Phyllis Nastri mistook Chris Murphy for Martin Looney and wondered where the potholders were.
Just in the nick of political time, Looney showed up with his signature bag of of swag and gave Nastri hers.
The confusion cleared up, speeches began at the de rigueur 11th hour pre-election rally-the-seniors party Sunday night at New Haven’s Bella Vista complex for the elderly.
The party in Bella Vista’s Victoria Room was the fifth stop for Democrat Murphy on a whirlwind day of campaigning for Connecticut’s open U.S. Senate seat. The event also marked the third straight day in this final stretch that Murphy made stops in New Haven, a crucial city for him as he faces Republican McMahon in Tuesday’s election.
Looney is a familiar, popular face at these events (not to mention a reliable campaign potholder distributor). So are U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. (Click here and here for stories about the previous get-out-the-vote events at the the senior citizen complex that houses 3,000 people on Eastern Avenue in Fair Haven.)
The trio escorted Murphy, an unfamiliar face, to the party Sunday night in the hopes their popularity would rub off on him Tuesday.
“It’s not a campaign season or two days before election without being at Bella Vista,” DeLauro declared before a crowd of about 60 tenants.
In a complex where the only Republicans are hiding, according to Building One President Penny Lesco, the Democrats’ pitch in their warm-up talks for Murphy was less about persuasion than about the urgency of turning out to vote.
“She [Republican candidate Linda McMahon] cannot be allowed to buy the seat. That’s why the city of New Haven and Bella Vista has to turn out,” Looney declared.
Looney is running unopposed but still asked for a good turnout for himself and for DeLauro. “That Rosa has an opponent gives an opportunity for us to give her a large mandate,” he added.
Murphy hit on themes he has struck in recent visits to other senior centers: his mother’s economic struggles raising him in New Britain; an impassioned defense of Medicare and Social Security; and what he termed Republicans’ “crazy plans” for altering or eliminating those programs.
Lesco, who has lived at Bella Vista for 30 years, said the turnout at past pre-election parties doubled Sunday night’s. The 30 who did show up listened in almost hushed silence as DeLauro called the election a battle for “the soul of our country” and described the millions of older women whose only income is Social Security.
They also gave enthusiastic applause, especially to Se. Blumenthal’s description of McMahon’s positions on Social Security: “She’s the WWE, World’s Waffling Expert.”
Lesco, who vividly recalled JFK’s ride down Whalley Avenue in a red convertible during the 1960 election, had a theory for the small turnout: because Bella Vista has many people on disability, “they turned the clock back and they forgot to come.”
Bella Vista’s alderwoman, Barbara Constantinople, offered another reason: “People are sick of a thousand calls a day.”
Murphy called the senior citizen vote “absolutely critical,” and also said registration is up.
Then he went out the Victoria Room to a car waiting to take him to a church in Bridgeport, his sixth and final event of the day.