I have not posted anything about the Board of Education campaign — nor did I intend to. The race was uncontested (until the emergence of a write-in candidate), and the Republican and Democratic nominees are largely in agreement on issues like learning loss and infrastructure.
But at the end of Thursday’s mostly uncontroversial League of Women Voters’ forum, one candidate addressed an issue that has percolated both locally and nationally: Critical Race Theory.
In doing so, Robert Harrington broke with the Republican Party that had endorsed him.
Addressing the anti-CRT signs that have appeared around town — and an anonymous website — he said:
Thank you to the other candidates — and fingers crossed, I hope to be working with all three of you after November 2nd election.
Hopefully tonight has shown it is not about about “Republican vs. Democrat” or “Red versus Blue” when it comes to a local school board election.
But that is the system that Westport chooses. Political parties nominate candidates.
So as a Republican candidate for the Board of Education in Westport, I have a strong and direct message to my local Republican Party.
To be clear: This is not about my running mate, Dorie Hordon. I look forward to working with her.
But my party’s response to “Wake Up Westport CRT: signs is not okay with me.
Their response to the an anonymous website has not shown leadership throughout the party.
This goes beyond those behind this website, and the lawn signs. They have full right of free speech. There is no issue with that. But it is about how we respond to that message. My party’s response is not okay.
I fear in my local Republican Party I am paying the price for speaking out. I suspect tonight it won’t get any better.
In terms of the local campaign, I have 4 points to make to my party:
Joint Facebook Page/Account: The Republican Party has deleted all the content, and has not allowed me to put up any new content — not even highlighting an upcoming meeting about our failing school bus schedules. If you go to HordonHarrngton4BOE, you will see there is zero content there.
Campaign email: The same here. As a candidate I have not be able to email voters or residents — not even a personal statement.
Message from my party: I’ve been asked or told to stop campaigning, shut up, sit down and cancel meetings.
Questions from residents: A resident asked me online (before the entire contents of the site were deleted) a series of legitimate questions on my views on the future of Trump, my response to January 6, and the way I dealt with “The Big Lie.” I answered all these questions, and was happy to do so. However, the Republican campaign, without my knowledge or approval, deleted all my answers.
This is not democratic. It’s not transparent — for a party that often talks about transparency. It’s not a good look for Westport.
Worst of all: It’s not a good look for local Republican Party. They are acting like the national Republican Party
For the sake of Westport and the local Republican Party: We must change.
I reached out to Republican Town Committee chair Joe Sledge for a response. He referred me to the “Westport Republicans” page on Facebook. and this post pinned at the top of the page:
At last night’s League of Women Voters debate, Robert Harrington commented on procedures that the Westport Republican Town Committee put in place with respect to campaign communications by candidates on campaign social media accounts.
Connecticut State law requires that campaign communications contain specific attribution language, and the WRTC has sought to assure that candidates comply with these rules. Understandably, Robert may not be fully familiar with these regulations. We commend Robert’s passion and willingness to express his perspective.