On Monday evening, the Yale College Democrats gathered in the Davenport common room to hear U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 and State Comptroller Kevin Lembo discuss the upcoming Connecticut and national elections.
Blumenthal spoke about the obstacles U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy faces in his bid for Connecticut’s open Senate seat and how the race will impact Democrats’ chances of retaining a majority in the Senate. Lembo discussed the presidential race, accusing Republican nominee Mitt Romney of dividing the electorate by adopting extreme right-wing positions.
“Chris Murphy is absolutely essential to the Democratic majority [in the Senate],” Blumenthal said. “Losing would be catastrophic,” he said, especially because of the Senate’s power to veto nominations for the Supreme Court.
Blumenthal explained his decision to endorse Murphy, citing the candidate’s commitment to “individual people” and his ability to work with legislators across partisan lines. Blumenthal said that both he and Murphy are “on the side of anyone who wants to work hard,” while McMahon has made a living “by running over people.”
Even with the Democratic majority hanging in the balance, Blumenthal spoke extensively about the importance of bipartisanship and cultivating personal relationships with other senators, regardless of their party affiliation.
The election is far from decided. Recent polls are showing that McMahon has bounced back from her 2010 defeat in her run for the Senate and is currently neck and neck with Murphy.
Blumenthal pointed out that, even in a traditionally blue state like Connecticut, Murphy has a tough job competing with the “$50 million” McMahon has poured into her campaign from her personal fortune, adding that running against a candidate with so much funding can be disheartening. He would know — he defeated McMahon in a bitterly contested race in 2010 for the Senate seat vacated by Chris Dodd.
Lembo began his half of the discussion by waving his arm to divide the room and instructing “47 percent of you” to “sit on this side so I could just talk to the rest of you,” referring to comments that Romney made last week in which he characterized that proportion of the American population as “dependent” on government-funded social services. He drew a parallel between the ease with which Romney and McMahon are influenced by extremism within the Republican party.
“Mitt Romney is being emptied and filled with other people’s ideas [and] he needs to find his moral compass,” he said, adding that McMahon has also adopted polarizing views.
Though he recognized that politicians tend to exaggerate the importance of individual elections, Lembo said that this year’s presidential race is actually “the most important election of our lifetime.”
Zak Newman ’13, president of the Dems, said he chose these two speakers because Blumenthal has the authority to talk about the importance of electing Murphy to the Senate in advancing President Barack Obama’s agenda. Lembo, Newman said, is a knowledgeable and skilled speaker, and is particulary adept at speaking to students.