Tastie Fish met with Dr. Johnathan Wharton at our offices this morning.
Dr. Wharton is a graduate both of Howard University, and Rugters
Dr Wharton has a vast political resume, and is currently a political science professor at Southern Connecticut State University where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on politics, public policy, and government.
A published author, Dr Wharton worked for years on Capitol Hill, and has stepped forward to lead the local republican party.
The sitting GOP chairman of New Haven discussed the progress of organization, and what a Donald Trump Presidency will mean for city, and the state.
This is a Tastie Fish Exclusive
TF: Could you tell us a little bit about your organization, and what you guys do?
JW: We are from scratch. It has been about a year since I have been a chairman. I pushed for the platform, the website, because we didn’t have one. We have been better about getting recognition on social media, Twitter, Facebook and what not. I suggested a strategy in terms of our presence being know here in New Haven, which was to get citizens appointed to commissions and boards. We have had a few appointments in the last year, a few commissions. I am hopeful of trying to find some candidates to run for some Alder races this year. I have also suggested we do fundraisers, we need to raise money. Beyond upping our profile locally, we need to find a way of fundraising. We have had some successful fundraisers, we had almost 70 people show up last summer for an event, raised a couple thousand dollars, did another event in December, raised some more money. We will do another fund raiser in the spring.
We have been partnering with other Republican committees in Connecticut .
TF: How would you you describe the divide in the conservative party between the Reaganites and the Trump supporters?
JW: This is the dynamic of party politics. we see the same thing with the Democrats. It’s more about who’s is leading. The Trump supporters are leading, it’s not the Reagan Republicans of the 80’s, which I am more familiar with. I worked with Chris Shays back in the 90’s and they are not the same. Shays and others in the Republican party tend to be more centered.
TF: How do you feel about the President Trump?
JW: He has gone through, and attempted to push for everything he promised. Have to give him credit for that. The rate of speed he is attempting to address his platform initiatives , he is doing it so rapidly. Whether you agree with him or not. How many politicians can say that?
TF: How do you feel about stance on immigration and the executive order? How you feel it will affect New Haven?
JW: What we have said publicly, is that it remains the federal government’s responsibility to maintain immigration policies. There is very little a local government can do, particularly our committee. As much as our city wants to put together a set of policies, immigration is a federal initiative
TF: Yesterday State Senator Mae Flexer told us that a repeal of Obama Care could adversely affect certain Connecticut residents. People with preexisting conditions, women’s health care programs. How do you feel about that?
JW: This is not surprising, this is something Trump ran on. He said he would do away with the ACA. That’s an area that is again is a federal policy inactive. I think it’s a concern, I think Congress recognizes that they need to find a way to address the possibility of a gap period. You cannot address something, without addressing everything else. I worked for years on capitol hill, typically you replace one policy with another set policy. I cannot imagine this will be any different.
TF: How do you feel Mayor Toni Harp has been in regards to your committee?
JW: It’s interesting, she has been supportive of our nominations for our commissions’ and boards. The charter of the city requires that there is not only one party on the commissions, and boards. She has been supportive. Sometimes it would take years for these nominations to go through, but she has helped.
We are pleased with the cities financial status, we still have concerns about the possibility of tax increases. The mill rate increasing, things like that. We are also concerned about municipal aide being cut, and what that might mean for tax increases in cities like New Haven.
TF: Does your committee currently have anyone in place to run for the board of Alders this fall?
JW: We don’t have anyone officially yet, we are still working that out. hopefully we will know by April, or May
TF: Do you believe Connecticut can become a red state?
JW: I think any state can be a red state, look what happened in Massachusetts with their Governor race. I think any state can become Republican. We do see pockets in Connecticut of Republican victories. I am talking about the state and local level. Look at the valley, you look at places like Farmington and Avon and the the eastern side of the state, they’re are places where it’s Republican.
TF: With a Republican President and house in place, what does your committee do in advance of the midterm elections?
JW: Congressional races will have to come down to turnout. As we have seen in previous midterm elections, Republicans generally win seats, because Democrats largely do not vote. Many independents and unaffiliated voters support Republican for congress.
TF: Do you desire public office?
JW: Not at all, I stepped into this position because my predecessor (Richter Elser) who was in it for years, had to move out of state. The committee was trying to find a candidate and I stepped up because I wanted to help out. A part of it was I am four generation Republican, it goes back to my grandmother, and her affinity to the Republican party. My mother’s side of the family is from the midwest, and Texas. Paul Bass pokes fun at me, tells me that I am a throw back, I think many Americans tend to ignore the historical ties that political parties have in history. I think sometimes we ignore the African American perspective in that regard.
For me I wanted to contribute back.
JW: How do you feel about the negative stigmas that conservative African Americans sometimes have to put up with?
TF: It’s a concern. It has always been a concern. Unfortunately many, particularly in the press, tend to treat voters as a monolith, Voters are more nuanced. There is complex issues, and complex reasons for why voters vote the way they vote. Think about all these Obama supporters that went for Trump, and not Hillary.