From Wyoming to Connecticut, The GOP Has Become Trump’s Party – The Blumenthal-Levy Senate Race 8/21/22
Is anyone the least bit surprised about Congressmember Liz Cheney’s primary drubbing? “Dripping Royal Red” Wyoming was Trump’s best state in both 2016 and 2020. Demagogue Donald clobbered Hillary there by 46 points, 68%-22%. In 2020, Biden “improved” on Trump’s margin by just 3 points to lose by a 43 percent margin, 70%-27% (Cohen & Cook 2022 Political Almanac). Trump’s “in your face” attitude plays “off the charts” in “laissez-faire”/ “get out of the way federal government” WY. If you have the “nerve” to oppose or criticize Donald in the slightest way, you are through as a GOP legislator. As WY’s GOP Congressmember-at-Large, Liz Cheney courageously put country over party. She did not yell “voter fraud” over Donald’s losing to Biden. She voted to impeach Donald for the 1/06/2022 insurrection he incited and did not hide her feelings about his role in this awful Capitol coup attempt. She worked with the Democrats on the Jan. 6 House Committee. Her reward? She wrote her own political obituary. Never mind that Cong. Cheney came from a GOP dynasty, with both of her parents activist Republicans. Never mind that her father Dick was Gerald Ford’s chief -of-staff, a former WY congressmember, HW Bush’s Defense Secretary, and W Bush’s VP for two terms. Never mind that Liz Cheney voted with Donald 93% of the time. Liz Cheney committed political apostasy in Donald’s “Red” party cult and had to be made a “non-person” (See huffpost.com, Skalka, 8/16/22). Cong. Cheney’s independence from Trump caused her to lose her #3 GOP post in the House and face national and local Republican censure. GOPers could care less that in 2020, Cong. Cheney handily won a third-term with 69% of the vote (CQ 1117th Cong. At Your Fingertips). That’s “bad ancient history.” Donald has sworn revenge against the 10 GOPers who voted to impeach him, especially Cheney. Of the GOP 2021 “Impeachment 10,” only two have survived the 2022 GOP primaries. The others have been defeated or have decided not to run again in 2022 (nytimes.com, Goldmacher, 8/17/22). In the 8/16/202 primary, with Donald’s strong endorsement, attorney Harriet Hageman pulverized Cheney. With about 94% of the votes counted, Hageman trounced Cheney by 37 points, 66%-29% (nytimes.com, 8/16-17/2022). Enough said about Cheney’s horrendous defeat.
Hard-right WY is no GOP outlier. Trump’s cult of personality and his demand that all GOPers pledge absolute obedience to his views of the moment have also captured the Connecticut GOP. The Constitution State was known for its original Yankee Republican “moderation.” CT was the home of Prescott Bush, the “moderate” GOP Eisenhower era Senator, father of HW “Poppy” Bush and grandfather of W Bush who preached “compassionate conservatism (ctmirror.org, 8/10/22, Pazniokas).” On 8/09/2022, after receiving a late endorsement from Demagogue Donald, Leora Levy, a first-time political candidate won an upset victory in the CT GOP Senatorial primary. She defeated the party-endorsed candidate, former state House Minority Leader Themis Klarides. Levy took 51% of the vote, while another conservative, Peter Lumaj grabbed 9% (foxnews.com, AP, 8/10/22, Pazniokas, ctmirror.org, 8/10/22). In endorsing Levy, Demagogue Donald called Klarides, a RINO, the GOP epithet for “Republican in name only (Pazniokas, 8/10/22).” Klarides, supported abortion rights and some gun control measures. She did not vote for Trump in 2020. Levy, a socially conservative member of the Republican National Committee, spoke in her hometown of Greenwich, home of the late Prescott Bush. Levy told cheering supporters, “We’re making history here. It’s really exciting.” She thanked Donald for his endorsement. She promised, “I will not let you down. Thank you for having my back (foxnews.com, AP, 8/10/22, huffpost.com, AP, Haigh, 8/20/22).” In the 11/2022 general election, Levy will be facing Democratic U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal who is running for a third term. Who is Leora Levy?
Born in 1957 Cuba, first-time political candidate Leora Levy (65) fled to the U.S. to escape Fidel Castro’s Communist regime (greenwichtime.com, Kroeker, J. 12/12/19). She speaks fluent Spanish and is Jewish. Her mother and grandparents fled Lithuania in 1940 to escape the Communists and the Nazis (leoraforct.com, Official Senate Campaign Website, foxnews.com, AP, 8/10/22). Levy’s grandfather was formerly president of Havana, Cuba’s Vertientes-Camaguey Sugar Company. Leora Levy graduated from Brown University in 1978. She worked in the financial industry. Levy was one of the first female commodity traders to work as a sugar trader and Assistant Vice President at Ambrit Sugars. She worked as a trader at International Sugar, Steel and Copper Concentrates and was a Traffic Executive for Philbro-Salomon, Inc. (foxnews.com, AP, trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov, 9/26/19). From 2013-2015, Levy served as finance chair for GOP Bob Stefanowski during his nearly successful 2018 bid for Governor of CT (Cohen & Cook 2022, Kroeker, 12/12/19, greenwichtime.com). Levy is a representative from CT to the Republican National Committee (RNC). In 2019, she won the Prescott Bush Award, the CT Republican Party’s highest honor (newyorker.com/magazine, Osnos, 5/03/20, courant.com, Altimari & Keating).
