The race in the 5th congressional district was too close to call at 1:30 a.m. and neither U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes nor her Republican challenger, George Logan, were ready to admit defeat. Unofficial numbers showed Hayes holding a lead of less than 4,000 votes with nearly 95% of votes counted.
Logan left supporters around midnight without declaring victory or conceding.
Hayes took the stage at the Courtyard Marriott in Waterbury and addressed her supporters, but fell short of declaring victory.
“Rumors of my demise were greatly exaggerated,” Hayes said. “We are still waiting for more numbers. Cheshire Danbury … and Waterbury … We’re not really sure what these will be but let me just say this … You guys are awesome.”
She also addressed the tone of the campaign.
“My character, my integrity, my humanity, my reputation, my name, my record, my children were attacked in this race. And I stayed above the fray because I knew my record was enough. And I’ll wait patiently for as long as it takes to count every single vote,” Hayes promised her supporters.
Logan, a former state senator and Aquarion water executive, promised to be an independent voice for voters in the district. He dismissed the idea that he would vote in lockstep with his Republican Party.
Throughout the campaign, Logan fashioned himself as a social moderate, but a fiscal conservative on the issues.
“It’s not going to be a landslide,” Logan told his supporters. “It’s going to be by the slimmest of margins.”
The oddly-shaped district stretches from the Northwest Corner as far south as Newtown and as far east as the Farmington Valley. True to its reputation as a swing district, the 5th includes the rural municipalities of Litchfield County, but also ex-urban New Milford, as well as the Waterbury suburbs, many of which lean Republican. In addition to Waterbury, the redrawn 5th also includes the small-to-mid-sized cities of Torrington, Danbury, New Britain, and Meriden, which lean Democratic in voter registration.
Though it has often been cited as Connecticut’s most competitive district, President Joe Biden won the district in 2020 when Hayes was easily re-elected to a second term, defeating Republican David X. Sullivan by more than 9 points.
The addition of those cities is likely why moderate Republican and former state Sen. Andrew Roraback lost a close race for the 5th district seat to Elizabeth Esty 10 years ago. Roraback won 31 of 41 municipalities in the district, but Esty racked up big margins in the aforementioned cities, except for Torrington, where Roraback, who lived in adjacent Goshen, was well known.
State and national Republicans feel they have a realistic shot at taking back the seat, which in one form or another, had mostly been in Republican hands for 26 years until Nancy Johnson was soundly defeated in 2006 by current U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy.
There’s been about $12 million spent on the race. The stakes – control of the House of Representatives.
Earlier in the day, Brandon Moore, of Torrington, talked about why he voted for Hayes.
“She is a phenomenal legislator. As the New York Times recently reported, 70% of Republicans are election deniers. I think it’s important too that legislators uphold their oath like Jahana has,” Moore said. “I also think that following the Dobbs decision, we really need to have legislators who are prioritizing the right to choose and that is something Jahana has championed as well. For a variety of reasons I think she is a phenomenal legislator and a great person to represent Connecticut and that is why I support her.”