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Gary Rose writes the book on the future of Connecticut GOP

Dr. Gary Rose, professor of politics and scholar-in-residence at Sacred Heart University, in Fairfield, Connecticut.
Dr. Gary Rose, professor of politics and scholar-in-residence at Sacred Heart University, in Fairfield, Connecticut.

On Tuesday, voters in Ohio rejected a ballot measure that could have sided with Republicans to restrict abortion rights.

That should concern Connecticut Republicans said Gary Rose, a professor of politics and scholar-in-residence at Sacred Heart University.

WSHU’s Ebong Udoma spoke with Gary Rose about his new book titled “Connecticut Republicans: Past, Present and Future.”

Rose said Republicans are a shrinking party in Connecticut unlike in Ohio where the party controls the state.

GR: What happened in Ohio is really quite stunning, in my opinion, because it is a Republican state, they do have that advantage. But yet on this key issue, they lost on their constitutional amendment issue. And so the question is why? And it could be because the Republicans in Ohio, and the Republicans in Connecticut, and the Republicans in some other states, too, might not be mirroring the views of voters on some hot button issues.

WSHU: Now, in Connecticut, you do also prescribe that they should reach out, there should be a concerted effort to reach out to communities that they've neglected in the past, could you talk a little bit about that?

GR: You know, the Republican Party, without a doubt, in Connecticut, and in many other states too, is a very white party. It's a party that appeals to male Caucasian voters primarily. And even though at one time, African Americans were a part of the Republican Party, as a result of the Civil War, and Abraham Lincoln, but now, persons of color are not really attracted to this party. I know that the Hispanic vote seems to be moving a little bit towards the Republican Party. But nevertheless, you know, the evidence is clear that it's still a very white party, and the white population I should add, is also shrinking in Connecticut.

Look, let's face it. I mean, if the Republicans can't make a very important dent in the urban communities in Connecticut, they're going to continue to lose elections. So I mean, common sense says, you can't just depend on rural and suburban voters. If you want to win statewide contests in Connecticut, you have to get voters who are in the urban areas, and you have to have proper messaging that gets them on board. And right now, we don't see much of that happening in Connecticut at all. And that's evident from election results.

WSHU: And talking about election results in the last go around. We had a very wealthy candidate running for governor in Connecticut. The Republican candidate was wealthy. The Democratic candidate was also wealthy. However, you say that the Republicans should not depend on wealthy, self-funding candidates. Why is that a problem?

GR: Well, you know, let's take a look at the last four gubernatorial contests. We had Tom Foley, nice fellow, I met him many times, very quality guy. Wealth, wealthy millionaires lost both races. Bob Stefanowski, I met him, also a wonderful man. And, you know, there's a lot to be said for these people that use their own money to wage a campaign. Yet at the same time, we do have the citizens election program here in Connecticut, you can get public funding, I mean, you've got to work a little bit to get it. But nevertheless, you shouldn't necessarily have to have, you know, multi-millionaire candidates as your gubernatorial candidate to win an election in Connecticut.

It's a small state also, and the media markets are pretty favorable in this state. So again, nothing against the individuals who carried the banner of the Republican Party. I think there's much to be said for those individuals. They were fine people. But it's a formula that's not working. And perhaps the party needs to start looking more towards accomplished office holders to run from the base, as opposed to further shrinking it.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.