FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Dan Carter feels Connecticut can find a way out of the economic morass that is frustrating businesses and residents. But the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Bethel believes change is needed, in Washington and in Hartford, to put the troubled state economy back on track.
“The most important issue in this election is growing the economy,’’ Carter said in an exclusive interview with Daily Voice. “We have so many people in this state who are on flat tire away from economic ruin.”
Carter blames Gov. Dannel Malloy and his opponent, Democrat Richard Blumenthal, for the economic malaise that has gripped the state for more than eight years. He criticized Malloy for helping new businesses under his “First Five” initiative while existing companies moved elsewhere. Carter also chastised Blumenthal, who is seeking election to his second term.
“He loves to jump up and attack a company,’’ Carter said. “He wants to be that guy. But how can you love employees but hate employers? That doesn’t make any sense. I don’t think we should prey on businesses for our political gain.”
Carter would like to see a simplified tax code, lower corporate taxes and perhaps even a federal enterprise zone in New Haven or Bridgeport to stimulate job growth.
“We have to be more creative,’’ he said. “If you encourage investment in Bridgeport and New Haven, it helps a lot of other communities as well. It would be unique. It’s not like I’m coming here with all the answers, but we have to find solutions that works. We need practical solutions, not political ones.”
Carter, an Air Force veteran, also believes the nation’s security needs to strengthened. “With Blumenthal and (President) Obama’s foreign policy, we’re in the worst place we’ve been in a long time,’’ Carter said. “They’ve gutted the military, and we are not respected.”
Carter pointed to the voting record of Blumenthal, who is regarded as among the most liberal members of the Senate. Carter pointed to Blumenthal’s support of the nuclear deal with Iran last year, which put that nation’s nuclear program on hold in return for lighter economic sanctions.
Carter, who is currently a state representative, believes Blumenthal’s vote on the Iran deal is symptomatic of the elite’s control on national policy.
“The most important reason why I decided to run is because nobody is entitled to public office,’’ Carter said. “There’s this feeling Blumenthal has a big name and no one should run against him. No one is entitled to that seat. Blumenthal is good about being in the press and standing up in front of cameras, but when you look at his record, it’s pretty dismal. There are a lot of people around the state who feel the same way. They are doing for Connecticut what they did for Detroit.”
Carter, an Ohio native, served as a pilot in the Air Force and flew missions in support of Operation Desert Storm, among others. After leaving the military in 1999, he worked for Pfizer until 2012 and remained in the healthcare field until 2014. He was elected to the State House in 2010, and won two subsequent terms. He represents the state’s 2nd District, which includes Bethel, Redding and Newtown as well as part of Danbury. He has developed a reputation as being unafraid to cross party lines.
He announced his Senate candidacy in April and won the nomination at a contentious Republican State Convention in May.
He knows he’s an underdog against the widely recognized and well-funded Blumenthal. An Emerson College poll earlier this month gave Blumenthal a 54 percent to 33 percent advantage in the race. Blumenthal has also refused to debate Carter, who sent the incumbent a sharply worded reply last week.
“"I'm writing to express my sincere disappointment at your failure to agree to a fair and open debate schedule,’’ Carter wrote. “In your nearly 40 years as a career politician you have run to television cameras and microphones to chastise industries, businesses and individuals for accountability, yet today you are working to run out the clock on this campaign and avoid accountability on your deplorable record.”
Carter vows to go down swinging, and believes voters fed up with Blumenthal will come to his side.
“We’ve moved the needle in our direction in a very short time with no advertising,’’ Carter said. “When I go around the state, people don’t think he’s doing a great job. We also have the wind at our back. Many of the polls are of likely voters. This is an unlikely voting year, and there are people who are done with politics as usual. I think they’re the ones who are going to decide this election.”