Contributed photo
Shannon Kula (Contributed photo)

HARTFORD, CT — A domain name for her campaign website was registered nine days ago and with that Shannon Kula became a potential third candidate on the Democratic side in the race for U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty’s seat.

Kula, 43, who was the chief of staff for U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland for 13 years before the Senator retired, announced Wednesday that she’s seeking to petition her way onto the Democratic primary ballot in the 5th Congressional District.

Kula is also a cancer survivor and a retired military spouse.

“I believe I have the experience and perspective to make a difference for everyday families and that’s why I’m running for Congress,” Kula said.  “My own life experience — growing up in Connecticut and being the first in my family to attend college, as a military spouse, and then fighting my own battle with breast cancer — has really given me a deep understanding of the struggles so many families face in our community. And my years in the U.S. Congress have given me the experience to go there and actually get something done for the people of the 5th District to bring about the change that families so badly need.”

Kula will need to collect 2,711 signatures from registered Democratic voters in the 41 towns in the district in order to qualify for the Aug. 14 ballot.

Former Simsbury First Selectwoman Mary Glassman and Waterbury teacher Jahana Hayes both automatically qualified for ballot access through the convention process.

On the Republican side, former Meriden Mayor Manny Santos, Ruby O’Neill, a retired psychology professor from Southbury, and Rich DuPont, a manufacturing consultant from Watertown, will be on the Republican primary ballot having received access through the convention process. John Pistone is also petitioning for a place on the Republican ballot.

Esty decided not to seek re-election following her handling of allegations about her chief of staff’s conduct with a former staffer, including threats, harassment, and assault.