SOUTHINGTON — Democratic state Rep. Liz Linehan, a candidate for lieutenant governor, is starting her fundraising with a showing of the newest “Star Wars” movie on Dec. 15.
Linehan said she wanted a fun and non-conventional way to begin raising campaign money.
“I’ve always said I’m a different kind of candidate,” she said. “It’s a good way to rally the community and have some fun at the same time.”
Linehan is running with Dan Drew, a Democratic Middletown mayor and gubernatorial candidate. The two are renting theaters in Southington and Middletown for the showings. Linehan's 103rd District includes portions of Cheshire, Southington and Wallingford.
The campaign rented theater two at AMC Starplex on 1821 Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike in Southington. Tickets range from $25 to $100 with larger donations including drinks, candy and popcorn.
The Friday showing of the latest “Star Wars” offering“The Last Jedi” will begin at 7 p.m.
A movie showing, rather than fundraising dinner or other more traditional event, might attract a younger group of supporters who Linehan hopes to reach with the campaign’s message of free higher education.
Drew named Linehan as his running mate earlier this year. During their announcement, the two outlined a platform that included tuition-free public higher education, tax code reform, closing the achievement gap, legalized marijuana and abortion rights.
“This is a great way to get those people in a fun setting,” Linehan said. “Talking about tax structure isn’t always the most fun.”
Drew and Linehan are looking to raise the money needed to participate in the publicly-funded Citizens Election Program. Thus far they’ve been focused on getting out their message, Linehan said. They’d announced their team earlier than most.
In 2014, candidates for governor needed to raise $250,000 in qualifying funds to become eligible for a campaign finance grant, while those running for lieutenant governor needed to collect $75,000 in donations. In April, state Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington, filed to run for lieutenant governor, but hasn't joined a ticket. He represents Cheshire, Prospect, Southington, Wolcott and Waterbury in the 16th District.
Markley said he’s raised about $72,000 thus far through events “of a more typical type,” but said the movie fundraiser was an interesting idea. He hopes to be through fundraising soon and focus on building a grassroots organization, which he said is the “fun part.”
Hearing about Linehan’s movie showing got him thinking about what movie he might show. Markley said he might have picked something politically related such as Citizen Cane.
Markley said he began his lieutenant governor run early to get ahead of any other potential candidates and to be the top pick for running mate to the Republican gubernatorial nominee, who’ll be chosen by next summer.
Scott McLean, chairman of Quinnipiac University’s political science department, said this is the first he’s ever heard of a movie-showing as a political fundraiser. “It really is just a great idea to try something different and have a lot of fun,” he said.
“This might be a sign of future things,” McLean added. “The Democrats are certainly trying to paint themselves as a younger party but I think the Republicans are too. They’re competing for those millennial and under-30 voters. They need those voters for their future.”