New Canaan Democrats gathered at Kiwanis Park on Old Norwalk Road Sunday, Sept. 9, to raise money and enthusiasm for the party's slate of candidates in the upcoming November election.

With the placid pond at Kiwanis Park behind them and the smoke and smells of the grill diffusing through the air, candidates and their supporters spoke about why New Canaan Democrats can -- and must -- win.

Keynote speaker U.S. Sen. Dick Blumenthal emphasized the importance of the nearing elections and the work he felt must be done for Democratic success alongside him in the U.S. Senate.

"Connecticut is a battleground state," he said. "Every day in Washington, I have the frustration of having to deal with an extreme right-wing faction of the Republican Party, unlike what we deal with here in New Canaan," adding that he believes Linda McMahon is part of that faction, which comprises the tea party movement.

Mark Robbins, running for the 125th District seat of the state House of Representatives against Republican candidate Thomas O'Dea, began his speech with a one-liner.

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"I'm a reformed real estate developer," he said, before sharing his policy ideas, which were centered around environmental and energy issues.

Councilwoman Kit Devereaux acted as bartender, doling out red and white wine in clear plastic cups.

Carolanne Curry, running for the 26th state Senate District against incumbent Toni Boucher, spoke of her long-standing belief in Democratic ideals.

"I was baptized a Democrat," she said. "I will vote the Democratic ideals and philosophy as we know them to be."

Dan Dauplaise, who, should he win against the heavily favored Republican incumbent L. Scott Frantz in the state Senate's 36th District, which covers New Canaan west of South Avenue, would be the first Democrat since 1930 to hold that seat. In an interview, he spoke of the need for restrained spending.

"Democrats are now the party of fiscal responsibility," he said. "Connecticut's tax base is unlike any other state's tax base in that we rely heavily on capital gains. So why did we have a $3.8 billion deficit? Because the market crashed."

He added that Connecticut must change its tax formulas away from capital gains in order to ensure fiscal stability.

"We can't sit here and hope the stock market does well so that our revenue comes in."

Robbins sat down for an interview after his speech to explain why he is a Democrat.

"I studied economics at Columbia and I spent a lot of time as an entrepreneur and a businessman, and I came to the conclusion that the principles that the Democratic party represents are the best way to create an educated society, a sustainable infrastructure and a way to free business from uncertainty and be able to plan for a stable future," explaining that those principles include quality public education for all swaths of society, a private health-care system that contains as much of society as possible, a strong, collectively used infrastructure, and a clean and sustainable environment.

There are 2,489 registered Democrats and 6,465 registered Republicans in New Canaan, according to registration records from the office of the Town Clerk.; 203-972-4413