7 days of the election in Storrs: The Republicans rally

Republican candidate for governor Bob Stefanowski speaks at a Gubernatorial debate at the University of Connecticut on Sept. 17, 2018. (Eric Wang/ The Daily Campus)

It was a cold Monday evening and the streets winding in and out of Storrs Center were quiet and empty, except for the business occupying 33 Wilbur Cross Way. The University of Connecticut College Republicans, volunteers and Republican Party supporters filed into Grill 86 for one last call-to-action before the looming election. One last rally before casting their ballots to determine the future of Connecticut. The atmosphere inside the bar was dark, but the mood was light, as optimistic smiles and congratulatory handshakes were exchanged between party supporters. This wasn’t just a rally; this was a victory lap.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to take both the governor’s mansion and the general assembly,” Tim Sullivan, vice chairman of the Connecticut Federation of College Republicans, said. “I think we have a real opportunity to pick up seats in the state senate and state house. I think Bob and the other statewide officer candidates have a good chance to sweep the whole slate.”

Prior to the start of the event, all eyes were focused on Max Turgeon, sophomore at UConn and vice president of the campus’ College Republicans. Turgeon was responsible for orchestrating the evening’s rally in an attempt to motivate potential supporters to the polls Nov. 6.

“I think especially in Connecticut, it’s the economy,” Turgeon said. “It’s taxes, it’s regulation. Connecticut is one of the highest taxed states in the country. We’ve lost a lot of companies and a lot of the workforce.”

Turgeon said corporations like Aetna and General Electric have left the state due to increasingly heavy tax burdens and regulations and he is concerned about the current trajectory of Connecticut’s fiscal future.

“That’s a big problem, because we have to have a skilled workforce,” Turgeon said. “It’s what we’ve been good at, but I’m afraid for the future if we keep taxing and regulating businesses, there are not going to be any jobs available.”

Sullivan said Election Day results will reflect the “talented and knowledgeable” leadership featured on the Republican ticket.

“I think they have a good grasp on the economic issues,” Sullivan said. “All the way down the ballot, the whole message is cutting taxes. People are moving out, we’re getting less revenue from higher taxes and we need a change. I think that will be the overriding message. Connecticut has faced a lost decade and needs to experience growth in order to survive.”

In an effort to secure victory at the polls, Sullivan and Turgeon, along with fellow College Republicans and state volunteers, said they are working diligently to mobilize young voters. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, www.census.gov, only 50 percent of citizens between the ages of 18 and 29 voted nationwide in 2016 Presidential election.

“We’re doing a lot,” Turgeon said. “We are getting people registered to vote, which is very important. After that, we are telling them what the Republican Party is all about.”

Turgeon said his primary goal is to convey the Republican Party’s message and value system to potential supporters without the distortion that currently pervades political discussion.

“In the media, it’s hard,” Turgeon said. “Because other people try to define us, so we have to get to them first and say ‘this is what we believe.’ A lot of times, when you break it down, people tend to agree with Republican values. I think they get a bad rap sometimes in the media.”

The current breakdown in civil discourse has also caused concern and frustration for college Republicans and supporters, Turgeon said. He added he would like civility to return to the realm of politics sooner rather than later.

“I just hate how it always comes down to name calling,” Turgeon said. “We get called racists and sexists and it really bothers me, because it’s untrue. Everyone should have the chance to prosper without the government holding them back. Everyone should have the opportunity to succeed.”

Sullivan said he wants to see current and potential Republican party supporters at the polls on Election Day.

“Listen, Connecticut is so easy,” Sullivan said. “You can register at the polls and vote the same day. If you’re registered, grab 10 people and bring them with you to the polls. You have to start thinking about the future, especially if you’re a young person. What is your job security going to look like? Where’s the opportunity?”


George J Penny III is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached by email at george.penney_iii@uconn.edu.