Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a longtime staple in Connecticut politics, is seeking a third term against GOP nominee Leora Levy in a race where Republicans are behind in fundraising and polling.
The race captured national attention when former President Donald Trump swept in with a last-minute endorsement of Levy in the state’s August primary. Levy has never sought elected office before, but she is not new to politics as a committeewoman on the Republican National Committee and a fundraiser for GOP candidates.
After the primary, Levy has struggled to maintain the same presence on the airwaves. Her fundraising improved a bit over the past three months with Levy pulling in slightly more individual contributions than her opponent. A super PAC supporting her — Connecticut Patriots PAC — is still raising money and recently went up with an ad. But she has still been heavily outspent by Blumenthal, who has millions of dollars left in the final weeks of the race.
To help her catch up, Trump will hold a fundraiser for Levy from Mar-a-Lago this week, though he does not have any scheduled appearances in Connecticut. Since the primary, Levy has downplayed her connection to Trump, arguing that he is “not on the ballot” and that she instead sees the election as a referendum on President Joe Biden’s agenda.
Most polling has shown Blumenthal with a double-digit lead. But a recent poll from the CT Examiner that was conducted by a firm with Republican and corporate clients found Blumenthal leading by a much smaller margin over Levy.
Blumenthal’s lead is largely powered by female voters. Abortion rights have become a prominent theme in the midterm elections after the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, which established constitutional protections to abortion for nearly 50 years.
Blumenthal supports abortion rights and wants to codify those protections into federal law — as Connecticut has already done at the state level — while Levy opposes abortion except in cases of rape and incest or when the life of a pregnant person is endangered.
The race is an uphill fight for Republicans, since the party has not won a Senate race in Connecticut since 1982 with the reelection of Lowell Weicker. In 2020, Biden won the state by 20 percentage points over Trump. Election forecasting site FiveThirtyEight rates the race as “very likely” for Blumenthal to win. But RealClearPolitics made a ratings change over the weekend in favor of the GOP to “Leans Dem.”
Blumenthal, who has served in elected office since 1984, easily won his past two Senate races, even after his past opponent spent tens of millions of dollars of her own money against him. Before coming to Washington in 2011, he served as Connecticut’s attorney general for 20 years.
As an incumbent, Blumenthal is focusing on his record and rarely engages with Levy. He is specifically touting major pieces of legislation that his party has passed over the past two years, including the federal pandemic relief package — the American Rescue Plan — and the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes provisions related to health care, tax policy and climate change.
But Levy and Republicans argue that the trillions of dollars in federal spending have contributed to inflation.
Labeling Blumenthal a “career politician,” Levy has sought to contrast herself as an “outsider.” Before her involvement in politics, Levy worked as a commodities trader. Her family, who is Jewish, fled Cuba in the 1960s during the Castro regime.
Levy is criticizing Democrats for their handling of the economy as well as for elevated gas prices. While other Republicans in Connecticut have only lightly touched on the issue, Levy has been much more vocal about condemning how schools teach students about race and sexuality.
Blumenthal and Levy will face off on Nov. 8 as both parties vie for control of the divided 50-50 Senate.
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.