Charges of racism fly between lieutenant governor rivals


Former U.S. Comptroller General Dave Walker is demanding an apology from state Rep. Penny Bacchiochi for comments the Stafford Springs lawmaker made on the radio Thursday claiming that one of her opponents was attempting to make her interracial marriage a deal-breaker for Republicans.

Bacchiochi, the perceived frontrunner for the GOP endorsement for lieutenant governor, told WTIC’s Jim Vicevich on “Sound Off Connecticut” that rival political operatives tried to talk Republicans out of supporting her because that’s “not the image the party wants.”

In a subsequent interview with WFSB’s Susan Raff, Bacchiochi elaborated that was referring to Walker, who lives in Bridgeport.

Walker rebuked Bacchiochi Thursday night, calling her comments unfounded and irresponsible.

“I hope people will see Penny Bacchiochi’s assertion for what it is — a complete untruth by a desperate candidate on the eve of the GOP Convention,” Walker said in a statement. “This outrageous, unethical and unfounded personal attack has no basis in fact or reality. I am shocked and saddened as to why this particular line of attack was chosen, but she has essentially called me a racist. I have run a positive campaign based on my qualifications and the issues. Meanwhile, Penny continues to focus on personal attacks rather than tell the voters how she will solve the problems facing our state.”


Three Republicans are seeking to challenge Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who is arguably the state’s most popular Democrat, in November.

The third is Heather Bond Somers, a former Groton mayor and town councilor who is the running mate of Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.

Up until the eve of the convention, the lieutenant governor’s race stood as a mere footnote to the five-way GOP contest for governor.

Not anymore.

Republicans are scheduled to make their endorsements for the state’s second-highest office Saturday at Mohegan Sun.

“I have a 40-year record, including 15 years of public service during four presidential administrations,” Walker said. “I have been subject the three full FBI background investigations and have been confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate three times. There are literally thousands of people that I have worked with who would be outraged by her unfounded assertions. For people who know me her comments are clearly ridiculous and deserve no response. But in the court of public opinion, and because a television station decided to run this as a top story, without verification, I have no choice but to defend myself.”

Bacchiochi’s husband, Emil Igwenagu, is a Nigerian immigrant. He has four sons from a previous marriage, one of who plays for the Philadelphia Eagles.

A faction of Republicans has been drawn to Bacchiochi and her background, which they say could bring much needed balance to the GOP ticket in the fall.

Walker said Bacchiochi should be ashamed of herself.

“The real story is that Penny Bacchiochi deliberately impugned my reputation in the most hurtful and harmful way possible for purely political reasons,” Walker said. “I am disappointed that Rep.Bacchiochi has decided that this was an appropriate campaign tactic. It is wrong, it is unfair, and anyone who knows me knows it is not true.”

Neil Vigdor