By SHERIDAN CYR
The Republican candidate for the 30th district of the House of Representatives, 22-year-old Steven Baleshiski, dropped out of the race last week after facing wide-spread criticism surrounding opinions posted on Facebook over the course of the last two years. The decision likely leaves his opponent, Democrat Joe Aresimowicz, running for reelection unopposed.
“As you may be aware, Steve Baleshiski has resigned his candidacy for the 30th District House of Representatives, effective immediately,” stated a press release on Friday penned by Southington Republican town Committee chair Steve Kalkowski and Berlin Republican Town Committee chair Anne Reilly. “We had given Mr. Baleshiski time to reflect on his use of extremely inappropriate language regarding several highly charged politically divided topics facing our state and nation, as well as to confer his family and friends regarding his decision.”
The 30th district encompasses portions of Berlin and Southington. Baleshiski was endorsed by both Republican town committees several months ago.
His personal Facebook page, along with a page titled, “Steven’s Political Views” which has since been deleted, were the source of posts criticizing and targeting Muslims, sexual assault victims, gays, transgender, feminists, survivors of the Parkland, Fla. high school shooting, and others.
“I’m not supposed to speak ill of David Hogg because he’s a ‘survivor,’” Baleshiski wrote in a post. Hogg is a Stoneman Douglas High School student who became an advocate for gun control after the Parkland, FL shooting. “Apparently if you’ve survived horrific events, that makes the stupidity spewing out of your mouth above reproach. I disagree. Hogg can burn in hell, I don’t care what he survived. Survivors who wage war on my country are my enemies.”
Baleshiski also stated feminism is “a joke to me,” and in another post, stated, “When I hear ‘male feminist,’ I think, ‘don’t you have any self-respect?’ Apparently not.” He also criticized NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem, the “Me Too” movement, both the Republican and Democratic parties, and other races and religions.
“You’re goddamn right I’m full of hate,” he wrote. “What emotion do you expect me to feel for people who are trying to destroy my country and impose their sick, dystopian will on me and my family? I could pretend to be a white knight and say that I don’t hate them but that would be a lie. I hate them.”
“The Southington and Berlin Republican Town Committees do not, and never will, condone this hurtful and dividing behavior and therefore, we had withdrawn our endorsement of Mr. Baleshiski prior to his resignation,” states the committee chairs in a press release. “Our mission continues to be to fight for the State of Connecticut and to elect Republicans, so that Connecticut can prosper through strong fiscal responsibility.”
According to the 2018 state election calendar in the office of the secretary of the state, Oct. 16 was the final date to file a replacement nomination with the Secretary of the State or the Town Clerk depending on the office.
Although a candidate can withdraw at any time prior to the opening of the polls, if a nominee filed a withdrawal by Oct. 12, the candidate in question can be replaced no later than 21 days prior to the opening of the polls on Election Day (Oct. 16).
“I was shocked that he held such strong beliefs and put them out in the way that he did,” said Aresimowicz. “There were some highly objectionable posts that I found… mortifying, that talk of women who have been victims of sexual abuse, victims of gun violence – I was shocked. I guess if you are a young man who wants to post rants on Facebook, it’s freedom of speech, but I didn’t feel it was the views held by the folks of the 30th district.”
Aresimowicz said Baleshiski did “the right thing” by dropping out of the race.
“Nothing’s going to change for me whether they find [a replacement candidate] or not,” he said on Friday. “We’ve been talking to people since the beginning of August, so whoever decides to come into the race is at a severe disadvantage, with no ability to really raise money, and I have a full three months-plus head-start.”
Aresimowicz said the reception from people in the district has been “great.” “I think the district recognizes the good things I’ve done for both Berlin and Southington over the years,” he said. “Everybody I talk to is in agreement that workforce development and economic development are our number one issues.”
Baleshiski could not be reached for comment.
To comment on this or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.