He is a major exponent of invigorating the southeast Connecticut economy, possibly by shifting some of the shrinking casino revenue from Hartford to the region affected. Bumgardner espouses a “paradigm shift” in urban development, using a transit oriented approach to establish cultural and lifestyle changes to “reclaim the cities.”
Among the issues he plans to champion are an extension of commuter rail service to link New London with T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island.
Another project he endorses is using water taxis to connect New London’s Bank Street area to downtown Groton, Fort Trumbull and the Nautilus museum. He said a pilot program last summer was successful and he is holding Governor Dannel Malloy to his promise to provide funding for a permanent setup.
There is a personal side to Bumgardner’s interest in water commutation. It could relieve him of the need to drive through to other districts to get from his home to the New London portion of his constituency.
Bumgardner’s background spans both towns. He was born in New London but grew up in Groton where he is a member of the Republican Town Committee. Bumgardner graduated from the Regional Multicultural Magnet School and the Isaac Interdistrict Magnet School for Arts and Communication, both in New London. He attended a boarding school for high school in Weston, Mass. and did his freshman year at Stetson University in Florida before taking a year off to be closer to home and to follow his political ambitions. He plans to continue his college education.
Generally, Bumgardner does not like to label himself but admits he is sort of a “Yankee Republican,” fiscally conservative and progressive on social issues.
“What I offer is a unique set of experiences that define me as a person, as a thinker,” he said.
These experiences include several years working for local and state party leaders and candidates in the New London and Groton area. Bumgardner said his political career began volunteering for then Congressman Rob Simmons, whose wife Edith was his writing teacher in fourth and fifth grade. He rates Simmons as one of the two party leaders he most admires. The other, Tom Foley with whom as a teenager he did an internship during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign. “He would have made a great governor … he has a unique skill set that would have shaken up Hartford,” Bumgardner says of Foley who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2010 and this year.
As for Bumgardner’s future, he and Linares are seen as two of their party’s future stars. Or as one senior state Republican leader described the incoming state representative, “one of CTGOP’s young guns.”