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Republican Chairman J.R. Romano should resign

The Connecticut Republican party, under failed leadership, sank to a new low this week.

It turns out lots of Republicans, including GOP Chairman J.R. Romano, knew, even before choosing him as the candidate to represent their party for the Second District Congressional race, that Thomas Gilmer of Madison had been accused of a serious assault on a woman.

Romano, according to Justin Anderson, the candidate Republicans rejected at their May convention, had an opportunity to review an actual video of the assault that eventually resulted in Gilmer's arrest on the eve of Tuesday's primary, but chose not to.

Party leaders, knowing of the video, went on to participate in "victim shaming" before nominating Gilmer anyway, according to Anderson.

Wow.

I remember when Connecticut Republicans had principles and valued integrity. It was part of their brand, back when they could win national offices.

Now the chairman of the party won't even investigate serious allegations, circulating across social media, of a candidate brutally assaulting a woman.

If he had, he could have even reviewed the evidence, an explicit video of the assault, that was cited in the warrant for Gilmer's arrest on a warrant charging him with strangulation and unlawful restraint.

He chose to look away instead.

On the one hand, I suppose you could suggest Romano, who didn't flinch from his enthusiastic Donald Trump support, despite a video of Trump bragging about sexual assault on women, was probably fairly representing many in his party here in ignoring the allegations against Gilmer.

After all, Gilmer got enough votes Tuesday to create a cliffhanger, with no clear winner, despite the fact that police charged him with the serious assault charges the day before.

Wow.

Never mind that he was a problematic candidate even before, signaling support for bizarre conspiracy theories promulgated by QAnon, a group about as far into the political fringe as you can get.

By the time all those 2nd District Republicans actually voted for Gilmer in the primary this week, police had already revealed details of the assault in which they allege, backed up with the video, that Gilmer lodged multiple closed-fist punches to the victim's face and held her in a chokehold that the investigating officer concluded could have killed her.

Imagine reading that in your morning paper and then going to vote for the guy.

Wow.

Romano was quoted as calling the arrest "sad." Who does that remind you of?

Gilmer is innocent until proven guilty and is entitled to his day in court. But he doesn't deserve, given the seriousness of accusations behind his arrest, the benefit of the doubt from Republicans that he will beat the charges.

Romano says he suggested turning over the video to police when he first heard of it. That is not in any way adequate due diligence for a party chairman who has been informed of alarming accusations surfacing about a candidate being considered for a nomination in the race for a congressional seat.

It's up to the Connecticut Republicans who can still make some claim to integrity and decency to insist that Chairman Romano resign and rescue the party from depravity.

Connecticut needs two viable political parties, and Democrats and Republicans alike should be alarmed by what unfolded in the 2nd District this week.

Every Connecticut Republican owns it, and they all need to clean house right away.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

d.collins@theday.com

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