Four Republicans and four Democrats are already clamoring for U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy’s vacated 5th Congressional seat this year, but it looks like the race is about to get even more crowded with an announcement expected from state Sen. Andrew Roraback.
Roraback will hold a press conference at Goshen Town Hall Thursday, but he will only say it’s about the 5th Congressional District seat. On Monday during a phone interview he declined to say whether he will announce he’s entering the race or not.
However, sources say it’s unlikely he would call a press conference to announce he’s not running.
Roraback, who has been in the General Assembly for 16 years, filed papers in 2010 to explore a run for attorney general. He ultimately decided against a bid before the Republican convention. At the time he said he wanted to focus his spare time on his young family and being the best state senator he could be to his constituents.
Roraback is the ranking member of the General Assembly’s Environment Committee and Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee.
Roraback, a self-described “New England Republican” and “country lawyer,” would stand in contrast to the four Republicans already vying for the nomination.
None of the four Republicans running for the seat—Mark Greenberg of Litchfield, Justin Bernier of Plainville, Michael Clark of Farmington, and Lisa Wilson-Foley of Simsbury—have legislative experience.
Rorback has been in the General Assembly for 16 years and prides himself on being the only lawmaker who hasn’t missed a vote in all 16 years.
Roraback, whose family history in the General Assembly dates back to 1894 when his great grandfather served, isn’t shy about his socially moderate and fiscally conservative tendencies.
“Voters in Connecticut are a discerning lot and are able to look through party labels at the qualities of an individual candidate,” Roraback said in an interview last year.
A strong advocate for the environment and the preservation of farmland, Roraback voted back in 2009 to abolish the death penalty. The measure was eventually vetoed by former Gov. M. Jodi Rell, but it’s votes like those that could put him at odds with his Republican opponents.
Scott Will, spokesman for Bernier, released a statement Monday alluding to the fact that Roraback is different than other Republican candidates.
“Justin is friendly with Andrew, but they have different positions on many issues that are important to voters. Justin believes that Republicans in the 5th District want to nominate a candidate who will stand for conservative principles when it counts most,” Will said.
The 5th Congressional District is traditionally a swing district, but in the past few elections it has gone to Democrat U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, who announced in January that he’s running for U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman‘s vacated seat.
The district shifted from what appeared to be a Republican stronghold in 2002 and 2004—Litchfield County, which is mostly within the borders of the 5th, was the only Connecticut county to vote for George W. Bush over John Kerry—to a battleground in 2006 and a relatively secure Democratic district in 2008 and 2010, according to CTNewsjunkie columnist and map guru Susan Bigelow.
The district will look different by Nov. 30 because it needs to shed about 400 voters in order to comply with the new Census numbers. It’s uncertain if there’s anything the redistricting committee will do in order to change the make-up of the district.
The Democrats vying for the seat include House Speaker Chris Donovan of Meriden, Elizabeth Esty of Cheshire, Mike Williams of Preston, and Dan Roberti of Kent.