When Manny Santos was elected mayor of Meriden in 2013 he broke a 30-year drought for the city’s Republican party.
Now he is hoping to do the same for the state GOP, which hasn’t won a Congressional seat in more than a decade.
Santos is one of three Republicans running for the 5th Congressional District, the seat former U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson held when she was one of two Republicans to lose in the 2006 election. That was the last time the party sent someone from Connecticut to Congress.
“Back (in February) I knew this seat could be won by a Republican, and I felt it important enough to throw my hat in the ring to get Republican representation in Congress from Connecticut,” Santos said.
Santos visited the Record-Journal Friday for an episode of the ‘Morning Record’ podcast.
The GOP-endorsed candidate entered the race before U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty announced she wouldn’t seek re-election amid outage over her handling of complaints of abuse against her former chief of staff.
Since then, Ruby Corby O’Neill and Richard Dupont have also entered the fray. Both secured enough support at the May GOP convention to qualify for the Aug. 14 primary.
Santos said his mayoral win in a Democratic-leaning city should show Republicans that he can get the support needed to win in November.
Should he win, Santos said he wants to address the budget and economy, immigration, and veterans issues.
Santos, born in Portugal, wants to create a path to residency for recipients of Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, or DACA, the Obama-Administration policy that deferred action on undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children.
“This is the only society, the only culture that they’ve grown up in,” he said. “Many of them, I would argue most of them, can be productive people.”
He said he’s not in favor of giving DACA recipients a chance at full citizenship, though, because he’s concerned it would reward entering the country illegally.
Santos said President Donald Trump’s agenda on immigration is a “good one.” He also praised Trump on foreign policy decisions like the recent meeting with North Korea’s leader and backing out of the Iran Nuclear deal.
“I think this president is growing into his role — he hadn’t been a politician before,” he said.
Santos also sided with congressional Republicans on the tax cuts they passed last year, noting it led several corporations to pay a one-time repatriation tax in 2017 in order to take advantage of lower rates in the future.
He praised Republicans for scaling back some of the provisions passed in the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act after the 2008 recession.
Other policy stances include a desire to repeal the Affordable Care Act and to fight against gun control measures. Santos was endorsed by the Connecticut Citizens Defense League.
For more from Santos, listen to the “Morning Record,” the Record-Journal’s daily news podcast, at https://bit.ly/2Nwdphl