Some see weak fundraising, visibility hurting Mike Clark’s chances in 5th District
In this Wednesday, June 29, 2011 Mike Clark, former FBI official who is now running for Congress as a Republican in the 5th District attends a ceremony for the opening of a shelter at a bike trail in Farmington, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
By Jordan Fenster, Staff Reporter
With $34,000 raised in the 1st Quarter, some Republicans in Connecticut’s 5th congressional district don’t see Mike Clark’s campaign going very far, though he has pledged to obtain the requisite number of signatures to be on a primary ballot, should he not do well at the Republican State Convention in May.
Clark, a former FBI agent and Farmington Town Council chairman, loaned his campaign an additional $100,000 in the 1st Quarter, which explains headlines last week that he had “bounced back” from bad 4th Quarter numbers to raise $134,000.
Clark posted $12,585 raised from individuals in the 4th Quarter, about one-10th of the amount raised by each of his seven major party competitors for the 5th District.
“I wouldn’t say it’s going great,” Clark said, though he’s “staying in the race.”
Regarding his touting of the $134,000 number without calling out the big loan, Clark said: “It’s still cash in the bank and that’s what the point is. Money is money, and that’s the way I’m looking at it.”
Three of the other Republicans in the 5th District race – Justin Bernier, Andrew Roraback and Lisa Wilson-Foley – have announced 1st Quarter fundraising numbers at three to four times the $34,000 Clark raised. The fourth candidate, Mark Greenberg, is a millionaire who is self-funding his campaign.
“Mike is a great candidate,” Stewart said. “It’s unfortunate that he doesn’t have the popularity behind him that a Lisa Wilson-Foley or an Andrew Roraback does.”
Stewart, also a delegate to the Republican state convention, said she judges a candidate by his or her “visibility in the district” and, by that score, Clark is well behind, she said.
“The odds are against him,” according to Stewart. “I just don’t think that it’s the right time for him.”
Roxbury’s Ron Pizzarelli, also a State Central Committee member and convention delegate, said that Clark’s campaign has suffered, possibly because of the candidate’s performances at some of the debates and forums that have been held.
“He’s a good guy, but for some reason he has not come across,” Pizzarelli said. “On a one-on-one, he’s great. He’s got great credentials, but he didn’t come across.”
The Roxbury RTC chose to endorse Andrew Roraback, but Barbara Henry, Roxbury first selectman and Republican convention delegate, accepted a volunteer position as a Lisa Wilson-Foley campaign co-chairman, along with Canton State Sen. Kevin Witkos and State Rep. Dan Carter, who represents Bethel, Danbury and Redding (“Of all the people who have been helping her, I have probably done the least,” Henry said).
She said Clark is a “very nice gentleman,” and “speaks very well,” but hasn’t been as much of a presence in her neck of the woods.
“I don’t know that he’s gotten out of his comfort zone, and by that I mean the Farmington Valley,” she said. “I haven’t heard a lot about him in the Northwest Corner.”
Pizzarelli has decided to cast a vote for Mark Greenberg at the convention, despite his RTC’s endorsement of Roraback.
“Everyone in the 5th is looking for a winner,” he said. “Mike came down at the bottom of the list.”