Sen. Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73, D-Conn., is up for re-election for the first time, running against three-time State Rep. Dan Carter (R-2nd) in the Connecticut Senate election.
Though polling booths will be open until 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Blumenthal already has the race nearly locked up. Recent polls have the incumbent senator up by a large margin: FiveThirtyEight gave Blumenthal a 99.6 percent chance of winning and the most recent Emerson and Quinnipiac polls have the senior senator with a comfortable lead of 20-plus points. A second term would allow Blumenthal to build on the focus points of his first Senate term, which include consumer protection laws, tighter gun control guidelines as well as antitrust proposals.
“In my own elections, I always work like I am 10 points behind,” Blumenthal told the News. “I never take anything for granted.”
On Oct. 24, Blumenthal went head-to-head with Carter in their first and only debate prior to the election. During the debate, Blumenthal focused on Carter’s refusal to vote for a 2013 legislative package that would establish stricter gun control laws after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, per reports in the Connecticut Post.
Carter fired back, criticizing the current Affordable Care Act, which Blumenthal supports. The Republican nominee argued that Obamacare has been ineffective since its roll-out six years ago and that it has only raised deductibles for families and small businesses. Blumenthal agreed that the act needs modification in order to better serve the country.
Emmy Reinwald ’17, who worked for Carter’s campaign in Waterbury this summer, said she believes Carter is “not afraid to be bipartisan” and that he prioritizes the needs of Connecticut voters over that of his own party. She also said he has stood up for the Second Amendment while in office by ensuring the state legislature does not overstep its bounds in the area. In 2013, Carter voted against a bill prohibiting the sale of long guns to customers under 18 years of age and specific types of ammo to customers under 21, according to legislative state records.
“He’s a common sense kind of guy and not a political insider like Blumenthal,” Reinwald said.
Yale Democrats Elections Coordinator Michelle Peng ’19 said the Dems are not working directly on Blumenthal’s campaign, as they are focusing on more competitive races. But, she added, the group fully endorses him and “can’t wait to see the great work [Blumenthal] does in the future.”
Blumenthal said the top priorities in his political career include consumer protection, equal pay for women, comprehensive immigration reform and health care for veterans.
On the topic of immigration, Blumenthal said he supports family reunification and measures that would bring illegal workers living in the U.S. “out of the shadows.” According to his campaign, Blumenthal supported executive action earlier this year to defer deportations of parents of American citizens. He told the News he worked on a bill to provide a path to citizenship for 11 million people that passed the Senate but was ultimately never brought to a vote in the House. If he were re-elected, Blumenthal said he hoped to revive the bill.
“We are a nation of immigrants who should celebrate our diversity and the talent and energy that immigrants bring to this country,” Blumenthal said. In fact, Blumenthal told the News that his own father came to the U.S. from Germany in 1935 to escape persecution in .
Prior to being sworn in as senator in 2011, Blumenthal served five terms as Connecticut’s attorney general from 1991 to 2011. He graduated from Yale Law School alongside Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton LAW ’73. Although he told the News he supports Clinton in the presidential election, he declined to share personal anecdotes of his time in school with her or her husband, former President Bill Clinton LAW ’73.
During his time in New Haven, the senator served as editor in chief of the Yale Law Journal. Since graduating, he has visited Yale frequently, given that two of his four children attended Yale — one graduated from the Law School in 2016 and one graduated from Yale College in 2014.
Aaron Troncoso ’18, who was in the a cappella group Mixed Company with Blumenthal’s son David, said he remembers seeing Blumenthal at one of his performances.
Besides visiting Yale, Blumenthal said he has been working on national education policy to create more paths for students to graduate debt-free from college. His initiatives include advocating for an increase in Pell grants and for programs that would allow students to work off debt through public service.
Nicholas Girard ’19, a Connecticut citizen and executive board member of the Yale College Democrats, cited Blumenthal’s determination to help students as one of the many reasons he is voting for the incumbent senator.
“Though he’s fairly far away from his days as a college student, [Blumenthal] has led the fight with senators like Chris Murphy and Elizabeth Warren to make college affordable and end crippling student loan debt,” Girard said. “This is certainly an issue I care about as a college student. I haven’t seen this issue be addressed by Carter, at least not in specifics.”
Girard added that during Blumenthal’s time in office, the senator has stood up to the tobacco industry, advocated for mental health care resources for veterans and worked to protect online privacy. He said he feels confident the senator will win re-election “by big margins.”
John Lugo of the New Haven activist group Unidad Latina en Acción said though Blumenthal has advocated in immigrant rights cases in the past, he would like to see the senator use his Washington position to take a stronger stand against Immigration and Customs Enforcement detentions. He cited the 2013 detention of Jose Islas as one instance in which the senator intervened on behalf of a New Haven resident who was arrested by ICE.
Blumenthal was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1946.