David Rafferty (opinion): Wait for Act II of the Greenwich Red Hat Show

Greenwich Republican Town Committee leadership, from left, Treasurer Cheryl Resnick, Chair Beth MacGillivray, Vice Chair Jane Sprung and Secretary Gail Lauridsen delivered the bad news to supporters on Election Night. 

Greenwich Republican Town Committee leadership, from left, Treasurer Cheryl Resnick, Chair Beth MacGillivray, Vice Chair Jane Sprung and Secretary Gail Lauridsen delivered the bad news to supporters on Election Night. 

Ken Borsuk

Typically, elections are a referendum on the incumbent or the incumbent party. Look at what the guy in office has said and achieved, then check out the other guy. Now armed with data, you decide whose intentions, actions and values are more aligned with the way you see the world. Then go vote for one or the other.

Everything else, all the debates, ads and oratory, that's "the campaign." The methodology candidates use to make their case to the electorate by touting successes, showcasing challenges, and promising with soaring rhetoric how he or she would do things differently. But here's a vital point. Since an election is a clash of values, any campaign that includes critiques of voting records, reminders of statements an opponent has made, the specifics of an opponent's party platform, or details of who an opponent philosophically aligns with is legitimate discourse, and not, by definition, a "negative" campaign. Using someone's public record against them in a campaign is not the same as "going negative."

Asking when you stopped beating your spouse would be "going negative." Voting against funding a new school and then showing up to the groundbreaking for a photo op is hypocritical, and having this pointed out is not "going negative."

In the recent election, most Greenwich Republican candidates got pulverized not because of negative campaigning, but because Democratic candidates finally started doing what they should have been doing for years. Calling out falsehoods and shining a multi-megawatt spotlight on what the Republican Party and its candidates say, do and stand for.

Last January the Republican Town Committee was taken over by the Trump-aligned Red Hats in the Putnam Avenue Putsch, and now in the wake of their epic trouncing they want to lay the blame at anything but themselves or their candidates. For example, they're angry with New Yorkers who moved to town and — horrors — were not reflexively inclined to vote Republican.

Really? The influx of New Yorkers gobbling up homes in Greenwich has been front-page news the last couple of years, so were Republicans oblivious to or just willfully ignorant of the changing demographic? This was an institutional failure. If immigration from New York was such a big deal, then shame on the RTC for not noticing before Election Day and tailoring their message and messengers to respond to the change.

Amazingly too, in looking for something positive to grab onto, the RTC is proudly trumpeting the fact that Republicans came out to vote in greater percentages than Democrats, 71 percent to 63 percent. Except, all this proves is that if more Republicans actually came out to vote, and the Democrats won, then maybe there were Republicans who actually voted for Democrats. Why would they flip? Maybe because the RTC and it's messages and tactics, along with it's collection of misbegotten candidates, did not represent the values and desires of most Greenwichites.

Where else can blame be laid? Well, some of the candidates are angry with the RTC and their perceived quisling Republican non-true believers, while others are pointing fingers at First Selectman Fred Camillo, which is inconceivable. Camillo let Republican candidates get away with viciously disparaging our schools without every pushing back. Through his silence he condoned the concoction of imaginary crime waves the candidates tried to scare us with. He even appeared at a local fundraiser for one of the worst national MAGA candidates, attempting to solidify his Red Hat bona fides. What more could they want?

So, by now you must be wondering, why am I reading another election rehash, isn't this finally over? Nope. This Red Hat Town Committee was built to compete for Board of Education, Board of Estimate and Taxation and Selectman seats, so the 2023 local elections are going to be a doozy. Don't expect a whole lot of thoughtful introspection or structural change from the Red Hats, but do expect to see Camillo primaried from his right unless he decides to drink all their poison Kool-Aid. Expect more trash talking of our schools, more science denial, more fear mongering and economic sleight-of-hand, and declarations that only Republicans can love Freedom! Sorry Greenwich, this election was only Act I of the Greenwich Red Hat Republican tragedy.

 David Rafferty is a Greenwich resident.