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Original reporting by Mark Pazniokas and Lisa Hagen. Compiled by Gabby DeBenedictis.
Leora Levy is Connecticut’s Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. She has pitched herself as an “America first” candidate, aligning herself with former president Donald Trump — who endorsed her in the race on Aug. 4.
On Aug. 9, Levy won Connecticut’s Republican U.S. Senate primary race, making her the party’s nominee to take on Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Levy had a convincing victory, albeit in a primary that drew only one in five Republicans to the polls. Levy beat Klarides 51% to 40%. Lumaj trailed with 9%.
What is Leora Levy’s background?
Levy, 65, of Greenwich, was a commodities trader in her 20s, turning to philanthropy and eventually political fundraising after marriage and motherhood.
Her reward for being a prolific GOP rainmaker was a seat on the Republican National Committee in 2017 and a nomination by Trump as ambassador to Chile in 2019. The then Republican-controlled Senate never voted on her confirmation.
Where does she stand on major issues?
A supporter of abortion rights in 2012 and critic of Trump in 2016, Levy has since repudiated both positions. She now proclaims herself opposed to all abortions, except in cases where a pregnancy is a consequence of rape or endangers the life of the pregnant person.
She faults the media for asking questions about Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 insurrection and questions the legitimacy of the congressional investigation. She offers no assessment of the testimony from former Trump aides about his inaction during the assault on the U.S. Capitol.
Levy said she objected to a provision encouraging states to pass laws like one in Connecticut that authorizes the temporary seizure of firearms from owners deemed unfit. It should have required stronger due process provisions for gun owners, she said.
Levy, an immigrant, opposed giving permanent legal status to the 800,000 young adults living in legal limbo for a decade under DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
She said she would support arming teachers, if they are trained.
In her speech accepting the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, Levy said Blumenthal “has had a major role in creating every single problem and challenge our country is facing today.”
“He has been a rubber stamp for Joe Biden’s failed policies,” Levy said, ticking off inflation, rising gas prices and what she described as “general lawlessness in our state.”
During that speech, Levy reminded supporters of her opposition to job-related vaccine requirements, and abortion and transgender rights.
“There is a difference between boys and girls,” she said. “Boys do not belong in girls’ sports or in their locker rooms.”
What is her pitch to voters?
Levy told the CT Mirror her campaign and beliefs are informed by her experience as a Cuban whose family fled the Castro regime in April 1960.
She is running as a conservative on social and foreign-policy issues, a believer that China is responsible for COVID deaths in America and should pay reparations.
“I have had a passion to serve and to make sure the United States of America never becomes a communist country,” she said.
At Connecticut’s senate GOP primary debate on July 26, Levy said Republicans should vote for her because she is a “principled, common-sense conservative Republican.”
“The issues that are driving this election are the economy, the invasion at the border, the rise in crime, the indoctrination of our children with critical race theory,” she said.
On Aug. 4, Trump endorsed Levy in a phone call to an audience in Montville that included Levy’s two rivals, Themis Klarides and Peter Lumaj.
“I’m giving tonight my complete and total endorsement to Leora Levy, and she’s going to go out and win this primary,” Trump said, his voice coming from Levy’s phone, amplified over a P.A. system.
What is her campaign style?
In campaign ads, Levy ignored Lumaj and targeting Klarides.
An ad casts her, a longtime player in establishment Republican fundraising, as an outsider in the mold of Trump. It asserts, “After 22 years in office, Themis Klarides isn’t one of us.”
“Leora Levy will always fight for us because she’s the America first, conservative outlier Connecticut needs to take the fight to Biden, Blumenthal and the swamp,” the narrator says in Levy’s ad.
While she doesn’t mention Donald Trump by name, Levy indirectly referenced him by styling herself as an “America first” candidate — the phrase used by the former president.
Some of Levy’s campaign ads have focused on both inflation and migrants trying to cross the southern border — two issues that have been prominent in Republican campaigns.
What did her GOP opponents say about her during the primary?
Lumaj views Levy as a conservative poseur. He said she has suggested to him there is room in the race for only one of them.
Klarides largely ignored Levy (and Lumaj) and focused instead on Blumenthal.
But both candidates challenged Levy’s principles and consistency, noting she had been a supporter of abortion and an opponent of Trump before switching positions. They also pointed to contributions to Democrats: $1,000 to Sen. Chris Dodd in 1992 and a $100 donation jointly made with her husband to Blumenthal’s campaign for attorney general in 1998.
The Connecticut Mirror/Connecticut Public Radio federal policy reporter position is made possible, in part, by funding from the Robert and Margaret Patricelli Family Foundation and Engage CT.