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A Fight For The Heart and Soul of The Republican Party

by | Jun 25, 2013 5:30am () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Election 2013, Election 2014, Local Politics, Newtown, Wallingford

Christine Stuart file photo It started out as a three-way race and then swelled to four this weekend, but the race for Republican Party Chairman was back down to two candidates by Sunday.

Ronald Wilcox of Newtown will challenge Jerry Labriola Jr. of Wallingford for the heart and soul of the Connecticut Republican Party tonight in Bristol.

Wilcox, the state coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, has been calling the 72 members of the Republican State Committee asking for their votes. He even stepped down from his Tea Party post in order to run for the chairmanship.

A third candidate, Wayne Winsley dropped out of the race Sunday and threw his support behind Labriola. He said the current chairman has been “re-energized and is more open to explore and take on some challenges.”

Winsley’s wife, April, on the other hand, was far more blunt on Facebook about how she thought her husband was treated by the party for trying to take on the challenge of its leadership. 

“The bitterness and downright disrespect that comes from not agreeing with everyone on everything. It is IMPOSSIBLE to please all people at all times,” Mrs. Winsley posted on Facebook. “. . . Maybe he is naive in thinking he can effect change in a political party that obviously would eat their young rather than pull together for one cause.”

Paul Bass file photo Winsley is a motivational speaker who challenged U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro in 2012.

He said there seems to be a great amount of “timidity” in the Republican Party when it comes to campaigning in Connecticut’s three largest urban areas. As someone who ran a congressional campaign, “I know we don’t have to change who we are. Voters want clear, delineated options.”

He said the Republican Party needs to have at least a presence in the cities because “time and population have caught up with the Connecticut Republican Party and you can’t win with only the suburbs and small towns.”

If there’s any evidence that the Republican Party is struggling in Connecticut, look no further than its Congressional delegation where there hasn’t been a Republican since 2008. Republicans are also in the minority in the state’s General Assembly and they no longer hold the governor’s office.

Wilcox wasn’t critical of the job Labriola has done. He also wasn’t critical of the job Labriola’s predecessor, Chris Healy, had done with the party.

Healy was mentioned as a possible contender for his old job, but declined to take his supporters up on the offer Sunday. He posted a Facebook comment thanking his supporters for trying to recruit him for the post.

“To put blame on either Healy or Labriola would be wrong,” Wilcox said in a phone interview last week. “This is probably a 10-year cycle of us spiraling down as a party.”

Courtesy of Facebook He said Healy was good with messaging and Labriola “has other strengths,” but he is convinced the party needs someone who is able to market the Republican brand to the state’s unaffiliated voters.

“Unaffiliated voters [are the] largest majority of voters and most are center-right, so why aren’t we attracting them?” Wilcox said. “We have to identify what Republicans stand for.”

Wilcox doesn’t believe the Republicans in Connecticut have to be any different than Republicans in the rest of the country. He seems to want to take the party, which is closer to the center in Connecticut on social issues, harder to the right.

He also wanted the Republican Party to take the lead in the recent debate on gun control legislation. Republican legislative leaders supported the bipartisan measure.

Wilcox criticized Labriola for canceling the state central committee meetings in February and March when the debate on guns was taking place in the legislature. He said the party should have decided collectively what the response should have been to that debate.

Wilcox said he would govern in a more “bottom up manner.” He also believes it’s the Republican Town Committees and State Central that should speak for the Republican Party, not the legislative leadership.

Labriola declined an interview for this story, but he did submit a statement.

“I am confident of my re-election as chairman and look forward to continuing to build the Republican Party heading into the municipal elections and the critical 2014 campaign cycle.”

The election will be held at 6 p.m. tonight at Nuchies in Bristol.

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(10) Archived Comments

posted by: ASTANVET | June 25, 2013  8:47am

The Republican party will continue to struggle in CT mostly because they are not [r]epublican in their actions or thinking.  They are RINO’s - no conservative wants to vote for a RINO.  I honestly think that a principled libertarian would have a good shot in CT (if they were allowed in the public square) - libertarianism fits the mold for CT more than what the GOP has become over the last 20 years or so.  I do not hold out much hope for a Libertarian because whomever would call for individual liberty and individual freedom, property rights, etc would be so demonized by both the GOP and the Democrats the smear campaign would take too high a toll - the Corporatists that we have today would win…party affiliation is immaterial here in CT.

posted by: Joebigjoe | June 25, 2013  9:06am

I heard this guy Wayne Winsley on the radio once. I was very impressed with his message. The problem like so many other things is that this isnt about message or ideas for the Republicans (yes this is my party) but is about connections and who paid dues.

