Themis Klarides

Position
State Representative - House Minority Leader
District
114th District: Derby, Orange, Woodbridge
Social media
Committees
Legislative Management
Previous Positions
Derby Planning and Zoning Commission, Seymour Board of Finance
Education
B.A., Trinity College; J.D., Quinnipiac University School of Law
Occupation
Attorney in private practice
Public Financing
Yes
Themis Klarides began the 2015 session as the first woman to lead the House Republican caucus, succeeding her high-profile and high-energy friend, Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. of Norwalk. Republicans, who haven't won a majority in three decades, won 64 of 151 House seats in 2014 and 72 in 2016, up from 37 in 2010. A gain of four seats in 2018 would give the GOP the majority for the first time since the Ronald Reagan landslide of 1984.

Klarides, who describes herself as naturally shy, was one of Cafero's key deputies, excelling in the behind-the-scenes work of tracking bills and making deals. Now, by tradition, she gets the second-to-last word in every debate as the House minority leader, should she choose. Shy was not the image that preceded her to the Capitol: she had been a fitness model and worked for World Wrestling Entertainment as a ring girl, a job she held while studying for the bar exam. And she hardly was shy in her first term as minority leader, frequently stepping before the cameras to criticize Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

With the rest of her caucus, Klarides opposed the Democratic governor's $1.5 billion tax increase in 2011, two minimum-wage increases and a state law requiring certain private employers to offer paid sick days. She voted against the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana in 2011 and repeal of the death penalty in 2012.

She voted in 2013 for the passage of the bipartisan gun-control law crafted in response to the shooting deaths of 26 children and staff at Sandy Hook elementary school and the 2016 law requiring gun owners to surrender their firearms within 24 hours of being served with a temporary restraining order in domestic violence cases. The state's largest gun owners' group, the Connecticut Citizens' Defense League, endorsed Rep. Tim Ackert's short-lived effort to unseat her as GOP leader, saying she was insufficiently supportive of their issues.

Earlier in her career, she supported a law requiring gun owners to report stolen guns and hospitals to provide contraceptives to rape victims. Once a supporter of legalizing medical marijuana, she opposed the bill that became law in 2012. Klarides voted in the 2015 special session for two criminal-justice bills that divided her caucus: "An Act Concerning Excessive Use of Force" and Malloy's "Second Chance Society" bill.

Klarides, the granddaughter of a Greek immigrant who began a corner market and daughter of a father who opened two supermarkets, has cast a wary eye at legislation she sees as overly protective of consumers and burdensome to business. She opposed restricting junk foods in schools and requiring restaurants to list calorie counts on menus.

Initially a supporter of Ohio Gov. John Kasich for president in 2016, she embraced Donald J. Trump as it became clear he would become the GOP nominee. She attended a Trump rally in Bridgeport the weekend before the Connecticut primary, which Trump overwhelmingly won, and agreed to become a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, unlike Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven.

Her sister, Nicole Klarides-Ditria, was elected to the House in 2016 from neighboring Seymour.

She lives in Derby.
Election history
Klarides won an open seat in 1998, succeeding Democrat Ellen Scallettar.
Most recent election
Themis Klarides R 8066
Themis Klarides I 927
Aldon M Hynes WF 1569
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