New GOP chair is young, but party says he’s got what it takes

Matt Gaynor, at age 20, was admittedly on the young side when he ran for the state Senate in 2014, prompting him to say, “If people promise not to bring up my age, I’ll promise to never be this age again.”

He didn’t win that election, but he did keep his word.

“Yes, true to my campaign promise, I am not that young anymore,” he said.

Gaynor is still on the young side, politically speaking. As Milford’s new Republican Town Committee chairman, Gaynor, 23, is the youngest Milford RTC chairman and the youngest in the state, and he’s ready to lead Milford’s Republican Party into the upcoming election season.

Gaynor took on the chairmanship in January, replacing Paul Beckwith, who stepped down when he moved to Orange.

“The Milford Republican Town Committee made a great choice in electing Matt Gaynor as its new chairman,” Beckwith said about his successor. “Matt brings a youthful enthusiasm and energy to the role as chairman of the party that will only help attract new faces and ideas to our party. He is an extremely intelligent man who is on top of the difficult issues facing Milford and the state.”

Gaynor studied economics at Central Connecticut State University, and works today as a representative for an electrical manufacturing company.

This young politician did not support the GOP’s choice for president during the presidential election, and that raised a few eyebrows among Republicans. But Gaynor said his decision not to support Trump does not change the fact that he represents Republican ideals.

“Trump is by far the most polarizing figure in American politics,” Gaynor said. “The RTC, like most groups, is divided. Being a local party we are focused almost exclusively on Milford and Connecticut. The unifier for us is the atrocious way the Democrats have run this state for the last few decades. The Democrats have been in control of the legislature with a near unbroken streak since 1980. There is no doubt in my mind that some people in our party would fall on the left side of the spectrum but cannot abide the way the Democrats have run Connecticut.”

When Gaynor ran for state office in 2014, his campaign focused on making Connecticut more affordable for everyone, especially senior citizens.

“Connecticut is first in everything we should be last in and last in everything we should be first in,” Gaynor said more than two years ago, on the night that his party backed him for the campaign. “If you breathe in Connecticut, you can feel the overbearing and overtaxing state government.”

He said he wanted to bring down the state debt, lower taxes and spur economic growth while focusing on educational reforms and returning authority to local boards of education.

Gaynor’s goal as the November election draws closer is to get a majority on the Board of Aldermen.

“The board has become a rubber stamp for the mayor,” Gaynor said. “The passing of [last] week’s budget illustrates that. The budget vote was moved for a reason that does not add up. The budget is also not set in stone. The state has not determined how much funding will be cut.

“The board should have delayed the vote to its original date, then pushed for clarity from our delegation and mayor on state funding cuts,” Gaynor said.

The new GOP chairman’s political role model, he said, is Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

“His combination of humor, passion and intelligence are qualities I think all elected officials should emulate,” Gaynor said.

While Gaynor is new to town committee leadership, his counterpart on the other side of the political aisle, Rich Smith, has been Democratic Town Committee chairman for a number of years. During that time, he has traded barbs often enough with the Milford GOP leader.

But for now, as campaigning for the November election is still in the early stages, Smith had only kind words for the new GOP leader.

“I know Matt and I have known his family all my life,” Smith said. “I can see his house from mine.”

Smith said he thinks Gaynor was an “excellent choice” for the Republicans.

“He brings a calm and thoughtful approach to issues that will serve both the Republican Party and Milford well,” Smith said. “I have been impressed, time and again, with Matt. Having served with many Republican chairs over the past 13 years, I believe Matt to be among their best.”

Beckwith predicted that Gaynor’s skills will make him a successful party leader.

“In 2014 Matt ran for state Senate at the age of 20,” Beckwith said. “His organization skills, attention to details, and knowledge of the issues not only impressed the membership of the RTC, the voters also took notice of Matt as he received over 45% of the vote.

“I am confident Matt is going to do a great job and will work hard to recruit good candidates who will continue in the Republican tradition of putting the people of Milford first,” Beckwith added.