George Jepsen defends Elizabeth Esty, calling attacks ‘cheap shots’
By Jordan Fenster, Staff Reporter
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said Friday that recent attacks on Elizabeth Esty by 5th District Congress Democratic primary opponents Chris Donovan and Dan Roberti attempting to portray her as “not a real Democrat” are unfounded and “cheap shots.”
Jepsen said Esty embodies “core Democratic values.”
“I’m not endorsing anybody,” Jepsen said, but he and Esty have a long history, and he wanted to make his feelings regarding her progressive values known.
“I know her for more than 30 years,” Jepsen said of Esty, when he was in law school and she was an undergraduate student, both at Harvard University.
“She has very strong values that I think reflect the mainstream of the Democratic Party,” he said.
When asked if that meant her opponents were more radically liberal, Jepsen said no.
“I’m not saying Chris Donovan is an outlier at all,” he said.
Jepsen himself has a long history in Connecticut Democratic politics. He took office as attorney general in January 2011, but before that he was a state representative from Stamford, first elected in 1987, a state senator representing Stamford and Darien from 1990 to 2003 (during which period he served as Senate Majority Leader), was the 2002 Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor and Democratic State Party chairman from 2003 to 2005.
Jepsen and Donovan stood side-by-side in support of Ned Lamont in his successful from-the-left primary challenge of Sen. Joe Lieberman in 2006.
When asked about Esty’s support of what Donovan has labeled a “Republican-like budget” in 2009, Jepsen said “every budget vote is a compromise to some degree.”
“She represented one of the most conservative Republican districts to be held by a Democrat,” Jepsen said. “Budget votes need to reflect the reality of the district you’re representing. She needed to reflect in some measure the wishes of her constituents.”
In fact, Jepsen believes the differences between the 5th District Democratic hopefuls, at least as far as the depth of their commitments to Democratic values, is not as stark as primary watchers might think.
The contentiousness of the race, and the high level of funding “serves to magnify” what differences that are between the candidates, he said.