Rivals for state Legislature decry sexist remarks about women in politics

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MANCHESTER -- In the final weeks before the election, rhetoric is swirling, from the presidential race to Connecticut's state races.

Now, there's a Connecticut controversy that has local politicians denouncing sexism. This comes after a local leader said a state representative shouldn't be re-elected so she can be with her family.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Connecticut Democratic state Rep. Kelly Luxenberg and her supporters shot down what they consider sexist comments made by the GOP town chair in Manchester.

In a letter to the Journal Inquirer, Republican chairman John Deep reviewed local candidates. On Luxenberg's quest for reelection, he said her challenger should win. "John Topping wins over Mrs. Luxenberg, so she would be able to stay home with her family," he wrote.

That statement drew outrage at the steps of Cheney Hall in Manchester.

"Not having children, or having children, does not define a woman," Luxenberg said.

Right now, Luxenberg is the proud mother of a 2 1/2-year-old, and first time legislator serving Manchester's 12th District.

"I'm doing the right thing for my family, but also in the role as serving as state representative," Luxenberg said.

Also at the press conference, and in a shock to many, was John Topping, who is Luxenberg's opponent. He showed up to support his rival's right, and the right of all women, to choose their own career path.

"I'm supporting her right to run absolutely, and I'm here because I don't agree with what Mr. Deep said," said Topping.

Luxenberg said the sexist rhetoric is part of a bigger picture affecting national politics. She drew a comparison between herself and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton: "Given the roles that she has held independently of her husband, that she still is based so much on the fact that she is married to Bill Clinton," Luxenberg said.

A college student at the event said she hopes for a future where more women are in political positions and exercise equality

"I'm a young woman, I'm only 20, I don't have children yet, but hopefully whenever I do get a  job and have children there's enough work-life balance," said Emily Luna, who attends UConn.

FOX 61 spoke with Deep on the phone. He said that he didn't mean any disrespect with the comment and apologizes.

Luxenberg said she wants a direct apology.