HARTFORD — It's known as Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment: "Thou Shalt Not Speak Ill of Any Fellow Republican.''
And now David Walker of Bridgeport, one of the Republicans running for lieutenant governor in Connecticut, is accusing his opponent, Heather Somers of Groton, of violating the precept.
"Heather Somers continues to run a negative campaign in blatant violation of President Reagan's 11th Commandment," Walker said. "Her campaign is based on a series of false statements and distortions about her experience and others."
Last week, Somers' campaign manager, Jon Conradi, sent an email to supporters denouncing Walker as "a career Washington bureaucrat who recently moved to Connecticut and only joined the Republican Party in January to run for higher office" — allegations Walker refutes.
The back and forth between Walker and Somers is another sign of the increasingly contentious tone of the lieutenant governor's race. Somers also has been critical of another Republican running for the position, Penny Bacchiochi of Stafford.
Somers, the former mayor of the town of Groton, has characterized both Walker, the former U.S. comptroller general, and Bacchiochi, a state representative, as government insiders who are part of the problem in Washington and Hartford.
The Walker campaign emailed a lengthy rebuttal of Somers' various attacks to reporters late Wednesday. To Somers' charge that Walker is a "career Washington bureaucrat," he said he is the opposite.
"I spent 25 of my 40-year professional career in the private sector," Walker said. "During my 15 years of federal government service, I was an executive and change agent who helped to save American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars and made major change happen in the federal government."
Walker also responded to Somers' charge that he is a newcomer to Connecticut and only became a Republican to run for elective office.
"I moved to Connecticut 4 1/2 years ago and had no plans to run for office when I moved here,'' Walker said. "If I had wanted to run for public office, I would have stayed in Virginia or moved to a 'red' state where I have lived previously."
Walker acknowledged that he had been a Democrat until the mid-1970s, when the party swung to the left. He was a registered Republican until 1997, when he shed his party affiliation because of his appointment as comptroller general, who is charged with overseeing the Government Accountability Office.
Walker re-affiliated with the Republican Party in January, but he made no apology for his past identity as a Democrat. "Ronald Reagan was also a Democrat before he joined the Republican Party,'' Walker noted.
Bacchiochi, Somers and Walker will face off in a primary on Tuesday. They are each vying for the chance to take on Democratic Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who does not face opposition within her own party.Copyright © 2015, CT Now