By John McNamara
BERLIN – State Rep. Donna Veach (R-30), a first-term Republican state representative representing Berlin and Southington, is calling Democrats “pro-criminal” on a campaign billboard.
Rep. Veach, however, received a rebuke from constituents at a candidate forum held at the Berlin Senior Center last week when she again attacked Democrats and, by implication, her Democratic opponent, Denise McNair, the former town manager, for being “pro-criminal.”
“Why are you calling Democrats pro-criminal on your billboard? It’s divisive and it’s an insult,” asked a senior center attendee. Veach at first responded by doubling down on her rhetoric as the crowd objected to her name calling. Only then did Veach apologize for the “bad phrasing” as the billboard at issue remains prominently on display in town.
State Senator Rick Lopes (D-6), representing Berlin, New Britain and a portion of Farmington, also attended the forum and said Veach’s “rambling backpedaling was too little too late.”
“The question is how can Rep. Donna Veach represent a district when she disdains half her constituents? How can Democratic constituents — really anyone not a registered Republican — expect to be heard at all when she puts her name on billboards calling them “pro-criminal,” asked Lopes.
Said Lopes: “She embarrassed herself. Except for her, all the other candidates of both parties spoke about being inclusive and stopping negativity that is disliked by the voters. She chose to go hyper-negative and attack everyone.”
Veach’s “hyper negativity” is really no different than the fear-mongering theme on crime being waged by many Republicans in CT, including Bob Stefanowski for Governor, Leora Levy for U.S. Senate and George Logan for Congress in the 5th Congressional District. The rhetoric may be more nuanced but these nominees rail about Democrats being too soft on criminals as they oppose common sense gun controls that many police chiefs and law enforcement organizations support to reduce gun violence. It’s also part of the GOP’s mantra to demonize Democrats with incendiary talk. Just last month Ronna McDaniel, the national Republican Party’s Chairperson and Donald Trump sycophant, made her way to New Britain to blast not one Democrat but all Democrats as favoring “greed, communism, and crazy. And that’s what they are for.”
Unfortunately Veach’s “Against Pro-Criminal Democrats” billboard is an old story for Republicans who offer little in the way of substantive policy or solutions to fight crime. Instilling fear and dividing constituents is their formula to win but not to govern.
It is encouraging to know that Senator Lopes called her out and the crowd over at Berlin’s Senior Center last week rejected the low road taken by Donna Veach.