Falling to Rosa DeLauro seems to be a prerequisite for leading the Connecticut Republican Party.
Two of the three contenders for the GOP chairmanship have mounted unsuccessful challenges to the Democratic congresswoman in the 3rd District, including current party boss Jerry Labriola Jr., who mustered 35 percent of the vote in the 2010 House race.
Labriola, 55, a Wallingford lawyer who comes from a political family and has roots in Naugatuck, is seeking a second two-year term as boss of a party that has not won a statewide race since 2006.
“I am very confident that I will be re-elected by a committee of my peers,” said Labriola, whose fate as chairman will be determined June 25 when the Republican State Central Committee votes on party leadership.
The competition is Wayne Winsley, a veteran radio broadcaster who lost to DeLauro in 2012, and Tea Party Patriots organizer Ronald Wilcox.
“I wish Wayne and Ron well,” said Labriola, who declined to comment further on his opponents.
Winsley, who had been seeking to become only the second black politician elected to Congress from Connecticut, said Republicans must make inroads in cities and other parts of the state where they have traditionally struggled.
“I believe that the Republican party has the right message, but we have to become more effective at telling people about that message and reaching all of the people with that message,” Winsley said. “You do it by showing up, number one. There should be no area in this state where Republicans don’t go. We can’t afford to write off any district, neighborhood or any voter.”
Winsley, 49, a New Milford resident, was outspent by more than 10-to-1 by DeLauro, who captured 68 percent of the vote in the 3rd District.
“The most important thing that I learned from my congressional race is that the conservative message resonates if delivered to everybody,” Winsley said. “Every citizen in Connecticut wants to have a job to go to, wants to know that their children can be properly educated and have a bright future, and that their retirement is something that they can look forward to without fear.”
Wilcox, 64, is a former state coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots who hails from Newtown and remains heavily involved in the organization.
“Like many Republicans, I’m a Tea Party Republican because I do believe in limited government, free markets, things like that,” Wilcox said.
Republicans make up the smallest bloc of the electorate in Connecticut after unaffiliated voters and Democrats, who hold every statewide office, all five congressional districts, both U.S. Senate seats and majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly.
“I feel that we certainly need to strengthen our base,” Wilcox said. “Part of what I hope to do is attract those unaffiliated voters with some positive messaging.”
Wilcox said that the people of Connecticut have not been served well by Democrats.
“So if we continue the one-party system in Connecticut, I don’t see us digging out of that,” he said. “I see us spiraling down further.”