Leaders in the Democratic Party and U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy’s campaign turned up the heat Monday on Susan Bysiewicz to drop out of the U.S. Senate race when they announced that they have the support of the Connecticut Democratic Hispanic Caucus.
The endorsement came less than a week before the state convention where Bysiewicz, the former Secretary of the State, will need to secure 15 percent or 277 delegates in order to force a Democratic primary for retiring U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s seat.
Democratic Party leadership announced their support for Murphy last week when state Rep. William Tong, D-Stamford, dropped his bid and endorsed Murphy.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, as leaders in the party, also put their considerable weight behind the outgoing 5th District congressman.
Yesterday, in what appeared to be a final show of force in sealing up the party’s nomination, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra and the Connecticut Democratic Hispanic Caucus said that Murphy was their man.
Murphy called the endorsement “one of the most important days of this campaign,” probably because the race for the nomination is now all but over.
“If you want to win an election in this state, you need to have the support of the Latino community,” Murphy said.
According to U.S. Census figures, there are 318,000 Latinos over the age of 18 in Connecticut. Tomas Reyes, chairman of the Connecticut Democratic Hispanic Caucus, said the caucus itself has 55 members.
Segarra said that Murphy “has stood side-by-side with me waging many battles that other people would shy away from,” including the fight over marriage equality. Segarra is openly gay.
“Murphy not only talks the talk, but he walks the walk. He has been very supportive of many organizations and programs that benefit our community directly,” Segarra said during a press conference outside Hartford City Hall.
Reyes said he was impressed by Murphy’s performance in a Meriden debate this past Saturday hosted by his caucus and the Spanish-language newspaper La Voz Hispana.
Reyes said Latinos need a Senator “that we can talk to, that understands what we’re saying when we speak to him, and has the knowledge and the ability to go back to Washington and work in trying to enact the programs and the laws and the funding streams that we need for our community.”
Murphy pointed to the influence of the Latino community in various cities around the state — and specifically in his district — calling it a “success story.”
Murphy, who is leading Bysiewicz in the polls and in fundraising, is actively courting the Latino vote. He reiterated his support of the federal DREAM Act, which would provide a path toward citizenship for those undocumented immigrants who graduate from college or go through military service.
Murphy also decried the Department of Homeland Security program known as Secure Communities, which connects data obtained by local law enforcement with federal immigration authorities. The program has come under fire in New Haven in recent months, where city officials have said it would “destroy” trust between residents and police.
“I worry that Secure Communities is not working as it was intended, because there are too many law abiding citizens that are caught up in the web of law enforcement. I want to go back to the drawing board,” he said, adding that the program has increased the “unjustifiable profiling” of Latinos.
He said he would also work toward a comprehensive immigration reform package that “affirms our values.”
Bysiewicz’s campaign manager said Monday that “when Democrats had the opportunity to pass immigration reform, they didn’t do it,” referring to Murphy’s terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Ultimately, this campaign comes down to who will stand up for the middle class and hold Wall Street accountable,” Ducote said, sticking to the campaign’s number one talking point.
“Part of standing up for the middle class is real immigration reform,” he added.
Murphy may lead Bysiewicz in fundraising and a few points in the polls, but the last Quinnipiac University poll in March found that Bysiewicz would beat Republican Linda McMahon. She loses by a percentage point to former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays.