 to 1987. From there, he moved to the State Senate from 1987 to 1990 and worked as a volunteer attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. 

Blumenthal was elected to serve an unprecedented five terms (20 years) as Connecticut’s Attorney General. 

In 2010, Blumenthal was first elected to the U.S. Senate and was reelected in 2016. He has served in this position ever since. 

When it comes to gun control, he and the other current U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy have been vocal in their push for more restrictions on gun access. 

At the end of July, Blumenthal and Murphy joined eight senators to introduce legislation to combat the increase and proliferation of gun conversion devices. 

“This measure will crack down on dangerous firearm modification devices that threaten public safety,” said Blumenthal. “Access to cheap, easy-to-use conversion tools allows common firearms to be turned into fully-automatic weapons of war. Our legislation will prevent trafficking and seize the profits of wrongdoers intent on causing harm – key efforts needed to address our nation’s gun violence epidemic.”

RELATED: Tentative Senate gun deal has surprises, and loose ends

Blumenthal also recently joined other Democrats in the Senate, calling for the senate to protect access to birth control and reproductive health care following the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade. The court's decision threw abortion-seekers back into the land of uncertainty regarding health care rights. 

Blumenthal spoke out against the court's decision when it was handed down: 

In overturning Roe, the Court strips women of the freedom to make their own healthcare decisions and puts that power in the hands of the government.

A woman no longer has the right to decide when and whether to bear children. In fact, if Mitch McConnell is in charge, he’ll be leading a national ban on abortion, shredding laws in Connecticut and other states protecting women’s choice

Every American should have the right to decide whether and when to have children. Politicians do not know better than women what kind of care they need from their physicians. The government should never be allowed to dictate decisions about pregnancy that should remain between a woman and her doctor. The government should not be able to impose a forced pregnancy on anyone – especially a pregnancy that is the result of abuse or rape or threatens their life.

RELATED: Connecticut leaders react to Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade

In 2020, Blumenthal praised the Supreme Court for blocking then President Trump's attempts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The program, put in place by President Obama's administration, allows children brought to the United States by their families, not through the set immigration process, temporary protection from deportation and allows them to work in the country. 

"Now they’ll have greater security," Blumenthal said at the time. "But, this decision ought to inspire us to seek permanent and comprehensive reform of a broken immigration system, so they have a path to real citizenship."

A year before, Blumenthal introduced legislation to prevent immigration officers from deporting people living in the country. The legislation would have held immigration officials accountable if they violented their own policies of generally avoiding enforcement in safe areas where immigrations can see refuse like churches, schools and hospitals. 

The legislation has not moved out of its preliminary stages

RELATED: Immigration coalitions team up with Blumenthal to help Afghan refugees settle in Connecticut

In March, Blumenthal and other senators introduced the "Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax" act to curb profiteering by oil companies and try to help lower high gas prices. The legislation was introduced in the House where it remains at this time.

You can read more about Blumenthal's legislative proposals on his Senate website.

Blumenthal serves on the Senate Judiciary, Commerce, Science & Transportation, Armed Services and Veterans' Affairs committees. He also serves on the Special Committee for Aging. 

Blumenthal is not facing a challenger in the primaries.

Themis Klaridis

Three Republicans are vying for the top spot to take on Blumenthal with former State Rep. Themis Klarides as the GOP convention-endorsed candidate. 

Klarides was first elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1998 and assumed office in 1999, representing district 114 which serves Orange, Woodbridge, and Derby. 

From 2014 to 2020, Klarides was the first woman to hold the House Republican leader position in Connecticut’s history. Klarides led Republicans to push back on the 2017 state budget by former Gov. Dannel Malloy, advocating for a budget that does not raise taxes and mitigates municipal aid losses by reallocating funds. 

The budget battle in 2017 found Klarides and House Republicans in contention with Democrats and Malloy.  

"If you're asking me if any of my members will be voting for the Democrats' budget the answer is no. And the fact that the Speaker says that with pride, it saddens me," said Klarides, responding to State Sen. Martin Looney, president pro tempore at the time who said the budget was neither as good as some hoped nor bad as some feared. 

RELATED: House passes bipartisan budget, sends bill to governor

The showdown over the budget was one of many vocal oppositions Klarides, and the Republicans had to the state’s Democratic leadership under Malloy and Gov. Ned Lamont. 

Klarides regularly faced off against Lamont once he was in office. Republicans pushed back against a bill increasing Connecticut’s minimum wage over five years, saying it would hurt the economy and local businesses. 

She also led pushback against proposed tolls by Lamont.

In April 2020, as the pandemic was first starting to impact the state, Klarides announced she would not be seeking a 12th term. 

Before leaving office, Klarides pushed back against the state’s proposed police accountability bill that was drawn up after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd’s death sparked protests across the country calling for more police accountability. 

Part of the bill included a more controversial topic: Qualified immunity. 

Qualified immunity protects an officer within the scope of their duty – meaning a member of the public is essentially blocked from suing a police officer unless that officer violated clear, established constitutional rights. 

