National political attention stays on 5th District Congress race
By Jordan Fenster, Staff Reporter
The race for the 5th District congressional seat received national attention long before the primary was decided, with congressional committees from the Democratic and Republican parties weighing in on the two major party candidates.
The level of attention from those quarters has only increased since the primary, Republicans naming it as one of their top priorities in the Northeast.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has been actively involved in the race since April, when it filed a freedom of information request to obtain records of Andrew Roraback’s decades in the state legislature.
The attacks, however, began in earnest soon after the Aug. 14 primary.
Before the primary, a Democratic Super PAC paid for a television advertisement suggesting Roraback was too liberal — but the morning after the primary the message had changed.
On Aug. 15, the DCCC released a web video calling Roraback a “Tea Party Republican.”
Two days later, another email emerged, the DCCC saying in a release that Roraback “is ready to get his marching orders” from Washington Republicans.
The DCCC followed up with some positive news for Democrat Elizabeth Esty, issuing results of a poll showing Esty over Roraback by nine points and naming her to its “Red to Blue” program.
Then, this week, when former Gov. M. Jodi Rell came out to Danbury to endorse Roraback, the DCCC took one quote, Rell saying she did not find Roraback too hard to control, and generated a release around it.
“This is just one more example of how a vote for Andrew Roraback is a vote for the same Republican extremism that would force seniors to pay more for health care in order to fund tax breaks for companies that outsource American jobs,” Stephen Carter of the DCCC said in the release.
The National Republican Congressional Committee has not been as vocal. Though it did respond to the DCCC’s mid-August web video, it wasn’t until Sept. 6 that results of a poll favoring Roraback, paid for in part by the NRCC, was released.
That’s not to say the NRCC isn’t interested in the race — quite the opposite, according to spokesman Nat Sillin.
Sillin said there are a few congressional races in New England the NRCC sees as “pick-up” opportunities — one on Long Island (currently held by Rep. Tim Bishop), Bill Owens’ seat in upstate New York, Maine’s 2nd District, currently held by Mike Michaud, among several others.
“Certainly this is up there at the top of the list,” Sillin said of the 5th District. “We view this as one of the best pick-up opportunities in the Northeast.”
When asked why the DCCC had focused so much attention — and so much of it negative — on the 5th District race, Sillin said Democrats, too, see it is a viable Republican pick-up opportunity.
“It shows their desperation in this race,” he said. “They’re desperate and they’re scared.”
In response, the DCCC’s Stephen Carter referenced the Rell endorsement, again going on the attack.
“Washington Republicans are as present as ever in Andrew Roraback’s campaign — just take a look at his extreme agenda,” Carter said. “Republicans already said they’re eager to help Roraback because, as Gov. Rell reminded us, Roraback will be easy for Republicans to control.”
Email Jordan Fenster at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jordanfenster. Follow our 5th District coverage on Twitter@5thDistrictCT or Facebook@CT5thDistrict.