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General News    H3'ed 1/17/20

Backed By Outpouring of Support, Democratic Rep. Jahana Hayes Expands Her Voter Base

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Connecticut GOP hopeful Robert Hyde's pipe dream of taking on Jahana Hayes, Connecticut's first black elected congresswoman, went down in flames following stunning revelation that he might have been illegally tracking the whereabouts of Marie Yovanovitch, the former American ambassador to Ukraine.

With the latest reports placing Mr. Hyde at the center of President Trump's explosive impeachment saga, his political fortunes in the district he had hoped to represent appears to have suffered a devastating setback, spiraling downward even as his local Republican colleagues maintain their distance. "I have asked Rob Hyde to end his bid for Congress. His campaign is a distraction for the Democrats to raise money and falsely label all Republicans with his antics," J. R. Romano, chairman of Connecticut's Republican Party, tweeted hours after Robert Hyde's name popped up in the latest bombshell document.

As it turned out, Mr. Hyde -- whose social media accounts are littered with photographs of him with President Trump, the Trump family and allies -- is no stranger to controversy.

In fact, in a series of gaffes early on, the former Iraq war veteran, who is vying for Connecticut's 5th Congressional district, served notice to residents that he's not in a position to represent their political aspirations -- much less representing them in the halls of Congress.

In one of his most explosive tweets last month, Mr. Hyde referred to what many considered a nasty vulgarity to describe former Democratic candidate Kamala Harris after she announced she was exiting the race.

Mr. Hyde's crude and sexist comment drew widespread condemnation from both political parties, leading top Republicans to call on him to drop out.

In the latest controversy, text messages between Lev Parnas, an indicted former associate of Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and Mr. Hyde seemed to indicate a subtle plot to place former US ambassador Marie Yovanovitch under surveillance. "She's talked to three people. Her phone is off," read one of the messages, later attributed to Hyde.

To date, Ukrainian authorities have opened a criminal investigation into allegations that rogue elements may have placed the ambassador under surveillance in violation of diplomatic treaties.

Meanwhile, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, whom Mr. Hyde is trying to unseat, has expanded her grassroot support base throughout the district she represents, drawing broad political support among constituents and key players. "She's doing exactly what her constituents elected her to do and we will continue to support her," said Bridget Taylor, one of half a dozen interviewed for this story.

John Geraldo -- who lives just a few blocks down the road from Rep. Hayes' office in Waterbury -- agrees: "We understand she's now the target of Republicans, but she's our representative and we'll continue to support her, no matter what," he said.

His sentiment accurately reflects this Congressional district's political climate as many in this ethnically diverse city have taken to social media, including Facebook and Twitter, to not only express broad political support for Congresswoman Hayes, but also to castigate Mr. Hyde's apparent lack of qualifications. "His only qualification for the job is a photograph of him and the president," added Geraldo.

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Mithout Gomez is a veteran journalist who's covered local, national and international issues.

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