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ANALYSIS: Where’s the Fight in the Fightin’ Fifth? Few Jumping to Fill Esty’s Seat.

April 20, 2018 By Staff
ANALYSIS: Where’s the Fight in the Fightin’ Fifth? Few Jumping to Fill Esty’s Seat.

Weeks after Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) announced her retirement following a harassment scandal, there are only two major candidates in the race.

Several weeks ago, Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) announced she will retire instead of running for reelection, in the wake of a scandal that involved her abusive ex-chief of staff.

Connecticut’s Fifth Congressional District is the state’s most competitive, and even pre-scandal Esty only won her first and second elections by a few points.

But in the weeks since Esty’s retirement, more elected officials have passed on a run than have jumped in.

The list of officials passing on a run at the ‘Fightin’ Fifth’ includes:

  • Mayor Mark Boughton (R-Danbury), who’s committed to running for governor
  • Mayor Erin Stewart (R-New Britain), who’s also committed to running for governor
  • State Sen. Kevin Witkos (R-Canton)
  • State Sen. Eric Berthel (R-Watertown), who briefly considered a run
  • Mark Greenberg, the 2014 GOP nominee who’s running for state comptroller instead

The list of officials reportedly still considering, but who have not yet committed, includes:

  • State Rep. William Petit (R-Plainville), considered a top-tier candidate if he jumps in
  • Former Democratic candidate for the district, Dan Roberti
  • Sandy Hook parents Mark Barden and Nicole Hockley, both considering runs as Democrats

That leaves only two candidates currently in the race:

  • Former Mayor Manny Santos (R-Meriden) on the Republican side; he spoke with Reclaim Connecticut earlier this month
  • Former First Selectman Mary Glassman (D-Simsbury) on the Democratic side; she entered the race shortly after Esty’s retirement

The last time this seat was open – 2012, when then-Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) decided to run for U.S. Senate – eight candidates jumped into the race (five Republicans and three Democrats). The primaries were hard-fought, the two most moderate candidates squeaked out victories, and then they went down to the wire in November.

Why isn’t the 2018 race tracking in a similar way? Republicans have a prime pickup opportunity, and Connecticut Democrats need a blue firewall with the governor’s race looking to be a hot contest.

Time will tell if more candidates jump in … but they’re running out of time. The election is less than seven months away.