Levy initially supported FL Gov. Jeb Bush in the 2016 GOP presidential primary. She called Donald “vulgar, ill-mannered, and disparages those whom he cannot intimidate.” Like many other GOPers, she later flipped and applauded Demagogue Donald’s “leadership (See Osnos, 5/03/20, newyorker.com/magazine).” On 9/26/2019, Trump announced his intention to nominate Levy as U.S. Ambassador to Chile. On 1/03/2020, Levy’s nomination was returned to Trump under Senate Rule XXXI, Paragraph 6. That rule states that nominations not confirmed or rejected by the Senate at the time that body adjourns for a period of more than 30 days are returned to the President (crsreports.congress.gov). In 5/2020, Levy’s renomination to that post was again sent to the Senate. Her renomination was returned to Trump under the same senate rule on 1/03/21 (whitehouse.archives.gov, 10/25/19, congress.gov, 1/03/20 & 1/03/21).
In 2/2022, Levy voted for a package of RNC (Republican National Committee) resolutions that included a censure of GOP Congressmembers Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). Another of these RNC resolutions Levy voted for characterized the 1/06/2021 riot as “legitimate political discourse (ct.mirror.org, 2/09/22).” Incumbent 6th-term Rep. Kinzinger is one of the “Trump 1/06/2021 Impeachment 10” who decided not to run again in 2022 (See nytimes.com, Goldmacher, 8/17/22, CQ 117th Congress At Your Fingertips).
In 2/2022, Levy announced she was running for the U.S. Senate in CT. On 8/04/2022, five days before the CT GOP primary, Donald endorsed Levy in a live phone call (Pazniokas, 8/04/22, ctmirror.org). When Levy jumped into the GOP Senate primary, she was relatively unknown, according to Peter Lumaj, the other conservative candidate in the CT GOP Senate primary. Lumaj stated that Trump’s late endorsement “absolutely” affected the contest and gave Levy the advantage. Lumaj said, “This is a huge victory for President Trump in our state. That changed everything. The primary voters have spoken. They still support the president regardless of who the endorsed candidate is (foxnews.com, AP, 8/1022).”
As previously stated, GOPer Levy will now be facing Democrat Richard Blumenthal (76) who is running for his third term in the U.S. Senate. Blumenthal, like Levy is Jewish and his father Martin, was also a refugee. Martin Blumenthal fled Nazi Germany in 1935 at age 17 (ctmirror.org, 5/22/10, Hamilton, courant.com, 10/03/04). There, the similarities in their backgrounds end. While Levy’s family had strong connections to Havana business and finance, Blumenthal’s father came to the U.S. from Frankfurt alone, with little more than the shirt on his back. His father had little more than an elementary school education. Blumenthal’s father, deprived by the Nazis from going to college, sought to use the freedom he found in the U.S. to be successful. He married a Nebraska farm girl, Jane Rosenstock, turned social worker. She left the Midwest to attend Radcliffe College, then the female division of Harvard. She was the first person in the Blumenthal family to go to college, while Richard was the second (courant.com, Hamilton, 10/034/04). Sen. Blumenthal’s father became wealthy by trading commodities.
Brooklyn, NY native Richard Blumenthal received a 1967 undergraduate degree from Harvard and his 1973 law degree from Yale, where he was a classmate of Bill and Hillary Clinton. After law school, Blumenthal worked for Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham, future NY Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and was a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Ct. Justice Harry Blackmun in 1974, one year after that Justice authored the Roe v. Wade pro-choice opinion, now overruled (See Cohen & Cook, 2022). After working as a top aide for CT Sen. Abraham Ribicoff, whose seat he now occupies, Blumenthal was appointed by Pres. Carter to be U.S. Atty. for CT in 1977. Blumenthal won election to the CT Assembly in 1984 and won a seat in that state’s Senate chamber in 1987. In 1990, he won the race for CT Atty. General. In that office, Blumenthal sued health insurers, polluters, and Big Tobacco. He was re-elected four times to that post, never with less than 59% of the vote (Cohen & Cook, 2022). After Dem. U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd retired, Blumenthal ran for his seat in 2010. In that Tea Party anti-Obama year, Blumenthal had to contend with wealthy self-funder Linda McMahon, a co-founder of World Wrestling Entertainment. Blumenthal, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, was attacked by the GOP and the NY Times for wrongly saying he had served in Vietnam. Blumenthal apologized and still won with a comfortable 12-point margin, 55%-43% (Cohen & Cook, 2022).
