During the next four years, the city's Republican Party will work to rebuild itself and streamline its message, which has become "a broad stroke," Town Chairman Michael T. McGarry said.
For the first time since 1991, no Republicans were elected to the city council this year. Instead, Working Families Party candidates won the three minority seats on the council.
"We're looking to be more traditional conservatives, coming up with sensible, conservative solutions to very difficult problems," McGarry said. "I'm not sure we've fulfilled that role lately as well as we should have."
McGarry said the loss was due in part to the party's "broad" message, which included supporting several Democrats in the election. It was also due to a lack of resources, he said.
"We should have a more traditionally conservative message," McGarry said. "Our broad stroke really didn't get us anywhere."
Republicans nominated five Democrats: Mayor Pedro Segarra, city Treasurer Adam Cloud and council candidates Kenneth Kennedy, Alexander Aponte and Kyle Anderson. Everyone but Segarra rejected the cross-nomination, saying Democratic Party bylaws don't allow them to accept that kind of support from another political party.
McGarry said he's looking to expand the city's Republican Town Committee, which currently has 21 members, to include more than 30 people. He said he's working to change the party's bylaws to accommodate the larger committee.
"We want to involve more people," he said. "We'll have a larger pool to work from [in the next election]."
Councilman Corey Brinson, a Republican, said the loss was attributable to waning interest in the party. Brinson was one of three Republican candidates who ran unsuccessfully for council this year.
"The Republican Party is dying in Hartford," he said. "There are less Republicans; there's less Republican participation. Being a Republican in Hartford is becoming akin to being an Independent because there's very little party support. I just don't think there are enough people who care about the Republican message here."
The party needs to rebuild itself "from the ground up," with more money and volunteer support, Brinson said. It also needs to promote itself differently, he said.
"We need to re-brand what it means to be an urban Republican," Brinson said. "I think it's difficult because the national Republican Party kind of dictates our branding locally. We fall under this one big tent."
Councilman Kenneth Kennedy, a Democrat who was re-elected this week, said it's not unusual for minority party representation to change on the council.
Republicans were wiped off the council in 1991 by candidates from the People For Change Party, but won the three minority seats back in 1993.
"It's not that unusual," Kennedy said of the change. "You go through political cycles; you're going to have different minority parties. The one constant has been the Democratic Party."
—Senior Information Specialist Tina Bachetti contributed to this story.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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