"You can sue them now. You can sue the town,” said Klarides during the bill’s debate during a special session. “You can sue people involved in it. It is fallacy that they can’t be sued if they do something but if they are acting within the scope of their job and their training that’s all we should ask of them."

The bill was later passed and was signed into law by Lamont. 

RELATED: Connecticut State Police Union endorses Klarides in run for U.S. Senate

Months after Klarides left office in January 2021, she announced she was exploring a run for governor in the 2022 election. She was the first Republican to announce an exploration into the race against Lamont. 

But, a year later in January 2022, Klarides had still not filed paperwork to run, and Bob Stefanowski, a Republican who ran against Lamont in 2018, announced his bid. 

Klarides switched track by the end of the month and announced she planned on running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Blumenthal. Klarides said Blumenthal was the “poster boy” for Washington D.C. dysfunction. 

Klarides said that increasing inflation, unaffordability, and crime affected Connecticut and the rest of the country.

The Connecticut State Police Union soon endorsed Klarides, citing her 22-year record supporting law enforcement in the state. 

At the Republican convention in May, Klarides was endorsed by state Republicans. Leora Levy, a conservative from Greenwich and the state's Republican National Committeewoman, and Peter Lumaj, a conservative and attorney from Fairfield, each won more than the 15% of delegate support needed to force a primary.  

RELATED: GOP sees opportunity in 2022 election to defeat Blumenthal

Despite running as a Republican, Klarides is unapologetically pro-choice and said she would never support a national abortion ban.

“I will never let anybody bully me into something that I believe is not right. I have to represent the state of Connecticut,” explained Klarides. “This issue is not about being pro-abortion this issue is about being pro-choice. I’m not saying it would be a decision I could make for myself but I know I can’t make that decision for other women."

Klarides has not named specific plans on her website as to what she plans on doing if elected to Senate but has outlined her position on issues.

Leora Levy

Another Republican vying for the spot to run against Blumenthal is Leora Levy.  

Levy, who lives in Greenwich, currently serves as the Republican National Committeewoman for Connecticut and has been since 2016. Former President Donald Trump nominated her as the U.S. Ambassador to Chile in 2019.

She has served as finance chair for gubernatorial candidates in recent elections including Tom Foley in 2014 and Bob Stefanowski in 2018, as well as for the Connecticut Republican Party from 2013 to 2015. She has also served on the finance committee for the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and the National Republican Congressional Committee. 

RELATED: A look ahead at Connecticut primary races coming this August

Levy serves on the Board of Directors for Stamford-based Soldier Strong. The non-profit group provides essentials for troops overseas and new technology for paralyzed veterans to help get them back on their feet. 

Leora graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and has lived in Greenwich for 34 years. 

Levy’s stances on many issues that are top of mind for residents are not outlined on her official campaign website, which focuses mostly on foreign policy regarding Ukraine and Israel. 

The Hartford Courant reports that in a mailer to Republicans, Levy describes herself as “the only conservative, pro-life, pro-gun woman in this race.”

Peter Lumaj

Republican contender for the ticket Peter Lumaj is no stranger to the ballot. 

Born in Albania in 1967, Lumaj and his brothers escaped the communist country and immigrated to the United States in 1989. 

Living here, he learned English and became a lawyer in Fairfield. 

Lumaj has previously attempted a run for the U.S. Senate seat as a Republican in 2012  but was not endorsed by the party who went with Linda McMahon instead. 

In 2014, Lumaj ran as a Republican against incumbent Democrat Denise Merrill and the Green Party's Mike DeRosa. Merrill won the election.

RELATED: The Real Story – Peter Lumaj

Lumaj wasn't finished. In 2018, he attempted a bid to run as a Republican in the gubernatorial race. At the GOP convention in May, Lumaj did not receive enough delegates to continue on and land on the ballots for the August primary. 

In 2022, Lumaj is now attempting his second run at the U.S. Senate Seat, this time looking to unseat Blumenthal. 

Lumaj's priorities point to the conservative ideals he intends to bring to congress if elected. 

Where Klarides is unapologetically pro-choice, Lumaj states he's unapologetically "pro-life." 

"The creation of an unconstitutional right to abortion is the benchmark of such distortions stemming from judicial activism that blatantly ignores the spirit of our Founding documents," said Lumaj on his campaign website. 

RELATED: Poll: 2 in 3 in US favor term limits for Supreme Court justices

Lumaj also rejects the idea of "Critical Race Theory" taught in classrooms, saying teaching America's complicated history and only focusing on that without also teaching American exceptionalism does "great harm" to children. 

Regarding immigration, Lumaj supports "streamlining" the legal process for immigrants to come to America, blaming the Biden administration for failed immigration policies.

When it comes to lowering the cost of living, Lumaj says living in Connecticut is too expensive and that ending "wasteful government spending" and reducing taxes, it would help with the runaway inflation. Lumaj also supports implementing pro-energy policies to lower the cost of energy. 

Lumaj has not provided specifics when it comes to his priorities. You can read more about Lumaj on his website here.

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Connecticut's primary takes place on August 9 and election day is November 8. 

Learn more about voting and how to register here

Jennifer Glatz is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. She can be reached at jglatz@fox61.com.  

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