Senate Republican leader John McKinney endorsed Mark Greenberg’s congressional bid Monday, but Greenberg didn’t return the favor.
McKinney is running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, but Greenberg, while complimentary of McKinney, said he will support the candidate that emerges victorious from the Republican primary. At the moment there are four other Republican candidates considering a run for governor.
Greenberg, who has run for the Republican nomination in the 5th Congressional District for the past two election cycles, said he’s trying to solidify support early to “have a full year with unity” to challenge first-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty.
At the moment Greenberg is the lone Republican challenger, but Dr. William A. Petit said in October that he was weighing a bid for the Republican nomination in the 5th. However, Petit has not filed any paperwork that would make it official.
Less than a year away from Election Day, McKinney, whose late-father Stewart McKinney served Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District, gave Greenberg his endorsement. The announcement took place on the manufacturing floor of Noujaim Tool in Waterbury, which is owned by state Rep. Selim Noujaim.
“It takes the right person running for the right reasons to fix what’s happening in Washington,” McKinney said. “And Mark has that.”
McKinney said Greenberg is the right candidate at the right time, even if he’s not returning the favor and endorsing McKinney’s campaign for higher office. Greenberg lost the 2012 Republican primary by 1,503 votes to former state Sen. Andrew Roraback of Goshen. Roraback, who was the least conservative of the four candidates, lost the General Election to Esty by about 7,461 votes.
When it comes to social issues, McKinney and Greenberg are far apart. But that didn’t bother either of them Monday.
“It’s better to have someone you agree with 80 percent of the time than someone you agree with zero percent of the time,” McKinney said. “We agree on a lot of issues.”
Greenberg concurred that agreement on every issue would be impossible. He said that he doesn’t agree with his wife 100 percent of the time.
One of the issues that divides the two Republicans may be gun control.
Newtown is part of the 5th Congressional District and is part of the district McKinney represents. Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, McKinney supported legislation that helped strengthen Connecticut’s gun regulations.
Greenberg said he doesn’t believe gun laws should be changed at the federal level.
“I’m very, very strong on the constitution as well as fiscal responsibility,” Greenberg said. “I would be very careful about changing laws on the federal level.”
In 2012, Greenberg was perhaps the most conservative of the Republican candidates running for the 5th Congressional District nomination. He won the support of Tea Party groups and he supports raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to at least 69. He would repeal what he called the “Unaffordable Care Act.”
Even though Greenberg didn’t endorse McKinney, he described him as a “strong advocate for sane government in Connecticut.” He added that “any of our gubernatorial candidates is way better than what we have now.”
Greenberg estimated that it will take about $4 million to run a successful campaign against Esty. A wealthy real estate investor, who has spent millions of dollars of his own money on his previous contests, Greenberg declined say exactly how much of his own funds he planned to dedicate to the 2014 campaign.
In 2012, Greenberg loaned his campaign about $1.4 million and came in second. He placed third in the 2010 primary with 28 percent of the vote and spent $1.37 million of his own money.
He said he already has lined up about 175 endorsements from Republican Town Committees and individual Republican state and local lawmakers. He said one of the keys to success in 2014 will be the campaign for city voters.