In GOP fight to take on Blumenthal, Klarides raises the most; Levy lends herself more

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Themis Klarides raised more money in the first three months of 2022 than any other Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Connecticut, while rivals Leora Levy and Peter Lumaj relied more on personal loans than contributions.

Campaign reports filed Friday showed Klarides raised $425,431 in the first quarter, compared to $294,930 for Levy and $158,058 for Lumaj. No other Republicans have reported significant fundraising in the race.

They are vying for the GOP nomination and a chance to oppose well-funded two-term Democratic incumbent Sen. Richard Blumenthal. His campaign raised an additional $706,858 and ended the quarter with $8.1 million.

Levy, a Republican National Committee member and longtime GOP fundraiser, ended the quarter with nearly $1 million in her campaign account, mostly due to a $750,000 loan from the candidate.

Lumaj had $459,817 in cash, more than half of which came from a $250,000 loan he made to his campaign on March 30, the penultimate day of the deposit period. A candidate since November 24, he has now raised $269,533.

Klarides, a former Republican State House leader who did not seek re-election in 2020 after 22 years as a state legislator, ended the quarter with $447,701 in cash. She loaned his campaign $40,000.

By investing significant personal funds in their campaigns, Levy and Lumaj appear to underscore their intention to stay in the race after the Republican nominating convention in May, where Klarides is favored to win endorsement.

To qualify for a primary in August, one must win 15% of the convention vote or seek access. The only statewide Republican primaries are expected to be for the US Senate and Secretary of State.

While Klarides showed more financial support from former and current elected officials, Levy and Lumaj demonstrated financial support from presumptive GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Stefanowski.

Stefanowski, who was also the 2018 gubernatorial nominee, paid Levy $2,000 and Lumaj $3,001. Winner of a five-a-side primary four years ago, Stefanowski has only token competition for the nomination this year.

Two-time Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon, losing races to Blumenthal in 2010 and to Chris Murphy in 2012, donated $5,800 to Levy’s campaign and $5,000 to the Connecticut Patriots, the super PAC backing Levy.

In addition to both living in Greenwich, McMahon and Levy have a connection to the Trump administration. McMahon headed the Small Business Administration and Levy was appointed United States Ambassador to Chile.

Thomas Foley, the party’s gubernatorial nominee in 2010 and 2014, gave Klarides’ campaign $5,800, the maximum allowed in the primary in August.

Donors can donate a maximum of $2,900 to each phase of a federal campaign: convention, primaries and general elections. Klarides’ husband, Greg Butler, donated $8,600 – essentially betting she would make it to the November ballot.

Two former state GOP chairs, Chris Healy and Herb Shepardson, gave Klarides’ campaign $1,505 and $500, respectively. Robert Poliner, another past president, gave Levy $250.

Klarides’ predecessor and successor as House Republican leader, Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. and Vincent Candelora, donated $500 and $255. Rep. Tim Ackert, R-Coventry, who unsuccessfully challenged her for chief in 2016, contributed $505.

J. David Kelsey of Old Lyme covered all the bets: he gave $2,000 to Lumaj, $2,005 to Klarides, $5,800 to Levy and $15,000 to the Connecticut Patriots, the super PAC backing Levy. The new PAC raised $25,000.

Home races: Hayes edges Logan, 3-1

In what is expected to be Connecticut’s most competitive congressional race, U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-5th District, has lifted Republican challenger George Logan more than three times in the first three months of 2022.

Hayes raised $303,855 to Logan’s $90,389. His campaign ended the quarter with nearly $1.6 million in the bank, compared to Logan’s $214,477.

Hayes, a former National Teacher of the Year who had never held elected office, won the open seat in 2018. Logan is a former state senator.

No Republican has won a congressional race in Connecticut since 2006. But the 5th and 2nd are districts that Republican candidates statewide have carried in other contests, providing the GOP with a measure of ‘hope.

U.S. Representative Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, had an equally large advantage over Republican Mike France in his fundraising, raising $308,836 to France’s $109,774. Courtney ended the quarter with $1.2 million in the bank, compared to France’s $116,832.

France is a Republican state legislator from Ledyard.

The 1st, 3rd, and 4th Districts are solidly Democratic, and the two Republicans who recently opened campaigns in the 3rd and 4th Districts have had mixed fundraising results.

Jayme Stevenson, Darien’s former first draft pick, raised $137,711 and loaned her campaign $25,000 for her challenge from U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District. Himes raised $272,269 and had $2 million in his campaign account.

Fairfield County’s 4th District was the last to be held by a Republican, but has turned Democratic since Himes ousted Republican Chris Shays, the latest in a string of moderate Republicans to hold the seat.

In the New Haven-centric 3rd District, political scientist Lesley DeNardis got a hard lesson in what it’s like to fundraise for a challenge from U.S. Representative Rosa L. DeLauro, a Democrat who is the dean of the delegation. and Chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

DeNardis, a Republican who recently retired as a professor at Sacred Heart University, raised $21,217 to DeLauro’s $211,494 for the quarter. DeLauro’s campaign has $1.35 million in the bank.

DeNardis’ father, Larry DeNardis, was the last Republican to hold the seat. An educator and former state senator, he served a single term after winning an open race in 1980, aided by Ronald Reagan’s tailcoats.

In Greater Hartford’s 1st District, U.S. Representative John B. Larson, a Democrat, raised $227,318 and had $876,618 in the bank. The only opponent to raise significant funds for a challenge is a fellow Democrat, a young newcomer named Muad Hrezi.

Hrezi, a former US Senate staffer running to Larson’s left, raised $170,041 in the quarter and had $192,203 in the bank. He is the first candidate to challenge the congressman for the nomination since Larson won a primary for the open seat in 1998.

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