Latino GOP State Senator – How He Won An Election

By Robert Cyr

Senator-elect Art Linares on the campaign trail this fall.

Republican Art Linares may not be well known by many of the state’s  Latinos, but he made history recently when he became one of two Latinos elected to the State Senate for the first time in 194 years.
New to the Connecticut political arena, the 23-year-old novice politician and business owner  speaks in general platitudes and is still formulating his detailed plan of what he wants to do for the 33rd District once he gets to the General Assembly.
Linares was one of three Latino candidates in the state that received help from a national GOP initiative called the “Future Majority Project,” which hoped to get 100 Latino Republicans in elected offices across the country.  In Connecticut, Malvi Garcia-Lennon ran unsuccessfully for the Senate District 2 seat against African-American veteran legislator Eric Coleman and Hector Reveron waged a losing campaign in East Hartford in Senate District 3 against longtime state Sen. Gary LeBeau.  It is not clear how many of the project candidates won elsewhere because calls for comment were not returned.
Linares said the Future Majority Project was a “good opportunity for Latinos to think about running for office. We are growing in population and it’s important we also have a voice. But this is really more about how we can get more people in general involved in the political process.  My culture has a Cuban background and I think it’s important that other like me get a chance to be heard in Hartford.”
He attributed hard work to his success at the polls. “I knocked on 10,000 doors, I made personal phone calls, I shook as many hands as I could and I listened to people’s concerns,” he said. “My pledge was to put the people first, and working extremely hard was what helped us win the election.”
Linares,  who at 19 opened a solar energy business based in Middletown which has since flourished, and now services businesses and municipalities in three states, won in a three-way race. His Green Party opponent ran one of the strongest third-party campaigns in the state – taking about 9 percent of the vote. That appeared to be the difference in helping Linares take away what was presumed to be a safe Democratic seat.
The Linares campaign included more than 50 high school volunteers and more than 50 family, friends and seniors all making calls to garner him support. “We couldn’t have done it without them. We had a positive energy that really pushed us over,” he said.
Linares counts among his mentors two heavyweight national GOP figures: his mentors, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and fellow Cuban-American, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. In 2010, Linares went to work for Rubio in the newly elected Floridian’s Washington office.

Linares attributes victory to knocking on 10,000 doors (and wearing through at least three pairs of shoes)

The young Republican, who has no prior government experience, said one of his biggest concerns is affordability in the state and helping seniors on a fixed income.
“We need to make sure we can try to make taxes affordable. I haven’t even been to Hartford yet, but once I get there, I’ll try to get the price of gasoline down, and taxes on clothing less than $50. We need to help small businesses, industry and manufacturing by easing overbearing regulations so they can grow and help more people by creating jobs.”
One way to make life more affordable for Connecticut residents is to lower the price of gasoline, he said. This could be done by using money from a reformed public elections financing system, he proposed. According to data from the State Elections Enforcement Commission, Linares received $91,290 in public campaign financing. His opponent, state Rep. Democrat Jim Crawford, received $128,780 in public funds (because he was in a primary).
“Senator-elect Art Linares epitomizes the American Dream. His election to the state Senate is nothing short of historic and he will continue to make his party proud, his Latino heritage proud, and his constituents proud,” said Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield). “I have always believed that the way someone runs a campaign is a good indicator of how they’ll perform in office. In Art’s case, he has demonstrated an unparalleled work ethic and enthusiasm for public service; and he truly listens to the people in his district.
“I look forward to working with Art to advance a number of important initiatives to make living and working in Connecticut more affordable. And I look forward to Art’s insight about how Connecticut Republicans can better serve the Hispanic community.”
Linares will represent the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook. He says, “The most important thing is that I communicate to the people in the district and reach out to the selectmen in the towns and all the representatives, regardless of their party.”


11 thoughts on “Latino GOP State Senator – How He Won An Election

  1. I’m sure I disagree with the vast majority of his positions. But I’ve seen him in person, and he’s extremely likable. Seems like a pretty good dude.

  2. As much I want to congratulate Mr. Linares, and hope that he does a good job, I fear stories like this give him too much credit and are trying to make lemonade out of lemons. Both the New London Day and the Norwich Hour endorsed Green Party candidate Melissa Schlag, and uniformly panned Mr. Linares as inexperienced and out of his league in running for senate.
    But our winner-take-all voting system allowed him to win in a 3-way race, when conservative ideas in this district clearly lack majority support. This is a progressive district, and Mr. Linares should understand his win in a 3-way race does not validate his conservativism, but merely reflect the fact that our voting system is unable to articulate the wishes of voters when more than two inputs are placed on it.
    A higher percentage of voters in this district want liberal representation, and if Mr. Linares faces a two-way race in 2014, or a stronger third party campaign in 2014, then he is a one-termer. Good luck to him anyways, and I hope he supports election reform that allows his district to have the representation it really voted for.
    Kenneth J. Krayeske

  3. Ken, I understand what you mean about the liberal vote being fragmented leading to the Republican win. What I don’t get is what your idea of reform is. Are you saying there should be only 2 choices? It looks like you were advocating for the 2 party monopoly that is crippling this county. I hope that wasn’t the case. We need more voices, more choices and less teams. People stand behind their ideas, not whether their on the Blue Team or Red Team.

  4. So why did the Green Party candidate get so many Democratic votes? What was wrong with the Dem. candidate? 9% is huge for a 3rd party.

  5. Congrats to Art! He ran an amazing campaign, I don’t think anyone had a shot against him. The Dem’s are going to have to find someone pretty special to run against this guy next time around (one that’s willing to work).

  6. I had the honor and privilege to work on the Linares campaign. Art is an amazing individual with a wonderful family. His heart and drive are beyond belief. He cares, listens and will make decisions for the benefit of our district, regardless of party affiliation. This is exactly what we need in Hartford, CHANGE! Art’s victory is a small stepping stone toward bringing our State in a new, positive direction. I am convinced that Art Linares will make me, our constituency and the Latino community proud beyond belief. I believe in you Art! Best wishes as you begin this new journey in your life.

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