One just needs to look at how Obama was elected in 2008. Style over substance. He said he would transform America and some of us asked what that meant, and others hooted and hollered with glee never caring what that meant. I think that its abundantly clear that they were wrong not to ask those questions.

posted by: timelord | June 25, 2013  11:32am

Labriola said he looks “forward to continuing to build the Republican Party…”  Hmph!  In order to *continue* to build the Republican party he would first have to *start* building the Republican party!

The Republicans in CT are one big, unfunny joke starting with Labriola, McKinney and Cafero.  The fact that Cafero and McKinney both voted for the immoral gun control bill is proof that they don’t care about individual rights and are completely ignorant of the realities of the effects of gun prohibition.

ASTANVET is right that we need some libertarians.  Unfortunately it’s nearly impossible to get elected on the Libertarian Party ballot line and the few libertarians who have tried to work within the Republican party have been treated like lepers and driven away.

I know nothing about Mr. Wilcox but I intend to research his positions.

posted by: Mack | June 25, 2013  11:42am

Sorry to hear Winsley pulled out.  He would have been good.  Healey was a Rino who let the party fade, and Labriola is a clown. They’ve all been afraid to take on the voter fraud issues in the cities, and the party has paid the price in stolen elections and a tyrannical new state government. So now what?  I’d give Wilcox a shot.  The GOP has nothing to lose with a new guy and a fresh start.  They’ve lost everything else they could lose.

posted by: Joebigjoe | June 25, 2013  6:34pm

Who won?

If Labriola then the republicans lost

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | June 25, 2013  6:43pm

The GOP is toast, and they have no one to blame but themselves. The radical T people are into them too deep. All reasonableness has evaporated. It’s really sad.


posted by: Joebigjoe | June 25, 2013  10:01pm

Doc, I don’t belong to a tea party nor have I donated to one. However this country is 17 trillion in debt and maybe 100 trillion in unfunded liabilities. The Constitution has been shredded by the Obama administration and other liberals. I want the Repub party to show leadership on these issues and the RINOS aren’t. Whats wrong with the tea party and moving towards their views and not away from them?

posted by: redlady | June 26, 2013  5:30am

The vote is in and so is Labriola. Since he puts forth no strong public communications re: his own principals, one can only pray he takes a lesson away from last night’s proceedings and puts more effort into organizing and rallying the base.  Until that happens we will be having the same discussion in 2015.
As for TPP and strong conservative values, why would any Republican who is here complaining about those values do so if you are a Republican?  If those aren’t your values perhaps you are in the wrong party.

posted by: ASTANVET | June 26, 2013  9:04am

Redlady is 100% right - there are factions within the GOP, but conservative principles should prevail.  the Tea Party embodies conservative values - financial responsibility, a libertarian ideal where I don’t presume to know how to run your life better than you do… Perhaps it is time that conservatives stop splitting hairs on which brand name they enjoy and go for the people who represent those conservative principles.  Folks always get wrapped around the axle when it comes to social issues. It doesn’t have to be that way… keep up the fight for limited government - at some point maybe the rest of CT will wake up and see that the government of CT, RINO’s especially have brought nothing but misery, and financial destruction.  It will take 40-50 years of dedicated hard work to dig CT out of the hole we are in today, and that won’t happen with the wishy washy RINO’s who we are stuck with in the state.

posted by: Joebigjoe | June 26, 2013  11:07am

I was torn as to where to post this, but I felt it was an example of Republican weakness. The Republicans should make sure that everyone in this state is aware of this, but they wont.This is news today.

“In the final push toward the Senate gun control vote on April 17 2013, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) admitted Democrats were flying Newtown families into DC to break a Republican filibuster–he also admitted that those families did not know they were going to be used for that purpose until the plane carrying them was already in the air.

The families thought they were coming to DC to oppose “high capacity” magazines.  But according to The New York Times, once the families were in the air aboard Air Force One, Murphy let them know they would used “to get a vote on a vote.”

Here’s how Murphy put it:

They thought they were coming down here to argue for a ban on high capacity magazines and universal background checks, and we told them they coming to argue to avert a filibuster and allow us to debate. And that was really heartbreaking and deflating for some of them. But they rose to the occasion, and it was wonderful to see them at the end of the trip feeling like they had made a difference.”

These families are being used as has been stated here many times. Does it get any clearer?

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