Day three of my annual Walk Across Connecticut began in Rocky Hill. And Matt and Shannon, who are both running for local office in neighboring Cromwell, came to meet me at the start. I thanked them both for stepping up to run — it’s not easy to do (but it’s super important)!
Here’s a recap from the day, which took me through parts of Rocky Hill, Cromwell, Middletown, Middlefield, Durham and Guilford.
In the AM, I chatted with Josh and Joe as they were unloading a truck at the Cromwell company where they work. They got laid off last year, but enhanced unemployment insurance benefits allowed them to survive until they could get hired back. An example of how unemployment insurance helped workers and employers during the pandemic.
Further down the road, I met Bash and his family, who own Newfield Pizza. As immigrants from Kosovo, they are among the millions who fled war zones to make a better life here. We should never forget how much stronger immigrants and refugees make America.
I also had an interesting conversation with Mike, a Trump 2016/Biden 2020 voter. Mike is a lifelong Democrat but felt like the economy was going nowhere and nobody had a good answer on how to deal with China. He knew we couldn’t bring all the jobs back, but we needed a strategy.
He thought electing “a businessman” would help. In 2016, he voted for Trump. But Trump’s bungling of COVID shocked Mike. “He’s up there telling us to inject disinfectant into our bodies!” He decided to give Biden a shot.
He still likes Biden and says he got a raw deal on Afghanistan. “It was becoming another Vietnam,” Mike says. But he doesn’t know where to turn for objective information.
“There’s no Cronkite anymore. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? I don’t know.”
Mike is going to stick with Biden. But he still struggles with where to get the truth about what’s going on. And he wants more common sense in government. More focus on the economy, less focus on divisive issues.
“Biden has a lot of messes to clean up,” he laments.
For lunch, I sat down at Sliders with Middletown Mayor Ben Florsheim. I had the Buffalo Parmesan wings. Wicked good.
Abigail came and walked with me for a mile in Middletown. She is really concerned about the health of LGBTQ+ kids in our schools. I told her it’s an issue I’m paying more and more attention to. I promised to follow up with a plan of action.
As I went through the historic district in Durham, I was walking in the footsteps of George Washington’s marches through Connecticut. If you’ve never visited this part of our state and all its Revolutionary-era homes, you’re missing out.
I ended the day in Durham, where I asked Republican First Selectwoman Laura Francis to bring together a group of parents (Republicans and Democrats) to talk about the challenges facing our kids and parents right now. It was a refreshing, honest conversation.
The key to walking across the state in a week is taking care of your feet. I tape them up every morning, wear anti-blister socks, and keep faith in my trusty 12 year old Nike Alfords.
But the real thing that keeps me going is the amazing people I meet along the way. They make it all worth it.
Day four (the homestretch!) starts tomorrow.