Merrick Alpert, 43, has worn many hats throughout his life: activist, entrepreneur and army officer, to name a few. He worked on Al Gore’s campaign staff, ran a medical software firm and served as a U.S. Peacekeeper in a war-torn region of Bosnia. Now he is determined to add another achievement to his list: Democratic senator for Connecticut.
At a book signing and discussion event held Monday evening at the Barnes & Noble Yale Bookstore, Alpert talked about his recently published memoir, “Morning Sun: A Story of Hope, Purpose and the Power of Family,” and his ongoing campaign for the U.S. Senate.
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The event was part of what Alpert’s Communications Director, Lev St. King, called a “169-town tour” of Connecticut, which began in May, and during which Alpert has shared both his personal past and political platform with local community members across the state.
“Every day is different —we’re trying to travel the four corners of Connecticut,” St. King said. “A candidate should connect with the people and manifest their concerns.”
Before reading a handful of selected passages from his book Monday, Alpert said in an interview that his campaign runs on a grassroots platform based on three principles: private-sector job creation, clear government and halting U.S. military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, the majority of his talk focused on his memoir, published this month, in which he recounts how he grew up without a father figure. Using the passages from his book as a guide, Alpert shared with the audience pivotal moments from his own life that ranged from his enlistment in the army to the birth of his firstborn child.
As Alpert, who has never run for public office before, continues to campaign for the Democratic Senate nomination, his competition is incumbent Sen. Christopher Dodd, the longest-serving senator in Connecticut’s history.
“I guarantee you if Dodd is our nominee, [the Democratic party] will lose,” Alpert said. “The people of Connecticut have lost their faith, and they need someone who they’ll be comfortable with.”
Alpert said his experience in the private sector qualifies him to facilitate job creation and will allow him to focus on Connecticut’s overall needs.
Attorney Daniel Algilani, who was one of the 11 audience members in attendance yesterday evening, said he could not wait to read Alpert’s book and added that he is confident Alpert will beat Dodd in the primaries.
“Dodd just fell asleep in the wheel,” Algilani said. “I think [Alpert’s] going to be next Senator of Connecticut.”
Alpert added that he believes Dodd is not transparent enough in his actions and is too interested in preserving his current position.
But, Ben Stango ’11, the founder and president of Connecticut Students for Dodd and Yale for Dodd, said in a phone interview following the event that Alpert does not have enough experience crafting policy in order to work in the Senate.
“He is threatening Democrats’ chances to hold on to our seat,” Stango said. Stango added that Dodd has proven he is a true statesman by bringing stimulus money into Connecticut.
There were others in attendance Monday, such as Edward Anderson GRD ’91, that said they were not convinced about the viability of Alpert’s campaign and his chances of success.
“He is a really nice candidate, but I don’t think now is his time,” Anderson said of Alpert. Anderson also said more polling needs to be done and discussions had in order to better assess Alpert’s possibilities.
Alpert will return to Yale’s campus Oct. 28 to talk to students from the Law School. Connecticut Congressional Democratic primaries will be held on Aug. 10, 2010.