Connecticut Republican leaders denounce GOP state representative’s comment comparing Gov. Lamont to Hitler

·5 min read
Connecticut Republican leaders denounce GOP state representative’s comment comparing Gov. Lamont to Hitler

Republican leaders in Connecticut are condemning a GOP lawmaker’s social media posts comparing Gov. Ned Lamont to Hitler.

“Those references are offensive,” said Vin Candelora, the top Republican in the Connecticut House of Representatives, referring to comments by state Rep. Anne Dauphinais, a Republican from Killingly.

“We should really refrain from making any references to Hitler or the Holocaust or Nazis,” said Candelora, a Republican from North Branford.

Ben Proto, chairman of the state Republican Party, said it is “completely unacceptable to ever use Hitler or any aspect of Nazism as descriptors of present-day politicians or the political landscape in Connecticut or America.

“Invoking that time in history is heartless, inhumane and cheapens one of the most horrific acts committed by mankind,” Proto said in a written statement. “It denigrates those who suffered then and the loved ones they left behind who are still struggling today.”

In a Facebook post last week critical of Lamont’s vaccine mandate for state employees, Dauphinais compared the Democratic governor to Hitler.

Over the weekend, Dauphinais, a Republican from Killingly serving her third term in the legislature, posted again. She declared that her comments were “neither anti-Semitic nor factually inaccurate,” and clarified that “I meant that [the governor] was acting like Hitler in the early 1930′s — to date, he has not called for putting the unvaccinated in camps.”

Dauphinais did not respond to a request, through an aide, seeking comment.

During an interview Monday afternoon with WTIC-AM host Todd Feinburg, Dauphinais said she did not think her post would generate outrage.

She said she made the comparison because “literally people are calling me up and referring to [Lamont] as Hitler. They see this as a dictatorship, a tyrannical government [with] their inability to have a voice for themselves.

“Why,” Dauphinais asked, “are people focusing on what I’m saying and not what he is doing?”

Dauphinais, a member of the legislature’s conservative caucus, is not the first lawmaker to compare public health protocols during the pandemic to the Holocaust. U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican from Colorado, referred to public health workers conducting vaccination drives as “Needle Nazis.” And U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, criticized such workers as “medical brown shirts.”

House Speaker Matt Ritter, a Democrat from Hartford, called Dauphinais “the Marjorie Taylor Greene of Connecticut.”

Dauphinais is part of a small group of conservative Republican legislators who are using incendiary rhetoric to fight mask mandates and vaccination rules, Ritter said.

Last month, another member of the conservative caucus came under fire for invoking George Floyd’s final words “I can’t breathe” while debating COVID-19 mask mandates in the legislature and a Republican senator compared vaccine mandates to slavery.

“There’s clearly a segment of the legislature, in this case a dozen people or so, maybe even less, who enjoy making outlandish, outrageous statements,” Ritter said.

“They could care less about what people think about them from the Democratic side and their own colleagues. They don’t care because they don’t pass bills, they don’t introduce bills, they don’t get anything done,” Ritter said.

“They’re up there to provide shock value,” he added. “No one is able to work with them on legislation.”

In her interview of WTIC, Dauphinais said Democrats are guilty of using the same tactics against Trump.

“So many people referred to him as Hitler. Where was the outrage?” she said. “I didn’t hear any of the very same people … who have come out and begged for an apology” from her. “Where were they then, when they were calling out Trump and calling him Hitler?”

The newest member of the Connecticut legislature, Sen. Ryan Fazio, a Republican from Greenwich, said comparing one’s political adversaries to Hitler is never advisable.

“If you’re considering comparing your political opponents to Nazis — no matter which side you’re on — don’t,” Fazio tweeted. “Our state and nation is only further divided by histrionic rhetoric.”

Former Republican state Rep. Themis Klarides, who is considering a run for governor, said such comparisons serve to diminish the horror of Hitler’s atrocities.

“Nobody’s been more critical of the governor than I have but comparing him to Adolf Hitler or anyone like him shouldn’t be part of any dialogue we have,” she said.

Candelora said the inflammatory nature of Dauphinais’ post has detracted attention from the public policy debate over vaccine mandates.

“It really takes away from the issue people want to address and that is the forced vaccination of our state employees and other individuals who need to make a decision about whether to get vaccinated or earn a living,” Candelora said.

“I understand the point that she’s making and how frustrated she is for individuals that are forced with that decision but we’ve now shifted the dialogue [away from] the substance of the point she was trying to make,” he added.

Proto, the state Republican chairman, said the pandemic — and the government orders it has spawned — has placed enormous pressure on politicians and state residents.

“We are drowning in executive orders and mandates and people on all sides of the political spectrum are frustrated and tired, but that does not excuse the use of these words and images,” he said. “While tensions are at what feels like an all time high, we cannot permit the use of such extreme comparisons — like Nazi Germany — to become acceptable ways to voice discontent or disagreement.”