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Republican Party Seeks Distance From Rowland, Wants To Focus On Unity

by Christine Stuart | Apr 10, 2014 10:01pm
(8) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Courts, Election 2014, Town News, Stamford

Christine Stuart photo

Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr.

STAMFORD — The backdrop for the biggest Republican Party fundraiser of the year was the indictment of former Republican governor and WTIC talk show host John G. Rowland.

Despite the whispers about how “sad” it was that Rowland would find himself under federal indictment for the second time in 10 years, Republicans tried to celebrate what was great about their party and also tried to distance themselves from the former governor.

“While there may be great fascination in this story, the fact is John Rowland has no connection to the Connecticut Republican Party nor has he for over 10 years,” Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. said in a statement.

Many acknowledged the indictment and shared the same sentiment as state Rep. Arthur O’Neill, R-Southbury, who was co-chairman of the impeachment panel in 2004 — a panel that never completed its work because Rowland opted to resign.

O’Neill said he was surprised, not so much at the news Thursday about the seven count indictment, but that it had happened again.

“He’s the best retail politician I’ve ever known,” O’Neill said. “It’s a shame that such a talent is being wasted.”

Ross Garber, who was Rowland’s chief legal counsel in 2004 when he resigned before the first federal indictment, declined to comment on Rowland’s current situation.

Christine Stuart photo

Jeb Bush

Joe Visconti of West Hartford, who is running for governor, said there are a lot of good Republicans out there and he feels that some are underestimating the courage it took for Mark Greenberg and Mike Clark, a former FBI agent and congressional candidate, to come forward.

“We can’t go back. We have to go forward,” Visconti said. “John knew better.”

In his remarks to the more than 800 Republicans in attendance, Labriola tried to shift the focus to Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

“There should be no question Connecticut’s economy is owned by Gov. Dan Malloy and this election will be a referendum on Dan Malloy’s economy,” Labriola said.

Most of the Republican candidates for governor were seated at the head table.

Mark Greenberg, who is running again for the Republican nomination in the 5th Congressional District and played a prominent role in the Rowland indictment for turning down a similar consulting deal back in 2010, declined to comment on the situation.

“I really can’t talk about this at this time. I’m here at the Bush dinner and I’m here with my wife and I’d like to celebrate at this time,” Greenberg said.

But Bill Evans, Greenberg’s campaign manager, sent out a statement after the dinner.

“We are sensitive to the fact that this is part of an ongoing criminal investigation,” Evans said. “At this point Mark has offered all the information he knows as it relates to former governor John Rowland. He is confident in the U.S. Attorney’s office’s [ability] to handle this matter appropriately.”

At the dinner, two-time candidate for U.S. Senate Linda McMahon received the Prescott Bush award, named after Jeb Bush’s grandfather.

Christine Stuart photo

Linda McMahon

McMahon, who spent and raised more than $100 million on two failed campaigns, pointed out that in order to be successful as a party Republicans must unite.

“Democrats are counting on Republicans to stay divided,” McMahon said. “Tea Party vs. RINO. But if we want to achieve the higher goals we agree on, we have to work not just across the aisle but within our own side of the aisle.”

Bush, the former Florida governor, said everyone but President Barack Obama and his supporters know entitlement reform is necessary.

“There’s no way to invest in the long-term things that create sustained economic growth unless we begin to be grown up about our entitlement system,” Bush said. “We’ll have to wait until President Obama leaves the stage, but we’ll have to be real with the American people that this is not sustainable.”

Christine Stuart photo

Jeb Bush

He said Obamacare must be repealed and replaced and Republicans have a “huge opportunity,” rather than a problem, in immigration reform.

“There is no conflict between enforcing our laws, believing in the rule of law, and having some sensitivity to the immigrant experience, which is a part of who we are as a country,” Bush said.

He said perpetuating a situation that’s broken will not solve the country’s problems.

“Never, never bet against American innovation to solve problems,” Bush said.

Bush offered a message to the party’s gubernatorial candidates: “When you get control be big. Be bold. Change the system. Make it child-centered. Focus on the learning gains of each and every child. Break up the monopolies. More school choice, higher standards, more accountability.”

He said the one thing Republicans need to focus on is winning because winning matters.

“Making a point is not as important anymore as winning,” he added.

He joked that there were a whole lot of Connecticut residents in his home state of Florida.

“And you can’t blame them, because you all may be coming, too, sooner or later, unless you elect a Republican Governor,” Bush said.

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(8) Comments

posted by: IOU | April 11, 2014  10:00am

IOU

Jen looks old or just scared on tails of another huge CT felonious scandal involving major portions of CT Republican Party.

posted by: IOU | April 11, 2014  10:02am

IOU

*Jeb

posted by: StanMuzyk | April 11, 2014  3:13pm

@IOU Your comment has no substance and leaves a failed message of “attempted political gobbly-gook.”

posted by: IOU | April 11, 2014  6:31pm

IOU

And yours is just, so, eloquent.

posted by: Lawrence | April 12, 2014  7:49am

Was Jeb speaking at the wrong fundraiser?

Does he know he’s talking to CT Republicans about immigration?

They should be a moderate bunch, but aren’t. Every single CT Republican in the legislature voted against the CT Dream Act in 2011 (in-state tuition rates at state universities for children of undocumented immigrants, who vow to become US citizens).

Yet, that very same public policy had already passed in many different Blue states across the country.

What an odd choice for a fundraising speaker, and an odd (though courageous) topic for him to address, on a very uncomfortable night for die-hard Republican politicos across CT.

posted by: shinningstars122 | April 12, 2014  8:54am

shinningstars122

This comment sums it all up where the Republican party is in CT.
>>>>“He’s the best retail politician I’ve ever known,” O’Neill said. “It’s a shame that such a talent is being wasted.”

In many ways the CT Republican depended on Rowland’s “retail” skills and his talent hosting his radio show five afternoons a week blasting, the other party so to say he was not still a player is ludicrous.

Wilson-Foley was part of the establishment folks.

These people know it’s gonna be RINO vs Teaparty when the primaries come up in many local elections.

Plus not one quote from the bumbling Tom Foley who has his head so far up the CCDL you know what, it is not funny.

Bring it on!

CT needs a battle of ideologies and destroying the status quo, for both parties, in the process.

Careful what you wish for teaparty folk.

You will battling it from all sides this election season.

posted by: Bethy | April 13, 2014  7:31pm

Bethy

“unbelievable”.....

posted by: StanMuzyk | April 13, 2014  8:35pm

“Rediculous.”