BERLIN - Steve Baleshiski, the Republican candidate running against Democratic House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz for state House District 30, wrote in a Facebook post that a Parkland school shooting survivor “can burn in hell,” and made other negative comments about religion and race on his personal Facebook page.
“I’m not supposed to speak ill of David Hogg because he’s a ‘survivor.’ 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 wrote on March 26 on his Facebook page. Hogg was a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Feb. 14 that killed 17. Hogg became an outspoken advocate against gun violence following the tragedy.
On March 12, Baleshiski shared an article from the website dailywire.com with the headline “Dems Say It’s Racist For Trump to Call Maxine Waters Dumb. It’s Not. She Really is Dumb.” Baleshiski wrote on Facebook: “Maxine Waters is dumb as a door nail. I, a white male, think she’s one of the dumbest people alive. Come at me (sic)”.
Waters is an African American U.S. Congresswoman from California and an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump.
On Oct. 5, 2017, Baleshiski, in another post, shared a picture of a woman holding a sign saying “WE ARE ALL MUSLIMS.” With the picture is a caption from Baleshiski that reads, “Here we have a ‘Christian’ who embraces worshiping the Devil.”
The Facebook posts came to the attention of The Herald after an anonymous source sent the screenshots to the newspaper.
When contacted by a reporter Baleshiski said of his comments about Hogg, “That’s just a figure of speech people use when people are frustrated and angry about something. David Hogg became a political activist and he uses tragedy to manipulate into surrendering … rights, and I find that offensive.”
Baleshiski went on to defend his posts.
“These posts in question regarding Islam are about my religious beliefs,” Baleshiski said. “I believe in Christ and I heed his warnings not to be led astray. I’ve always been willing to discuss with people my religious views. Some people agree with me, some people disagree with me.
“I reject the talking point that people who support (President Donald) Trump or agree with Trump are racist,” Baleshiski said, referring to his comments about Waters. Baleshiski said he supports Trump and will vote for him in 2020. “In that post, I am standing up to this use of ‘you’re racist, you’re racist’ as a political tactic to silence people …. Race had already been brought into the discussion.”
The source, from Berlin who is active in local politics, said it was their “civic duty” to share Baleshiski’s personal beliefs with the newspaper. It is unclear if the posts are still online.
Baleshiski, of Southington is a 22-year-old Tunxis Community College student studying political science.
Brian Callahan, the former Southington Republican Town Committee chairman and manager of Baleshiski’s campaign said he believes the exposure of the Facebook posts from Baleshisk are just a distraction from the real issues plaguing the state.
He added he was not aware of the posts at first and once he learned about them asked Baleshiski to explain himself.
Anne Reilly, chairperson of the Berlin Republican Town Committee, said in an email, “I am standing behind Steve Baleshiski as a fiscally oriented conservative who wants the best things for the State of CT and turn it around after the tremendous damage that Joe Aresimowicz and Governor Malloy have caused running the state into the fiscal disaster.”
Aresimowicz told The Herald he was aware of the posts stating: “His views are not representative of the 30th District or the state of Connecticut as a whole. These are reprehensible views against women, various religions other elected officials. If he wanted to be a young man that posts rants on Facebook that’s fine, but not when you’re seeking to represent Berlin and Southington in the Connecticut General Assembly.”
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.