GOP's Lerman Challenging Ritter For 1st House District Seat
By JENNA CARLESSO
October 09, 2012
HARTFORD —— It's been a tough year for city Republicans, who last winter lost their only seat on the city council to the Working Families Party, and had struggled in the spring to fill seats on the town committee.
But the party has been working steadily to rebuild itself, and has offered up four Republicans to run for state House seats this fall.
One of those Republicans is Kenneth Lerman, who will face off against Democratic state Rep. Matthew Ritter for the 1st House District seat. This is the second time Lerman has challenged Ritter for the seat; they first competed in 2010, shortly after Ritter narrowly beat entrenched incumbent Kenneth Green in the primary election. Ritter went on to beat Lerman by a wide margin in the general election.
Although Lerman, who is serving his second term on the Republican Town Committee, hasn't raised much money or knocked on doors, he said he is running in part to help raise the party's profile. In Hartford, Democrats outnumber Republicans by a roughly 18-to-1 ratio.
"If we were not running someone in Hartford for an important seat like state representative, we're not building the party back up," Lerman, 51, said. "It's a daunting task to try to beat someone with the registered voter numbers that exist here. I tip my hat to the other Republican candidates who are running.
"We're trying. I'm trying to help the Republican voice in this state."
Lerman, a city-based corporate attorney, said he also is running to give the voters another choice.
"I think it's important to have two voices for the electorate to consider," he said. "If I was not running, [Ritter] would probably be running unopposed."
In addition to Lerman, city Republicans Rico Dence, Michael Lupo and Colleen Rankine will compete in the 4th, 6th and 7th House District races, respectively.
Despite what he described as two successful years at the state Capitol, Ritter, 30, said he's taking nothing for granted as he heads into November.
He said he's running a similar campaign to the one he ran in 2010 — a "positive" effort that includes knocking on doors and making phone calls to connect with constituents.
"I still believe people would rather hear about what you're going to do than bad things about your opponent," said Ritter, an attorney for the Hartford-based Shipman & Goodwin law firm. "You telling your story and what you're doing is better than tearing someone else down. I'm not going to waste my energy and time running a campaign like that."
Ritter said he was most proud of his efforts in co-sponsoring a bill that kept the city's assessment rate for homeowners at about 30 percent of market value — preventing residents' property tax bills from doubling — and of voting to repeal the state's death penalty.
In the future, he said, he would like to see the state's minimum wage increase and for legislators to re-examine the state's property tax system.
"We really have to figure out a way to make our system fairer and more equitable," Ritter said. "It's very outdated, funding education through property taxes."
Lerman's message was similar to his 2010 pledge: cut taxes and reduce government spending.
"I think right now there's a need for across-the-board cuts," Lerman said. "We are spending so much as a government. I think I would be in a position to work on that more than a Democrat might. There's a greater push from the Democratic party not to cut government as greatly as the Republican platform."
Election Day is Nov. 6. For more information about the candidates, visit http://www.housedems.ct.gov/RitterM and http://kenlerman2012.com.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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