Meehan offers range of skills in race for GOP congressional nod

January 31, 2020

Graduated from West Point, served in Afghanistan and has Ivy League master’s degrees in Business and International Relations

By Scott Benjamin

“Despite being the youngest candidate in the field, I have the most to offer.”

Ryan Meehan is young – just 37 years old – but not So Young.

In 1984, when the Republicans couldn’t find enough lawn signs for all the people in the Fifth Congressional District who wanted to give President Ronald Reagan a second term, the voters sent to the U.S. House a 27-year-old GOP state representative named John Rowland, who was always ready with a quip.

He went on to become the first Connecticut governor since the late 1700’s to be elected to three terms.

In 2006, the people of the Fifth District – which had become reconfigured and had grown from 26 to 41 municipalities over the intervening generation – chose a 33-year-old Democratic state senator named Chris Murphy after he knocked on doors from Newtown to Salisbury and posted videos on YouTube to prove it.

He became the second youngest U.S. senator in Connecticut history.

“I’m the only candidate with experience in the military,”

Meehan graduated with honors from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served for five years as brigade training officer in South Carolina and Italy, according to his Linked-In profile. He also served two tours in Afghanistan in the War on Terror, according to CT Hearst.

Meehan – who grew up in Bethlehem and recently moved from Greenwich to Litchfield – said he supports Republican President Donald Trump’s 2018 call for the other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to “contribute more” to the defense of the region.

He also said in a phone interview with that he supports increasing the American defense budget – which, according to Washington Post economics columnist Robert Samuelson, has declined from 52 percent of federal spending in 1960 to just 15 percent in 2018.

Meehan remarked that there are large costs associated with a modern day defense and it is “vitally important” that the United States stay “ahead of the game” on “technological advances, cyber security” and ground forces. He said he agreed with Samuelson that attractive pay and benefits are needed since America has an all-volunteer military.

Former Pentagon acquisitions chief Frank Kendell was quoted in New York University Finance Professor Thomas Philippon’s 2019 book, “The Great Reversal” (Belknap Press, 369 Pages), as saying in 2015, “One can foresee a future in which the department has at most two or three very large suppliers that we acquire from. . . The department would not consider that to be a positive development and the American public should not either.”

Meehan said, “Competition is better. It is better to have a variety” of defense contractors.

Connecticut is prime in those discussions as the federal government is expected to decide within months whether to approve the merger of United Technologies Corporation, which operates the Francis Pratt and Amos Whitney operations in East Hartford and other aerospace centers, with Raytheon Technologies, which is based in Massachusetts.

NPR has reported that the merged company would have annual revenue of $74 billion in sales, making it the second largest defense contractor, behind Boeing.

The Hartford Courant has reported that about 100 positions from the corporate headquarters in Farmington will be transferred to Waltham, Mass. Also, United Technologies plans to sell its Carrier air conditioner and Otis elevator divisions, both of which are in Farmington.

“The departure of United Technologies’ headquarters from Connecticut to Boston is yet another clear indication that [state] tax increases coupled with government payouts does not produce desirable outcomes,” said Meehan, apparently referring, in part, to the First Five Plus program of former Gov. Dannel Malloy (D-Essex), which provided incentives for large employers to remain in Connecticut.

{The only one with experience in}. . . “Business” . . .

Meehan has a master’s degree in Business Administration from the esteemed University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School – the same institution where Trump got his bachelor’s degree.

According to Meehan’s Linked-In profile, over the recent years he has worked, first, as an associate in oil trading for J.P. Morgan, and then over the last three years was the operations manager for Unison Energy in Greenwich, which had a 167 percent increase in operational growth during his tenure

He said the biggest concern in the Fifth District is from families where the children leave the state for college and don’t return because of higher paying jobs in neighboring states.

Apparently not much has changed over the last decade.

According to The Litchfield County Times, developer Mark Greenberg, who ran for the Republican nomination in the congressional district three times and was the GOP nominee in 2014, was saying the same thing during his first bid for the seat, in 2010 – ten years ago – while canvassing homes in Simsbury during the primary.

“If you look at Connecticut, there are higher taxes and spending at the state level and you grow at a lower rate,” said Meehan.

He said “one of the main reasons” for electing a Republican majority to the U.S. House is to get a middle class tax reduction approved to build upon the success of Trump’s tax reform plan that was approved in late 2017 when there was a GOP majority in the lower chamber.

