State Rep. William Tong, D-Stamford, launched his long shot bid for U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s seat Sunday on WFSB’s “Face the State.“
Tong, 38, is currently serving his third term in the state House of Representatives. The Stamford Democrat will face U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy and former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz in a Democratic primary for the seat.
Tong spent his time talking to WFSB’s Dennis House about why he wants to run for the seat and why he wants to be a U.S. Senator.
Tong told House he wants to be a “bridge” and end the political rancor in Washington D.C. He likened himself to former U.S. Sen. Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts who was a social liberal and economic moderate.
“I’d like to think I can be as effective as he was,” Tong said.
When he was weighing a race for the U.S. Senate, Tong said he harkened back to his humble upbringing in a Chinese restaurant his father ran in the Hartford area.
“We had this confidence. We had this certainty that if we just worked hard, stuck together that we could make it,” Tong said. “For the first time in my life recently I’ve heard people say that they don’t believe that anymore. That they don’t believe they can do better for themselves and their families and their children. I’m running because I can prove that they can.”
“The American dream is still alive,” Tong said.
As the first Asian-American elected to the General Assembly, Tong said his is an unlikely story. “I know that the American dream is possible, we have to fight for it,” he said.
While he is considered a long shot his candidacy will be perceived as historic, since no one except white males have represented the state of Connecticut in the U.S. Senate.
In an interview back in March Tong said he believes his compelling personal story will catapult his candidacy even though Democratic insiders say he’s not liberal enough to win a Democratic primary.
Tong knows it will be an uphill battle to run a statewide race, but he said he’s up to the task.
“People in the Connecticut Democratic Party want somebody who is new and exciting and somebody who has a balanced legislative agenda,” Tong told CTNewsjunkie back in March.
As a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School where one of his professors was President Barack Obama, Tong recalled how Obama was not the frontrunner in either his U.S. Senate race or the presidential campaign.
“To know somebody like that and to have a political example like that, a barrier breaker, is tremendously inspiring,” Tong told House. “This field is a formidable one. It’s going to be a tough fight, but if I was afraid of tough fights I wouldn’t be sitting here right now.”
Tong, who has seriously been considering jumping into the race since January when Lieberman another one of his political mentors announced his retirement, has already hired some staffers to work on the campaign.
Jim Jordan, who worked U.S. Sen. John Kerry, was hired to manage the campaign and Jimmy Siegel, who has worked for both Eliot Spitzer and Hillary Clinton, was hired as his communications director.