AP NEWS

Camillo throws his hat in the ring for sixth term as state rep

March 10, 2018 GMT

GREENWICH — State Rep. Fred Camillo made it official Thursday night: He will be seeking a sixth term in office representing the state’s 151st District in Hartford.

Camillo’s announcement had been expected for weeks, and he made it before a crowd of nearly 50 supporters inside Redmen’s Hall on East Elm Street. And the Greenwich Republican said it was one he had known for some time he would make.

“We’ve come a long way in the state,” Camillo said. “(The Republican caucus) got a lot of great things done last year in last year’s budget, which is unheard of in the previous four terms. I’m very hopeful we can continue the cooperation we had last fall. And I’m interested to see what happens with the election in November to see if there’s a change at all in the state in leadership.”

Camillo was joined at Thursday’s announcement by a crowd of supporters that included state Sen. L. Scott Frantz, R-36; Selectman John Toner; several members of the town’s Board of Estimate and Taxation; former Selectman Peter Crumbine; town Ambassador Bea Crumbine; and former state Sen. William Nickerson.

As he looked out into the crowd of friends and longtime supporters, Camillo recalled his initial campaign launch 10 years ago in Cos Cob. He thanked everyone for all they had done for him over the years and pledged to keep fighting for them in Hartford.

Camillo is the third member of Greenwich’s delegation to announce re-election plans. Frantz announced last month he would seek a sixth term in the state senate. State Rep. Livvy Floren, R-149, has said she will go for her 10th term in the legislature. That only leaves the question of whether state Rep. Michael Bocchino, R-150, will seek a third term.

Bocchino did not give any indication of his plans but said Friday he expected to make an announcement within the next two weeks.

The seats in the state legislature have been on Republican lock in Greenwich for generations. But the Democrats had a historic performance in the 2017 municipal elections, winning the town finance board for the first time and over-performing historical vote totals in other key town races.

Greenwich Democratic Town Committee Chairman Jeff Ramer said last month he has gotten more interest from potential candidates than in past years but acknowledged it has been difficult to recruit candidates in the past. Ramer could not be reached Friday for additional comment.

In 2016, Camillo ran against Greenwich resident Dita Bhargava in a presidential election year campaign in which she often linked Camillo to the behavior of Donald Trump, who he was supporting. Camillo said he expects Trump to again be an issue but hopes voters will not mix national politics with local and state issues.

“When President (Barack) Obama got into office and Gov. (Dannel) Malloy was elected it energized the opposition, and we got the Tea Party,” Camillo said. “Look at what happened with that. When I got elected in 2008, there 37 Republicans against 114 Democrats, and now it’s almost even. Now there’s a Republican president who can be a little bit of a lightning rod. And even if you don’t support him on everything, they will go after you because you have an R next to your name. That’s politics.”

Camillo said he will be able to rebut that if it comes up as an issue.

“We’re going to run on my proven record and a continued vision for everybody in the district,” Camillo said. “Bringing Donald Trump or a national issue to this race isn’t the solution to local issues and making Connecticut a leader in economic and quality-of-life categories like it used to be.”

As for major accomplishments by the Republicans in Hartford, Camillo pointed to what he said were positive changes to the estate tax as well as a spending and bonding cap being phased in for the state.

If elected to a new term, Camillo said he would continue to push for bills that would offer additional protections for seniors from financial and health care scams, for animal welfare and for protecting police officers.

One of those bills is the so-called Good Samaritan laws that protect people who are trying to help even if their actions have unintended consequences. Camillo said he wants to make sure there is help for people who try to assist animals in need.

“We saw several pets die last year in the extreme heat, but this can also be for extreme cold, too,” he said. “So far 27 states have that law, and we should, too. We’re going to try and do it.”

Camillo said he is the same the guy who was in Cos Cob 10 years ago, asking for votes for the first time. He said he still enjoys the work and serving all of his constituents, no matter their political party. That makes it worth it, he said, to endure the long drives back and forth from Hartford and an often-frustrating legislative process.

“The reward is seeing people satisfied when you answer their call and you’re able to get something done for them,” Camillo said.

kborsuk@greenwichtime.com