U.S. Senate candidate, Republican Christopher Shays in Groton Monday said that GOP frontrunner Linda McMahon is “ignorant” and she and her staff “clueless” on the Base Realignment and Closure commission (BRAC) process and how to protect the sub base from the threat of closure.
“That she would support (BRAC) unless the sub base was on it. That just blew me away,” he said.
And Groton Mayor Heather Bond Somers made no bones about it.
“We are the ones who have the most at stake here,” she said referring to the fall of Groton should the sub base be targeted for closure.
Somers joined U.S. Senate candidate, Republican Christopher Shays, Former State Sen. Cathy Cook and former Groton mayor Jane Dauphinais at the Submarines Veterans Club Monday afternoon – a press stop during the candidates’ day long Groton and EB visit.
“We’re in full agreement that (Shays) is the right choice to bring the message,” Somers said. She and Shays had met prior to the press conference. “He will help us.”
Cook crunched the numbers to illustrate the detrimental impact a base closure would have -- $4 billion lost economic development and 31,000 jobs, she said.
McMahon, who has a commanding lead over Shays based on recent polls, issued a challenge on his BRAC voting record saying he voted for BRAC and thereby jeopardizing not just the base, but Electric Boat and thousands of jobs.
Shays and Cook flatly denied the allegations. Shays said that when he did vote in favor of BRAC in 2002, “no one even knew (the sub base) was being considered,” and when he voted ‘no’ to disapprove the BRAC recommendations in 2005, that was done “after knowing New London was off the list.”
“No new BRAC. I will fight it as hard as I can possibly fight,” Shays said.
Shays and Cook both described McMahon as being “ignorant” on BRAC issues and history. McMahon has said she would approve a BRAC based on proposed cuts and closures. But as explained by Shays and Cook, the BRAC process is blessed by Congress before the cuts are known and months or more may pass before the Department of Defense shares its recommendations on base closures.
“She made an ignorant statement. She said she’d wait and then vote. That’s not how this works. You can’t buy influence with the Pentagon no matter how much money she has,” Cook charged.
A small number of protesters stood outside the sub veterans club with placards in hand alleging that in the 1990’s, Shays “did vote for BRAC and cost people their jobs, including my husband,” said Sharon Pealer.
Shays described McMahon as an “amateur.”
“She knows wrestling. She knows how to put on a program to attract people that magnify, frankly, some pretty pathetic things,” he said of the WWE. “She’s (qualified) in an arena, not a real arena, but an arena of bullying, of degradation of women, minorities. She’s not qualified to be a senator.”