Ken Krayeske, the 38-year-old Hartford resident who is suing the state for allegedly putting him on a “watch list” for his political activities, on Monday narrowly won the Green Party’s endorsement to challenge U.S. Rep. John B. Larson.
Krayeske, a law clerk and longtime journalist, managed Cliff Thornton’s campaign against Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell in 2006. On Monday, he beat Richard Duffee of Stamford by a single vote at the Green Party convention in the basement of the East Hartford Public Library.
In his opening remarks, Krayeske touted his experience managing Thornton’s campaign as he sought to convince the 12 voting members of the Green Party present at the convention to give him their endorsement. He said the most important thing that came out of the 2006 campaign was the protest of Thornton’s exclusion from the gubernatorial debates. But he said that the “ultimate legacy” of the 2006 campaign was the series of events that followed.
In January 2007, Krayeske was arrested while he was standing along Rell’s inaugural parade route taking photographs as a journalist. At the time, Hartford police said they arrested him because his picture was on a watch list distributed by the state police. State prosecutors later dropped the charges.
In May 2007, Krayeske filed a civil rights lawsuit against Rell and the police officers involved. The suit is still pending in federal court.
Krayeske asked Green Party members to vote for him Monday because he believes he can get at least one percent of the vote, which the party needs to preserve the ballot line for subsequent elections.
“We’ve been able to catch lightening in a bottle before,” Krayeske said.
He said he plans on raising $15,000, which is the threshold set by the League of Women Voters for candidates to be included in debates the league sponsors.
As far as national campaign issues are concerned, Krayeske said he wants to end the war in Afghanistan, the war on drugs, and believes it’s sometimes appropriate to scold “our friend” Israel.
Duffee, who joined the Green Party shortly after 2000 and ran unsuccessfully for the 4th Congressional District in 2006 and 2008, said he is concerned about the concentration of wealth in America, the nation’s apparent desire to control the world, and global warming.
Duffee wasn’t too upset about the loss.
“I’m not disappointed. I wanted to make sure we kept the ballot line,” Duffee said. “Politics is abhorrent to me. I would much rather be a private citizen.”
Prior to the vote, a Green Party member asked how the candidates planned to position themselves against Chris Hutchinson, the 27-year-old Hartford teacher running as a Socialist.
Krayeske said he gives Hutchinson a lot of credit for collecting enough signatures to secure a ballot line, but he’s heard Hutchinson doesn’t plan on raising the $5,000 that would require him to form a campaign committee.
“I believe that he’s handicapping himself by not raising money,” Krayeske said. “He’s not going to be able to get the recognition he needs to build his name.”
While there hasn’t been a Socialist on the ballot since the 1960s, Krayeske said the Green Party is on the “cusp of something big.”
“There’s a lot of voter disenfranchisement here that we can tap into,” he said. “I’ve had some high-profile incidents in this state where I’ve been able to stake out very populist positions.”
“I’m hoping we can get 10 to 12 percent and have the best showing of a [Green Party] campaign ever,” Krayeske said.
“Why not win?” Thornton challenged.
“I’d love to win Cliff … I’m trying to be realistic about it,” Krayeske said.
Thornton told Krayeske to keep those thoughts private.
Krayeske will challenge Larson, the fourth highest ranking Democrat in the U.S. House. Ann Brickley is the Republican nominee and Hutchinson is the Socialist in what looks to be a four-way race.
The 1st Congressional District historically has been a Democratic stronghold.
Krayeske said Larson must feel confident about his seat because he’s been holding fundraisers in a lot of other states. A partial list of those is listed at Open Secrets. Chris Barnes, Larson’s campaign manager, said he’s held many more fundraisers in district than the list on the Open Secrets website shows.
The Green Party along with Krayeske will be having a fundraiser 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Red Rock Tavern in Hartford.