Justin Bernier

by Christopher O'Brien

Justin Bernier

Biography

37 year old Justin Bernier is the oldest in a family of 9 children. He grew up in Farmington and is an Eagle Scout later attending Fordham University. He earned a master’s degree in International Security and Economic Policy from the University of Maryland and a second degree in Int’l Relations from Georgetown Univerisity.  He lives with his wife Jennie and two daughters in Plainville. They attend St. Patrick’s Church in Farmington.

Bernier’s earlier career was serving as a senior legislative aide to then Congressman Rob Simmons. A Congressional newspaper noted that Bernier “fought doggedly and successfully to save the New London Submarine Base”.  He proved that there would be no governmental savings, and that the sub base’s closure would instead cause 30,000 jobs and the state would lose $1.5 billion in economic activity.

After 9/11, Bernier joined the US Navy a reserve intelligence officer and volunteered for duty in Afghanistan in 2007. Upon returning to Connecticut, Governor Rell appointed Justin to Executive Director of the Office of Military Affairs, assisting veterans and their families and also – again – preventing the closure of defense facilities.

Issues:

Cut spending, Audit Federal Reserve and take other steps to strengthen the dollar, Repeal and Replace Obamacare, Reduce business tax from 35% to 10% to “Make America a tax haven”, increase exports, lower taxes on savings and investments, reduce energy costs,  find policies that would reduce the cost of college tuition.

Pro-life, and says that the US needs to better promote adoption and incentives to reduce abortions. He says that pro-choice groups like NARAL have too much influence in preventing compromises that could reduce abortions in America before Roe v. Wade can be reversed. He tells the Torrington Register Citizen:

“I believe that there is a tremendous amount of common ground between almost all Americans on abortion,” he said.

For example, he believes 95 percent of people would be against federal taxpayer funding of abortion, and 95 percent would be against late-term abortions. He thinks there is wide support for parental notification laws, and not requiring religious hospitals to perform them.”

He favors the repeal of don’t ask/ don’t tell and supports civil union, but not gay marriage. He believes these issues should be left to the states.

Justin Bernier has stated that he would not take a Congressional pension.

Bernier has suggested that he would not go along with past Republican tax proposals that he views are short term and only assist the economy temporarily.

 

Fundraising

Campaigning for Congress can’t be done on nickles and dimes. Bernier’s fundraising has kept up with and in the last reporting period, exceeded donations given to Roraback’s campaign. Bernier is the least wealthy of the four candidates and has been heavily dependent upon small contributions. His campaign says they have had over 3,000 donors with the average donation under $100.

He has attacked Mark Greenberg, stating that “no self funder has ever won an election in Connecticut.”

 

The Race

Justin Bernier has largely ran a publicly positive campaign. His first commercial was an introduction to voters, and his second one emphasized his pro-life beliefs to contrast himself with Andrew Roraback’s pro-choice views. Bernier’s mailers have also simply stated contrasts using charts between himself, Roraback, and Wilson-Foley without accusation. He has avoided saying anything negative towards Mark Greenberg because their views on fiscal issues and abortion are identical.

During debates however, Bernier was unquestionably the fiercest debater. When Lisa Wilson-Foley tried to clarify that she owns a physical therapy business and her husband owns Apple Rehab, Bernier interjected saying “but we’ve been hearing for two full years that you are the spokesperson for Apple Rehab.” Bernier has stayed largely silent on Rowland’s involvement in her campaign however, leaving that to other candidates to fight.

Bernier has consistently attempted to draw contrasts between himself and Andrew Roraback, particularly on mandates. He backed Roraback into a linguistic corner when he asked if Roraback would support abortions intended to favor a particular gender. He also singled out Roraback pronouncements that avoided a stand on whether or not religious institutions should be exempt from federal mandates on healthcare reform.

In 2010, he was the runner up to Sam Caligiuri who later lost his bid for US Congress against Chris Murphy. Bernier won 32% of the vote in the primary. Caligiuri went on but was only able to muster 46% in the November general election.

Sources: campaign website, Register-Citizen interview, Brookfield debate, SOTS website, various interviews

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