The president announced at the recent Davos economic summit that he plans to submit a middle class tax cut within 90 days.

Why do you need a further tax cut when statistically the national economy is at full employment?

Meehan said that a further middle class tax cut could be utilized to “make sure that the tax cuts are permanent.”

He said the measure would “help small businesses.”

CNBC personal finance reporter Sarah O’Brien wrote in November that reducing for the middle class the “22 percent marginal rate to 15 percent would deliver a $770 billion tax cut through 2025, according to the Tax Foundation.”

“However the benefit to the middle class would be minimal because not much of their income is taxed at 22 percent,” O’Brien added.

Also, the Congressional Budget Office has reported that there will be a $12 trillion budget deficit between 2020 and 2029 under the current economic conditions.

Meehan said Congress should examine where the “the deficit spending” is and find where “items could be cut.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4) of Greenwich told in July 2018 that if the Alan Simpson-Erskine Bowles deficit reduction plan had been approved in the early 2010’s the nation would be on its way to a balanced budget. The last federal budget that was balanced was submitted in October 2000.

Rich Dupont, -the owner of Resource Development Associates in Watertown, and who sought the Republican nomination in the Fifth District in 2018 – said the party should be buoyed by the low unemployment and consumer spending figures that have resulted from Trump’s 2017 tax reform.

“Even with the controversy at the national level, I think the Republicans are in for a strong cycle because of the economy,” said Dupont, who recently moved from Watertown to Branford, which is in the Third Congressional District.

“The business climate is much stronger than it was two years ago,” he explained.

“We can argue over the declining population [in Connecticut], but advanced manufacturing is stronger than any time in the last 20 years,” said Dupont, who works as a consultant in that field. “It’s having a multiplying effect on jobs.”

“We’re seeing an increase in jobs in insurance, financial services and health and bio-science jobs,” the former candidate explained.

“There has been a tremendous difference with where the economy is now,” said a Republican operative, who requested anonymity so he could speak candidly. “I was among the people that thought it would have helped [Republican gubernatorial candidate] Bob Stefanowski’s campaign if Trump had come in two years ago in the gubernatorial race. It would definitely help the Republican candidates this year if Trump campaigned in the state.”

Longtime Republican State Central Committee member John Morris of Litchfield said, “You may not like his personality, but Trump is able to get things done. The economy, making America stronger in the world, addressing border security and trade.”

. . . [The only one with experience in] “Foreign relations” . . .

Meehan has a second master’s degree, which is from Penn’s Lauder Institute of International Studies.

He said as an officer in the military in Afghanistan, he “implemented practical problem solving and brought diverse groups of people together to achieve common goals.”

Meehan said he supports Trump’s recent actions in Iran – including the strike that killed Iranian General Qasemi Soleimani – calling them a “difficult decision” that came with a “calculated risk.”

It appears that former Assistant U.S. Attorney David X. Sullivan of New Fairfield is the early front-runner for the Republican nomination after entering the race last July and maintaining an ambitious schedule of appearances through the district.

As of January 30, he had already been endorsed by the GOP town committees in New Fairfield, Salisbury and Southbury.

He raised over $100,000 through the end of 2019, more than former Meriden Mayor Manny Santos, the 2018 Republican nominee, collected during the last campaign.

“That’s not a lot of money,” said Dupont of Sullivan’s early fund-raising.

CT Mirror reported last October that U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-5) of Wolcott, who was initially elected in 2018, had raised $1.3 million since announcing her candidacy in May. That was the most of any of the five U.S. House members from Connecticut.

“As a challenger you’re not going to win in most cases against an incumbent unless you raise at least 80 percent as much money as the incumbent,” former U.S. Rep. Jim Maloney (D-5) of Danbury, who held the seat from 1997 to 2003, told The Litchfield County Times in 2006. “However, the exceptions to that case is when the political tide is running against the incumbent.”

“I would agree with that,” said Dupont regarding Maloney’s comments.

Sacred Heart Government Professor Gary Rose, who in 2019 wrote, “Connecticut In Crisis “(Academica Press, 281 Pages) said he believes that despite the impressive economic figures, Trump will hamper Republican campaigns in the state, as he did in 2018, when he wasn’t even on the ballot, and the GOP lost a gubernatorial election that seemed to be in their grasp.

