Cuban-born Leora Levy, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, beat predictions by defeating her moderate Republican opponent, Themis Klarides, in Connecticut’s GOP Senate primary on Tuesday.
Ms. Levy was declared the winner with about 88% of the vote counted. She had won 50.5% of the vote, defeating Ms. Klarides, who had garnered 40%. A third candidate, Peter Lumaj, took the other 9.6% of the vote.
Ms. Levy won the race despite Ms. Klarides having the backing of the state’s GOP establishment. Ms. Klarides, the former Republican leader in the state legislature, is a party moderate and supports abortion access, breaking from more conservative Republicans who oppose the procedure.
“Today, voters across Connecticut sent a clear message that they are ready for a political outsider to fight for the families, taxpayers, small businesses and the hardworking people of our great state,” Ms. Levy said in a statement.
Ms. Levy won Mr. Trump’s endorsement in July, shaking up the race just weeks ahead of the primary.
Ms. Klarides has said she did not vote for Mr. Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
Ms. Levy, 65, now faces incumbent Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, 76, on the November ballot.
The race has attracted interest despite the state’s long history of electing Democrats to the Senate — when it last had a Republican senator, the Soviet Union still existed.
Mr. Blumenthal, who first won his seat in 2010, has shown vulnerability in recent polling.
A May 26 Quinnipiac University poll showed Mr. Blumenthal with a 45% approval rating, his lowest score since taking office in 2011.
Quinnipiac found Mr. Blumenthal in even worse shape with critical independent voters. Among those surveyed, only 41% said they approved of Mr. Blumenthal while 44% disapproved.
Ms. Levy’s statement blamed Mr. Blumenthal on a score of issues.
“Forty-year high inflation, record gas prices, failing energy policies, an invasion at our southern border, an assault on parental rights, and general lawlessness in our communities - these are the issues caused by Democrats’ out-of-touch policies, supported by Blumenthal every step of the way. Connecticut is ready for new leadership,” she said.