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DeLauro Defends Italian Heritage in Election Debate

Rosa Delauro
Manuel Balce Ceneta
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro represents New Haven, Conn.

Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro defended her loyalty to her Italian heritage on Thursday during a televised debate with her Republican and Green Party challengers for the 3rd Congressional District.

DeLauro, a fifteen term incumbent, is a native of the Wooster Square neighborhood of New Haven. Her Republican challenger Margaret Striecker is a Milford real estate executive who has been endorsed by New Haven’s Italian-American Heritage Society.

Sriecker accused DeLauro of not standing up for heritage when the city removed the Christopher Columbus statue from Wooster Square following Black Lives Matter protests in June.

“Only, you know, totalitarian regimes like the KKK, or Nazis or Stalin or what’s happening in the Middle East should be tearing down and erasing our history," Striecker said.

That prompted this response from DeLauro: “You have no idea, nor are you competent to discuss my roots, my community and my feelings with regards to that community.”

DeLauro is a member of a panel setup by the city to find a replacement for the statue. Green Party challenger Justin Paglino, a physician and a musician, who’s also Italian American, offered suggestions.

“I don’t think Columbus is the best figure to choose to celebrate Italian pride. I mean we’ve got Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra and a lot of people that are heroes of mine,” Paglino said. 

The candidates also clashed over the Affordable Care Act, which was condemned by Striecker. DeLauro defended the ACA and said she would allow businesses to buy into it -- while Paglino says he supports Medicare for all.