Blumenthal wins 3rd Senate term, fends off Trump-backed Levy

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal on Tuesday won a third term in office, fending off a challenge from first-time candidate Leora Levy, a Republican who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

Blumenthal, the state’s former attorney general, focused much of his campaign on being a backstop for abortion rights in Connecticut and Democratic policies in Washington. Blumenthal vowed to fight any effort in Congress to impose a national abortion ban that would override Connecticut’s current law. Abortion is legal in Connecticut with restrictions.

In a victory speech in Hartford, Blumenthal promised to reach across the aisle and work with Republicans on issues such as fighting inflation, cutting taxes and protecting Social Security and Medicare.

He said the nation needs to find its way back to “the common ground that brings us together,” but said it is also facing a dangerous time because of divisions and threats of violent extremism. He alluded to political clashes ahead.

“When the fight comes, I will be there for you. And the fight will be coming. It will be more difficult now than before. But we need to stand together. And I will stand with you to fight for the people of Connecticut,” Blumenthal said.

In the Republican primary, Levy defeated the party’s endorsed candidate, former state House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, a social moderate. Levy received a late endorsement in that race from former President Donald Trump, who also held a fundraiser for Levy at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

Levy had hoped to become the first Republican U.S. senator from Connecticut since Lowell P. Weicker Jr., who served from 1971 to 1989.

Appearing with her family on Tuesday night, Levy told her supporters that even though she lost the race, she will not stop fighting for them.

“I will not stop fighting for our state, for our freedom, and for our great country. I feel the weight and the responsibility of the hopes and dreams of so many here in Connecticut who yearn for change,” she said.

Levy tried to make the race more about President Joe Biden than Trump, working to capitalize on voters’ concerns about inflation and financial struggles.

She also took a socially conservative tack that hadn’t been seen much in Connecticut statewide elections, opposing abortion rights except in certain situations and taking a stand against various gun control measures. Levy has also made parents’ rights a major campaign issue, calling for the end of “indoctrination and discrimination” in Connecticut schools after a Greenwich assistant principal was apparently secretly recorded saying he’d prefer not to hire politically conservative staff, including Roman Catholics.

Some moderate Republicans predicted that Blumenthal, 76, would sail to victory after Levy won her party’s primary in August. Party leaders had originally hoped Klarides, who supports abortion rights, would be a strong contender, especially after Blumenthal registered his lowest job approval rating since taking office in 2011 in a Quinnipiac poll conducted in May.

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