Sen. Blumenthal is one of the 10 wealthiest members of Congress, largely because of his marriage to the former Cynthia Malkin, the daughter of real estate magnate Peter Malkin. Unlike other lawmakers, especially wealthy GOPers, Blumenthal has not forgotten his roots and the need to help his constituents. He is, according to Almanac ratings, among the 10 most liberal members of the Senate (Cohen & Cook, 2022). Demagogue Donald was always quite hostile to Sen. Blumenthal. Many people attribute Trump’s hostility to Blumenthal to the fact that the two of them were born in NY’s outer boroughs, Blumenthal in Brooklyn, Trump in Queens. Trump and Blumenthal’s father-in-law had ties to rival camps in the cutthroat battles over Manhattan real estate. Trump and Peter Malkin feuded over the ownership structure of NY’s Empire State Building (Cohen & Cook, 2022). Trump considered Blumenthal his least favorite Senator. Five months into Donald’s administration, Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, led nearly 200 Democrats in a lawsuit arguing that Trump, by keeping his global business empire, had violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause. That clause bars federal officials from accepting payments or gifts from foreign states. Blumenthal’s suit went after the Trump Hotel, just a few blocks from Capitol Hill, that played host to foreign embassy events and visiting foreign officials. A district court ruled in favor of Blumenthal’s suit. This suit was blocked by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in a decision that SCOTUS (the Supreme Ct. of the United States) later upheld. Blumenthal’s profile, however, grew outside of CT because of this litigation (Cohen & Cook, 2022).
Trump, additionally, went ballistic over Blumenthal’s opposition to his three SCOTUS nominees, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. When Trump announced, just weeks prior to the 2020 presidential election, his nomination of Barrett to take the place of the late Justice Ginsburg, Sen. Blumenthal tweeted that he would “refuse to treat this process as legitimate.” Sen. Blumenthal declined to meet with Barrett. Trump angrily and ridiculously tweeted that Blumenthal should be impeached for saying he was a war hero in Vietnam. Never mind that Senators can’t be impeached. They can only be expelled by a 2/3 vote in that chamber (Cohen & Cook, 2022). IMHO, Trump additionally resents Sen. Blumenthal because he is good at being media savvy, making him a threat to publicity-hungry Donald.
Sen. Blumenthal has been a consistently strong advocate for gun control. In 2012, his state was the site of the horrible Sandy Hook Elementary School gun massacre. He repeatedly tried to work across the political aisle and even with Trump for gun control, with no success. Finally, after the Buffalo, NY and Uvalde, TX gun massacres, Blumenthal was instrumental in getting the House and Senate to pass a compromise legislation bill to improve school safety and mental health programs that would stop some gun violence, a bill that Pres. Biden signed (ctpublic..org 6/12/22). Blumenthal is pro-choice. He was a lead sponsor of legislation to give women the right to abortion access and reproductive choice. The GOP blocked debate on this bill. Passage of this Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) is even more important after the Supreme Ct. overruled Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs opinion (Blumenthal, press release). Not forgetting his own family background, Blumenthal is a supporter of immigration rights and comprehensive immigration reform (Blumenthal, About, Issues).
Unlike Sen. Blumenthal, GOP senatorial nominee Levy opposes abortion rights. She has spoken out against job-related COVID-19 vaccine requirements and transgender rights (huffpost.com, AP, Haigh, 8/20/22). Levy objects to a provision encouraging states to pass laws like CT has that authorize the temporary seizure of firearms from owners deemed unfit. In Levy’s view, such laws should have required stronger due process provisions for gun owners. She would support arming teachers , if they are trained. Immigrant/refugee Levy opposes giving permanent legal status to the 800,000 young adults living in legal limbo for a decade under DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that Democrats support (ctmirror.org, Pazniokas & Hagen, 8/02/22).
Trump is not very popular in CT. Hillary won here by 14 points, and Biden had a 20 -point margin (Cohen & Cook, 2022). The “Southern fried” GOP with its socially evangelical tilt does not play well in this northern state. CT’s sizeable portion of Puerto Rican residents was not thrilled by Trump’s throwing towels at relatives in their former hurricane-stricken island. The over11% black population is solidly Democratic. Wealthy whites are more concerned with backing liberal cultural issues than worrying about taxes (See Cohen & Cook 2022). CT has not elected a GOP Senator since liberal Lowell Weicker who served from 1971-1989 (foxnews. Com, AP). Sen. Blunmenthal has started to hit Levy hard. In a fund-raising appeal, Blumenthal stated, “I’m up against a radical GOP opponent in the general election (Pazniokas, ctmirror.org, 8/10/22).” Blumenthal aptly declared, “I’m officially facing off against Trump’s hand-picked candidate in the general election—a radical Republican who will be nothing but a rubber stamp on Mitch McConnell’s disastrous agenda (huffpost.com, AP, Haigh, 8/20/22).”
In 11/2022, CT Democrats and moderates must vote in droves by re-electing Richard Blumenthal. Levy is too radical for CT. Our democracy depends on strongly defeating Trumpism everywhere it can.