By Rod Carveth
CT Latino Senate candidate Dan Dauplaise faces an uphill battle in his race for the 36th District Senate seat. Should he win, however, he will not only be the first Latino to hold a Senate seat in that district, but he will be the first Democrat to win the District since 1930.
Dauplaise intends to work for improved health care in the state. “Connecticut has the richest people in the country and the poorest people.” As a result, some people in the state receive excellent medical treatment, while others rely on the emergency room for care. Dauplaise asserted, “The United States needs to join the rest of the world and consider health care as a human right.
The first-time candidate accepted the Democratic nomination for the 36th State Senate seat in May. He would be first Latino to serve as state senator from the district. “I am a first-hand product of immigration,” Dauplaise observed and then noted, “the only thing my grandfather was allowed to keep was a box of Cuban cigars, which he sold when he arrived in Miami so his family could have some place to stay. He was a police officer in Cuba, but was forced to take work as a janitor. Yet, he believed he left his country behind in order to do better for himself and his children.”
Dauplaise is confident he will be able to unseat two-term Republican incumbent L. Scott Frantz, a wealthy entrepreneur in November’s election, even though it would be the first such victory in more than 80 years. While he believes Frantz will have the money to air a number of TV ads, Dauplaise says he will win by knocking on as many doors in the district as possible to talk with the voters in person. Frantz “might have a good air game,” Dauplaise mused, “but I will have a better ground game.”
Dauplaise, 27, was born and raised in Stamford and is a third-generation Cuban American. His father was a chemist who worked in Woodbridge, and his mother was a bilingual teacher and administrator in the Stamford public schools. Dauplaise’s grandparents left Cuba in 1961, first settling in Miami, and then came to Connecticut to work for renowned publisher William F. Buckley.
His background in education “is one of the reasons I want to go to Hartford.” According to Dauplaise, one of the key issues the legislature needs to take up is the implementation of the recently passed education reform.
For example, Dauplaise noted, “one of the most important issues is how we fund charter schools” because it is important that the schools “be more inclusive.” He points to the Stamford Academy and Trailblazers as examples of charter schools that are “great programs and interesting models” because their student populations are representative of the demographics of Stamford, unlike many charter schools around the state.
After graduating from Trinity Catholic High School, Dauplaise enrolled at Cornell University. He began as a chemistry major, but his involvement with the Cornell debating team led him to gravitate to studying government. His decision to major in government occurred after he “took a class in the operations of Congress.” By the time he was a sophomore, Dauplaise was involved in a local state senate campaign in Ridgefield.
After Dauplaise graduated from Cornell University with a degree in government, he was accepted into the New York City Teaching Fellows program where he taught special education at the middle school level. Dauplaise calls the experience “one of the most interesting times I spent in my life” as he taught students who ranged from 5th to 8th grades.
Following his experience in New York, Dauplaise interned for U.S. Chris Dodd. Then, “partly because I knew Spanish,” he got a job working as a staff assistant for Arizona U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor. While there he supported the congressman’s efforts on the Appropriations Committee and saw the inner workings of the passage of the Health Care Act in 2009. Dauplaise then returned to Connecticut to work as 4th District Field Organizer for Governor Malloy’s gubernatorial campaign.
Since 2010, Dauplaise has been working with the Greenwich Education Group as a consultant. The group provides direct academic services to individual students as well as dispensing specialized career and college assistance to young adults. Dauplaise is also currently the Executive Vice President of the Fairfield County Young Democrats and a member of the Stamford Democratic City Committee.
Another issue that Dauplaise intends to focus on is public safety, an area that “can be done much more efficiently.” Dauplaise has spent 10 years in the fire service. He began as a volunteer in Stamford at age 16. Then, while at Cornell, he worked out a deal with the fire department in Ithaca where he lived in the fire station in return for working two nights a week. When Dauplaise taught in New York City, he decided to live in Stamford and commute to Manhattan so he could continue serving North Stamford as a volunteer firefighter.
By Rod Carveth