• Is It Time For New Leadership In The CT GOP?

    CT GOP Chairman Ben Proto

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    There appears to be a battle brewing inside the Connecticut Republican Party that's years in the making.

    It's a battle between MAGA, and the RINOs / Never Trumpers (aka "the establishment") and which faction's political candidates get to run for office.

    Even within these factions, there are other battles, like who is "real MAGA" and who's faking their MAGA credentials just to score a spot in the next Trump Administration.

    Let's take the recent CT GOP Convention to select a candidate to take on Senator Chris Murphy as an example.

    Republican Town Committee delegates from across the state convened on May 13th in order to endorse the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.

    By many accounts, this year's senate convention was poorly run and suffered a number of logistical issues.

    One attendee even joked about whether "Wanda the Ballot Stuffer" had been working the convention after a count of votes yielded a different number (892) than what the computer counted (777).

    It turns out there were 892 delegates, so CT GOP Chairman Ben Proto had to call on the Chairperson of the Credentials Committee, Annalisa Stravato, to offer an amendment on an amended credentials report to straighten out the issue and correct the number of delegates.

    Before the convention started, many Republicans thought candidate Gerry Smith, the First Selectman of Beacon Falls who didn't vote in 2020 or in the 2024 Presidential preference primary, had it in the bag.

    But that changed after Smith was overheard telling a group of Greenwich Republicans he planned on backing Stravato for RNC National Committeewoman.

    This news didn't sit well with certain Greenwich Republicans who strongly preferred that their hometown candidate, Leora Levy, held onto the position, and believed she is still the right person for the job. They started to work the room to help candidate Matt Corey, who previously challenged Murphy in 2018, and has name recognition among Republicans.

    Corey announced late in the game, at the end of April, after assessing the candidates in the race, and deciding he was better positioned than others to take on Murphy. Meanwhile, Gerry Smith announced in February and has been busy meeting RTCs, attending dinners and events, and fundraising ever since.

    At the end of the convention, Smith was the top vote getter, but Corey earned enough votes to automatically qualify for a primary.

    Sure enough, the following day, May 14th, Corey confirmed he was ready for the primary challenge.

    The idea of a primary was met with a mixed response.

    The RINOs and Never Trumpers balked at a primary, calling it was a waste of time and resources. They said the convention yielded a clear winner and everyone should just line up and get behind Smith, who was apparently Chairman Proto's preferred candidate from the get-go.

    But not so fast, said the MAGA contingent which pointed out Corey earned a primary and they wanted to see that primary challenge play out to ensure the will of the people had truly been heard.

    The RINOs, now synonymous with Smith's campaign, asserted that the will of the people had been heard because a majority of RTC members at the convention voted for Smith.

    The MAGA faction called bullshit since many MAGA-aligned Republicans have been blocked from joining or have been pushed out of their RTCs, so their voices were not likely heard or represented fully at the convention. They welcomed a primary that would truly represent the will of the people.

    When asked about a primary by the Hartford Courant, Chairman Proto said Matt could do whatever he wanted, but added that "the overwhelming support here shows that he doesn’t have the support of the party" before going on to downplay Corey's 2018 effort to unseat Murphy.

    Proto also knocked Corey on fundraising, saying "he really hasn't raised anything" which might have something to do with the late timing of his decision to run, just weeks before the convention.

    Smith closed out the night with very brief remarks, disappointed about the looming primary which he said would delay his fight against Murphy until August.

    By contrast, Corey views this primary as an opportunity to demonstrate he's the right guy, and has been persistently going after Murphy on social media.

    Screenshot, X

    The news about the convention, especially about the RINO faction trying to remove Levy as Committeewoman, spread quickly, not just in Connecticut but also in Washington, D.C.

    This prompted Senator Tom Cotton, who endorsed Donald Trump for President, to officially endorse Levy for RNC National Committeewoman. (See video below.) Levy also endorsed Trump for President.

    A number of Republicans described the RINO plan to remove Levy as "an act of vengeance for Leora winning her primary against Themis Klarides in 2022".

    Trump's endorsement of Levy shortly before the 2022 primary clearly tipped the scales in her favor, and angered the RINOs at the same time.

    It is alleged by a number of party insiders that Proto, Klarides, Stravato and others have been orchestrating the "establishment" plan to remove Levy pretty much ever since that fateful primary.

    The vote for RNC National Committeewoman takes place on May 28th.

    Themis Klarides, Gerry Smith and Annalisa Stravato.
    Screenshot, X.

    Perhaps the more interesting question, though, is whether Proto should continue in his role as Chairman of the CT GOP, especially in light of allegations that he puts his finger on the scales to favor establishment candidates over candidates perceived to be fond of Donald Trump.

    To be clear, MAGA is here to stay, whether the establishment likes it or not.

    The MAGA contingent is frustrated at watching Republicans lose what little ground they have in CT, where Republican representation is zero at the federal level, and has been declining in the state house and senate, as well as in municipalities. MAGA is also sick and tired of watching establishment Republicans voting like Democrats. They are equally upset that the CT GOP leadership makes zero attempts at unifying the party, even though Donald Trump believes unity is possible.

    If the two factions continue under current leadership and with the current level of animosity, can the GOP ever again be relevant in Connecticut?

    The next election for CT GOP Chairman takes place in June 2025.

    Will Chairman Proto run again? Will he draw challengers?

    We don't know, but we will certainly be watching.

    Screenshot, X.
    Senator Cotton endorsement of Leora Levy for RNC National Committeewoman

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    Just sayin’

    Annalisa Stravato… she’s just Proto’s type, isn’t she?

    Players Gonna Play

    I can't get that image out of my head.

    At least Leora would never "do" something like that to get the job.

    Paul A

    If we are serious about taking back our state from communist democrat BS! Absolutely, go along to get along is the failing plan of the Republican Party. Time for fighters who will legislate for the people not politicians just satisfied with being elected. We are now on the verge of becoming the east coast California wasteland of government handouts. Open your eyes. This is America. Let’s keep it that way.

    Joe Bentivegna

    This article oversimplifies the issues. There is a conflict between MAGA and non-Maga Republicans but much of this turmoil is due to personality clashes that are the result of the antiquated Convention system. Unlike most states, where candidates must simply get several thousand signatures to get on the ballot, prospective candidates in Connecticut waste endless hours talking to Party insiders in order obtain ballot access.

    MAGA 4Eva

    The article absolutely perfectly captures the MAGA sentiment. MAGA isn't going away. Sure the convention system is a mess and should maybe even be abandoned. But it doesn't change the fact that there's a big MAGA / RINO battle brewing and we have too many dem-lites in the party. We need leaders who will stand on and represent our principles!


    Doesn't matter if its those losers or a new set of losers, they'll continue to lose.

    johnny flynn

    Just filed suit. Through a Motion for leave to add 4 defendants. Serving subpoenas. Proto violated his Charter by backing Gerry even financially sabotaged through slander of other candidates. The delates were told not to sign any other candidates forms without Proto's permission. Proto arranged with 40 chairs of the GOP towns to sabotage any effort to gain delegates. Proto denied the delegate lists to me 10 times and gave me a list of surrogates, (no phone numbers and no emails). 22cv01065

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