HARTFORD, CT — (Updated Tuesday 9:30 a.m.) There are 41 cities and towns in the 5th Congressional District and U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty’s announcement that she wouldn’t seek re-election this fall set off a scramble today among potential candidates in both parties.
On the Democratic side, state Rep. Michelle Cook of Torrington is “exploring the potential,” while Rep. Liz Linehan of Cheshire is not interested. Former Simsbury First Selectman Mary Glassman is expressing an interest, according to the CT Mirror. This past weekend Dan Roberti of Kent, who ran against Esty in 2012 in the Democratic primary, said he wouldn’t primary Esty. But now that she is not running he may reconsider.
There are more unaffiliated voters than Republicans or Democrats in the district, which last elected a Republican in 2006.
It’s the most Republican of Connecticut’s five Congressional districts. There are only four big cities — Danbury, Meriden, New Britain, and Waterbury — which tend to lean Democratic.
Esty first won the seat in 2012 after defeating Andrew Roraback by just 3 percentage points. She easily defeated Mark Greenberg in 2014 and Clay Cope in 2016.
This year, Republicans who have filed paperwork and are running for the seat include former Meriden Mayor Manny Santos and Craig Diangelo of New Britain.
New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart, who is running for governor, said she’s flattered to receive so many phone calls encouraging her to run for Congress. “There is no question that it would be a less cluttered path to nomination, but what people still don’t understand is that I’m a woman who knows what she wants,” Stewart said. “I continue to firmly believe that my experience, skill and positive vision are what we need in the governor’s office and I am fully committed to making that a reality.”
Stewart only announced her candidacy in January and has already raised more than $105,000 for the effort.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who is also running for governor, did not respond to requests for comment about a potential run for Congress.
Republican Party Chairman JR Romano said Boughton is not interested in the Congressional seat.
The conventional wisdom is if Republicans were able to hold their own in one of the four cities and win the rest of the towns, then they could win back the seat. The last time Republicans held a seat in the district was 2006. That was the year when then-state Senator Chris Murphy defeated Nancy Johnson in one of the biggest upsets of that year. Murphy is now a United States Senator from Connecticut.