Christine Stuart photo
State Sen. Sam Caligiuri (Christine Stuart photo)

An underdog in the fundraising race, state Sen. Sam Caligiuri is determined stand apart from his Republican opponents in the U.S. Senate race.

Standing in the atrium of Waterbury City Hall Tuesday morning, Caligiuri talked about how he would change the Washington political system.

“I am committed to changing Washington in ways that career politicians and political insiders simply cannot do,” Caligiuri said.

Just how does he plan on doing that?

He said there’s three things he will do to change “politics as usual,” on Capitol Hill. 

First he would prohibit committee chairs and ranking members from raising Political Action Committee, or PAC, money from industries they regulate. Second, he would ban earmarks. Third he would push for term limits.

The fact that Senators are rewarded with chairmanships just because they’ve been there the longest defies logic, he said. He said the system should be based on merit.

The institutional knowledge lost by imposing term limits on Congressmen should reside with the full-time staff, he said. Since states cannot impose term limits on members of Congress it’s up to members of Congress to address this issue. He said he supports two terms for Senators and four terms for U.S. Representatives.

“Unless we change the political system in Washington we will not be able to do what the people of Connecticut desperately need us to do and want us to do,” Caligiuri said. “We need turnover in government. We need fresh ideas.”

Former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, one of Caligiuri’s Republican opponents in the race against U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, has embraced similar reforms. He has said he would push to ban contributions to committee leaders from the industries they oversee and would require members of Congress to disclose their mortgages.

But Caligiuri isn’t impressed. In fact, he said he was surprised with Simmons’ reversal last week on two issues that he had supported while he was a member of Congress.

“He said that he realized he was wrong on those two issues because when he came back home to Connecticut he talked to people and realized it would hurt people in Connecticut. While who the heck was he talking to when he was in Washington for three terms? It was the special interests,” Caligiuri said.

“This race is going to quote ‘heat up’ and we’re going to raise relevant issues when the issues are relevant,” Caligiuri said.

Caligiuri was quick to criticize Simmons earlier this week on his change of heart regarding Cap and Trade and Card Check. It was thought that Caligiuri, Simmons, and former Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley had a gentleman’s agreement not to beat up on each other until after the Republican primary.

“We need someone who is a political outsider, who knows how to make change, but isn’t part of the system that’s been corrupted,” Caligiuri said.