Connecticut Organizer of ‘Moms for Bob’ Stefanowski: ‘We’re Not Just Republicans, We’re a Whole Demographic Who Feel Completely Ignored’ by Democrats in Hartford

Sarah Matthews

 

A Connecticut mom who has helped organize mothers who support Republican Bob Stefanowski for governor emphasized to The Connecticut Star her group is composed of moms of all political views who have felt ignored by the Democrats in Hartford ruling their state.

While Sarah Matthews is chairman of the Republican Town Committee in Fairfield, she said her informal organization of mothers supporting Stefanowski in his bid to block Democrat Governor Ned Lamont from another term is “not just Republicans.”

Matthews said a recent article at the Hartford Courant had mischaracterized her group as “a Republican ‘Moms for Bob’” organization.

“And it’s not just Republicans,” she stressed. “It’s a whole demographic, and includes Democrats, and we all have different opinions. And I think that’s one of the huge components missing in Hartford right now.”

“There’s no civil discourse,” Matthews continued about Connecticut state government. “So, a lot of the moms felt like, even people whose representatives were supposedly representing them on their party ticket, just completely ignored them.”

She cited the issue of school mask mandates as the catalyst for parents who then became aware of the wider issues of government controlling the interests of private citizens:

I think, with the whole mask choice situation, it really did bring a lot of people out of the woodwork, recognizing the overreach that we’re seeing, not just within Connecticut and up in Hartford, but also across the country.

The journalists do like to focus on the idea that mask choice is the sole issue, but, in reality, it was sort of the catalyst that helped propel people into realizing everything that was going on.

Matthews said she believes children have been forced to give up the most during the pandemic, even though “all signs” indicate they have been, and are, the least vulnerable to COVID infection.

She said she herself “saw the light” once she heard school boards making decisions about whether to resume in-person vs. remote vs. hybrid learning.

“It didn’t make any sense,” she explained, noting the needs of children were getting lost. “And I think a lot of parents over time started to question these decisions, realizing that, while people were all trying to do the right thing in the beginning, there should have been a turning point where the right thing was to just help our children.”

Matthews said the school closures have had a significant impact on her family.

“My son is in second grade, and has not had one year of elementary school where it’s been ‘normal,’” she explained. “And it affected him tremendously. My daughter, though, she started kindergarten, full-time, in September. And the difference in where he was with his sight words and with his reading, versus where she is now, is incredible. I mean it’s stunning.”

A study released in February by curriculum and assessment company Amplify found more than one in three children in grades K-3 in the U.S. who began school during the pandemic are unlikely to be reading on grade level by the end of the current school year without extensive remedial help.

That learning loss from the pandemic school closures, which teachers’ unions demanded, compounds the regular steady decline of academic progress among struggling elementary school children in the nation, as noted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) prior to the pandemic.

Matthews said her family hired a tutor to get her son back on track, but realizes many families may not have the ability to do the same.

In February, Connecticut lawmakers voted to extend Lamont’s COVID-19 orders through June 30, but effectively ended the statewide mask mandate on February 28, as News12 Connecticut reported.

Parents, however, questioned what would cause a reinstatement of the mask mandate up until June 30.

“Lamont says the main metric is hospital admissions, but neither he nor the state health commissioner can give an exact number,” the news report noted.

Matthews told The Connecticut Star she believes Lamont “saw the tide turning right” on the mandates, but “he didn’t want to turn completely.”

“So, we’re still technically not the ones in charge of our child – of that decision,” she said, adding her children are fortunate that the Fairfield Board of Education agreed to mask choice.

“But, in reality, he’s still leaving it up to the local school boards,” she said about the confusing policy. “And he also has until June 30, where he could, or the State Board of Education could, actually rescind and say, no, we need to reinstate the mandate.”

Asked what appealed to her about Stefanowski, a former chief financial officer of UBS Investment Bank who narrowly lost to Lamont in 2018 in his first political race, Matthews explained:

When I met Bob, with a lot of the families, when we went up to Hartford to testify, he was one of the only ones out there speaking with the parents, and explaining how this would be a non-issue if he were governor because the emergency declaration would not have gone on this long. And that really spoke to me, and I think that he knows that, in Hartford, there’s a ton of overreach. And, I think, just from meeting Bob and speaking with him, he’s someone who genuinely cares and genuinely wants to do what’s best for the people of Connecticut, not just the special interests.

The fact that Matthews’ group consists of women apparently led the Courant to ask chairwoman of the Democrat Party in Connecticut Nancy DiNardo her thoughts about the group’s support for Stefanowski.

“Bob Stefanowski is one of the most anti-woman Republican candidates for governor in a generation,” DiNardo responded. “As Brett Kavanaugh and ultra-conservative justices prepare to roll back Roe v. Wade, women remember that Bob welcomed his appointment to the Supreme Court. … Bob can talk about being pro-women, but his resume and his agenda say otherwise.”

Matthews, who is a Catholic and is raising her children Catholic, however, responded “that whole argument” against Stefanowski “doesn’t have any legs at this time in Connecticut,” since the state is one of the few that has codified the provisions of Roe v. Wade in state law.

The Fairfield mom asserted that while she in no way is “fine” with abortion or believes it is acceptable, she sees Democrats making “sweeping generalizations” about abortion when she also knows there is “no way that any Republican candidate is marching up to Hartford to make tearing down that law” a priority while the state government is committing “so much overreach and micromanagement of 169 municipalities.”

Matthews said the focus of her bipartisan group has been that, regardless of whether mothers are home with their children or working outside their homes, they are worried about what is happening to their rights as parents, and Stefanowski is speaking to that concern.

Even as things began to return to normal, she said, it seems government officials are still saying they ultimately have the right to make decisions for their children’s health and education.

“That hits incredibly hard,” she added. “I think that woke a lot of people up to other areas of interest where, okay, so what else is the government doing? What else is the legislature doing, our legislators doing, our representatives?”

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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Sarah Matthews” by Fairfield Republican Town Committee.

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