Dan Roberti, Justin Bernier confront the Baby Face factor in 5th District race
Dan Roberti, candidate for Connecticut Congress 5th District.
There’s a big age difference between Dan Roberti and Justin Bernier and the other six major party candidates running for Connecticut’s 5th District congressional race, and they hear about it on the campaign trail.
At age 29, Roberti, a Democrat, would be the youngest member of the U.S. House of Representatives if elected. (He’ll be 30 by then.)
Bernier, a Republican, is at the wise, old age of 36, but has such a “baby face” that he can be mistaken for a campaign aide or intern.
“A lot of people think I’m in my 20s,” he said.
Roberti expressed genuine surprise when a reporter told him that he’d be the youngest member of Congress if elected. “I would be the youngest?” he said. “At 30?”
He doesn’t think voters are focused on the age thing at all.
Bernier said he responds by joking about it.
He says his family is trying to help him grow some gray hairs, and he offers to “show them my long-form birth certificate.”
“I think Republicans are tougher on this issue than Democrats,” Bernier said. ”But look at the office holders nationally who are exciting the public. They’re usually 35 to 45.”
He cited South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Congressmen Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
“Those are the guys that everyone is trying to pull into (the presidential race),” he said.
Bernier might be 36, but he’s already run for Congress once, served for a number of years on the staff of the Armed Services Committee and for Congressman Rob Simmons in Congress, and was the state of Connecticut’s military liaison.
Roberti doesn’t have much government experience, but he worked for political guru James Carville and filmmaker Ken Burns, and ran a homeless shelter out in Washington state.
Bernier points out that Chris Murphy is only 38, and already has six years in Congress under his belt and is running for the U.S. Senate.
The next-youngest candidate to Roberti and Bernier in the 5th District race this year is state Sen. Andrew Roraback, who turned 52 last week.