Christine Stuart photo

Standing on the front lawn of his Waterbury home with his wife and two children, Republican State Sen. Sam S.F. Caligiuri made it official Tuesday and announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

Hoping to unseat U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, who has held the seat for 30 years, Caligiuri touted his lack of experience as a career politician as one of his strongest assets.

“Senator Christopher Dodd has failed us in many ways, but ultimately I’m not running this race to run against Chris Dodd, I’m running for the United States Senate to take us into the future and away from what Chris Dodd has come to represent,” Caligiuri said in his opening remarks. “I’m willing to change Washington in ways career politicians simply cannot do.”

Christine Stuart

Caligiuri was a member of the Waterbury Board of Alderman from 1997 to 2002 and served as the board’s president, as well as acting mayor until January 2002. He is currently in his second term as a state senator and is an attorney with the law firm Day Pitney in Hartford.

Caligiuri, 43, said he was seven years old when Dodd was first elected to office. Caligiuri was 14 years old when Dodd was elected to his first term as US Senator.

While he believes Dodd has lost his way, Caligiuri said he wasn’t going to impugn the integrity of Connecticut’s senior senator.

“I’m going to stay focused on the issues,” Caligiuri said when answering questions from reporters Tuesday.

When asked if he would accept any money from special interests groups or political action committees, Caligiuri said he hasn’t thought about that yet.

And would he have voted for the recent federal stimulus package? Caligiuri said in his opinion the stimulus was not in the best interest of the American people and he would not have voted for it, in its current form. He said he prefers tax cuts over spending.

But before facing Dodd, Caligiuri will have to defeat fellow Republicans, such as former Congressman Rob Simmons who said he would officially be announcing his candidacy in mid-April, and possibly Tom Foley, former Ambassador to Ireland and Greenwich resident, who has expressed interest in challenging Dodd.

What does he think of his possible Republican opponents?

“I think they’re all honorable people who I admire in many respects,” Caligiuri said. “But at the end of the day this race is going to come down to which one of us is in a best position to make life better for the people in this state.”

“The lack of time in government is something that will give me an ability to bring a fresh, independent thinking approach to the job that I think will allow me to stand out above my fellow Republicans who I admire greatly,” Caligiuri said.