Christine Stuart photo
Merrick Alpert (Christine Stuart photo)

U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd’s Democratic challenger held a press conference at the state Capitol Monday to remind Democrats that one year from now they will be asked to vote in the Democratic primary.

Merrick Alpert, the Mystic resident who has never held public office before, said one year from today voters will be given a “clear choice” between the “status quo” and “fundamental change.”

“People are looking for a change and they’re not going to tolerate more of the same,” Alpert said.

“People its very clear want a change and what folks are not going to tolerate is the fact that someone takes millions of dollars in special interest money and then turns around and runs commercials telling you they’re not taking millions of dollars in special interest money,” Alpert said.

When asked what the difference between him and Dodd are, Alpert said there are several differences. “First I’m not a career politician,” Alpert said. “Sen. Dodd has been in Washington for longer than Moses and the Israelites wandered in the desert.”

“I think people are ready for a change,” Alpert said.

Secondly, Alpert said he was going to be more liberal than Dodd on everything from gay marriage to Iraq. Alpert, who went to work in 1993 for the National Health Care Campaign, organizing the state of Oklahoma, also said he supports a public health care option.

Alpert said Dodd has overstayed his usefulness, which he opined climaxed with the 1993 passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

“What it becomes about is staying in power for the sole sake of being in power,” Alpert said regarding Dodd’s tenure. “These folks reach their peak, with Sen. Dodd it’s probably the Family and Medical Leave Act,  and then what happens is they become nothing more than staying in office.”

And if elected Alpert would ask for no more than two terms or 12 years, before stepping down. “Twelve years is plenty, then its time to go back to your private sector life,” he said.

Spending most of his time talking to voters, Alpert said he has a sense that Democratic support for Dodd is “soft.” He said once voters meet with him and talk to him those voters “are not in Sen. Dodd’s column.”

Colleen Flanagan, spokeswoman for the Democratic State Central Committee and former Dodd employee, said “I haven’t heard about what he’s running for.” She said she’s heard a lot about what Alpert is running against—mainly Dodd.

“I look forward to hearing what he’s for, not what he’s against,” Flanagan said following Alpert’s press conference Monday, which was attended by just three of his campaign workers. She said Dodd has served the state well and is currently in a position to get so much done in Washington.

At the end of July the Democratic State Central Committee passed a resolution in support of Dodd.

“His seniority in the Senate, his strong relationships with his colleagues and the President, and his success standing up to the Washington special interests on behalf of Connecticut families make him the clear choice in next year’s U.S. Senate race,” Nancy DiNardo, state party chairwoman, has said.

The Republican candidates for Dodd’s senate seat include former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley, and state Sen. Sam Caligiuri of Waterbury.