HARTFORD, Conn. — Thursday night, former president Donald Trump endorsed GOP candidate Leora Levy for the U.S. Senate.
This endorsement was a surprise to some, but a welcome push for Levy just days before the primary.
The endorsement happened via a phone call at a Montville Republican Town Committee event Thursday night.
Some now wonder how influential Trump could really be for Connecticut Republicans.
“I prayed for this endorsement. I was hoping for this endorsement,” said Levy. “It caught me by surprise.”
Levy said Trump’s endorsement pegs her as the strongest candidate in the U.S. Senate race.
“I promised to nationalize this race and now people can see Connecticut matters,” she said. “Connecticut is in play. We will turn Connecticut red in November and I am the candidate to do that.”
State party-endorsed opponent Themis Klarides disagrees.
In a statement, Klarides wrote, “I am proud to be endorsed by those who know how to win in Connecticut: Mayors, First Selectmen, town councilors, state representatives, state senators, and town committee chairs. From Greenwich to Putnam; Torrington to Stonington, I have the support of the grassroots, the Republican party, law enforcement—including the full endorsement of the state police and the Fraternal Order of Police—and those who actually win elections in this state.”
Klarides nodded to Trump’s loss in Connecticut to Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
“People have the benefit of hindsight now,” Levy said. “Look at how much better off we were under President Trump.”
State Democrats were shocked by the endorsement Thursday, calling it “astonishing.”
“I think it's a huge problem,” said vice chair of the Connecticut Democrats Adrienne Billings-Smith. “Connecticut is not an extreme state, Connecticut folks want to work together. When they see people who are riding that line of extremism, it turns them off as voters.”
Levy has been accused of flip-flopping on her conservative beliefs by her primary challengers. She previously supported Jeb Bush over Trump in the 2016 presidential primary.
In a February 2016 op-ed, she wrote Trump is “vulgar, ill-mannered and disparages those whom he cannot intimidate.”
“When I said things I've never met him,” said Levy. “I was supporting a different candidate. That was politics. Once I met him, I had an opportunity to discuss the issues and his policies. I knew he was the right candidate.”
With just days until the primary, Levy believes this endorsement will be enough to propel her to the front of this contested Senate race, but time will tell if this gets Republican voters in her favor on August 9.
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