Although, he added that he believes the Republican candidates will criticize Hayes for supporting the articles of impeachment against Trump.

Meehan said, “Constituents across the district continue to voice dismay with the time wasted” on the impeachment trial.

Ruben Rodriguez of Waterbury, who is a water meter technician in New Britain and a leader on Puerto Rican issues in the state, announced his candidacy last summer and said in a recent phone interview that he had raised $5,000.

He was recently endorsed by three New Britain municipal officials.

CT Hearst has reported that the other GOP candidate, Robert Hyde, whose text messages are part of the current impeachment trial on Trump’s actions with leaders in the Ukraine, is selling his home in Simsbury.

Meehan announced his campaign on January 6, has a campaign manager and is seeking to establish a headquarters in the district.

“I think he’s behind the 8-ball,” said Morris regarding Meehan’s late entry into the campaign.

Morris, who has endorsed Sullivan, said most of the Republican nominees through the years had declared their candidacy more than a year before the election.

“I haven’t met him and I haven’t even heard from him, which is surprising,” Morris said on January 26 regarding Meehan’s recent entry into a district that includes part of the metro Danbury area, most of Litchfield County and part of the Farmington Valley.

The delegates for the nominating convention will be selected in March and the convention will be held in May. If there is a primary, it will be scheduled in August.

Morris said Sullivan spent considerable time assisting candidates in the 30th state Senate District last fall during the municipal elections.

The Republicans have not captured an election in the sprawling congressional district since 2004 when former U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson of New Britain annexed her 12th term, which was then a record for a U.S. House member from the Nutmeg State.

“The Democrats have been better at getting their voters out to the polls through the recent years,” said the Republican operative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “You can talk about polls, but it mostly comes down to turnout.”

“The problem for the Republicans is losing by large margins in the cities,” Dupont said. “It happened to [2012 Republican nominee] Andrew Roraback and to Mark Greenberg.”

The Litchfield County Times has reported that Republican operative Dave Boomer, who managed Johnson’s 2002 and 2006 campaigns, has said a Democrat has to capture the five cities – Waterbury, Danbury, New Britain, Meriden and Torrington – by a collective plurality of at least 15,000 votes. The Democrat nominee has accomplished that in each election since 2006.

The Cook Political Report labels the district “Solid Democratic” and the Larry J. Sabato Crystal Ballot rates it “Safe Democratic.”

Rose said, “I keep hearing that the Fifth is a swing district. But when was the last time it was swinging.”

“The demographics have changed,” explained Rose, who noted that more suburban women in the district are voting for Democrats.

About 44 percent of the voters are registered as unaffiliated. About 16 percent of the voters are Hispanic and Rodriguez has said there has been a large number of Puerto Ricans moving to Waterbury, New Britain and Meriden in recent years.

State Rep. Stephen Harding (R-107) of Brookfield, who is supporting Sullivan and worked on Roraback’s 2012 campaign, said, “There are places in the district that were reliably Republican some years ago that just aren’t that way anymore, including the Northwest Corner in Litchfield County.”

Meehan criticized Hayes, saying that she has “voted in-line with the most extreme elements of her party 95 percent of the time. . . She has failed to lift a finger on healthcare affordability, mental health coverage or infrastructure.”

In a prepared statement, Hayes said, “Even a superficial search would have shown that I have co-sponsored 50 bills to expand access to affordable health care and to protect patients.”

The congresswoman also stated that she has co-sponsored five measures related to improvement in mental health.

Hayes added that the U.S. House Democrats recently presented the “Moving Forward” plan, “which would infuse $760 billion into our infrastructure over five years.”

“If Mr. Meehan, as a new constituent, has concerns with the substance of any of these bills I sincerely hope he reaches out to my office,” Hayes exclaimed. “However, if he is only interested in partisan talking points, without acknowledging easily verifiable facts, I will not engage. That type of discourse does nothing to make this district a better place to live.”

Said Rose, who lives in the Fifth Congressional District, “I don’t think that she’s [Hayes] run the best constituent service operation. Her constituent service is questionable. I hear that frequently”

In a prepared statement, Hayes said, “Constituent services has been my focus since the moment I stepped into office.”

The congresswoman added, “By the end of 2019, my office held constituent service forums in all 41 municipalities, and we are doubling that effort in 2020.”


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