Former state Republican chairman Tom D'Amore died this week. A close friend of former Governor and Senator Lowell Weicker, he was the campaign manager for most of Weicker 's campaigns.
Speaking on WNPR's Where We Live, Weicker said D'Amore's success centered on his understanding that voters want elected officials to be relevant to their lives. "He understood the demographic that was Connecticut and that had to be addressed politically. Now, today that's just out the window," said Weicker. "The Republican party of Connecticut acts like the national party which is basically a party of the religious right and the rural south."
One of D'Amore's successes came in 1990 when Weicker, then a Republican, was elected governor. D'Amore wasn't initially thrilled with Weicker's decision to run as an independent. He recounted that phone call with D'Amore who asked Weicker, "Are you out of your mind?" Eventually though, D'Amore joined his friend and left the GOP.
"Over the past several years, I've asked Tom to get back into the fray here in Connecticut to run the Republican party and he said, 'No way.' And quite frankly, the results show it," said Weicker.
Weicker also introduced D'Amore to Democrat Ned Lamont who challenged incumbent Senator Joe Lieberman in 2006. D'Amore was an adviser to Lamont's campaign. Despite only getting a crash-course from Tom, Lamont called him a great teacher.
"Tom was the guy with a chuckle and he just kept everything in perspective. Here was a new guy coming up, not that active in the political game and he led me through," said Lamont.
One-month after the 2006 general election, D'Amore took part in a panel discussion at Yale University with other key players from Lamont and Lieberman's campaigns. Lamont's central issue in that race was the war in Iraq.
"The war gets treated as though it’s an issue like local zoning," recounted D'Amore. "Folks, it is a war!"
Tom D'Amore was 72 years old and was the father of six.