Could Northwest Corner split ticket between Roraback and Murphy?
By Jordan Fenster, Staff Reporter
Could voters in Connecticut’s Northwest Corner split the ticket, voting for Republican Andrew Roraback in for the 5th District congressional seat and Democrat Chris Murphy for U.S. Senate?
The district has a higher ratio of Republicans to Democrats than any other congressional district in Connecticut, and voters in the 5th District over the last few elections have not overwhelmingly voted for one party over another.
In 2008, fewer voters in the 5th District chose Barack Obama over John McCain than in other Connecticut districts. Litchfield County, which comprises much of the 5th District, voted for Obama by a margin of 52 percent, to 47 percent for McCain.
In 2010, when Gov. Dannel P. Malloy beat Republican Tom Foley, he did so without much help from the 5th District: Voters in Litchfield County backed Foley.
Murphy, the outgoing 5th District congressional representative, took the office away from longtime Republican incumbent Nancy Johnson in 2006 by a margin of 27,000 votes. In the next election, in 2008, Murphy beat Republican David Cappiello by more than double that margin, but in 2010, Sam Caligiuri came within 16,000 votes of winning.
Roraback has also won his district by wide margins. In 2006 and 2008, he won by two-to-one margins against the Democratic candidate. In 2010, no Democrat ran, but the Working Families Party candidate garnered only 3,875 votes.
What it comes down to this year, is who you know and how you know them, according to some voters in the 5th District.
Raymond R. Oneglia, vice president of Torrington’s O&G Industries, is for the first time in his life, on two political committees — those of Roraback and Murphy.
His support for Roraback is familial in nature: Their grandfathers knew each other.
“The Rorabacks and the Oneglia family have been friends for over 50 years,” he said.
His support for Murphy is more based in policy. As a representative of O&G, one of the state’s more prominent construction companies, employing about 1,000 workers in the state, he is very interested in infrastructure.
When Murphy came to talk to the Connecticut Construction Industries Association, Oneglia said “Chris answered all the questions right.”
“They felt he would do more for our industry than his opponent,” he said.
John Logan, a Torrington attorney who now lives in Avon. He is a Democratic Town Committee member in Avon and former town committee chairman in Torrington. He has also donated to the Roraback campaign.
Logan said he’s “known Andrew for well over 20 years,” and supports him despite the fact his own beliefs align slightly more with Democrat Elizabeth Esty than with the Republican.
“I don’t know Elizabeth Esty,” he said. “I suspect, if I did a comparative analysis, I would be as closely aligned with Elizabeth Esty’s positions as I am with Andrew Roraback’s positions.”
For Logan, it’s not just about being familiar with a candidate, it’s also about who he knows the candidate to be, he said.
“It’s a familiarity borne of respect,” he said. “It’s not because he’s my neighbor. I’ve had neighbors I would never vote for.”
Logan said Roraback has shown himself, over the nearly 20 years the Republican has represented the Northwest Corner in Hartford, to be someone who works across the aisle.
“Our nation is polarized,” he said. “It’s going to take individuals like me who are partisan to walk away from our partisan principles.”
When asked if voters in the Northwest Corner would vote for Roraback and Murphy simply because they’ve grown used to voting for Roraback and Murphy, Logan said yes, but what matters is why they’ve become accustomed to voting that way.
“The reason people have gotten used to voting for Andrew Roraback is because of what Andrew Roraback has brought to the table,” he said.