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Murphy Senate Run Clears Way for Republican Brawl in 5th.

Congressman Christopher Murphy’s announcement that he is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate will trigger a rootin’-tootin’ competition for the Republican nomination for the open congressional seat that runs from the western suburbs of Hartford to the New York border.

Among the hopefuls who will be tempted to make the race:

Justin Bernier. The young Navy veteran who grew up in Farmington was a scrappy candidate, proving himself a competitive fundraiser against Caligiuri. He placed a close second in the primary. Party insiders did grow weary of Bernier’s perpetual grievances with the swings and roundabouts of a congressional campaign. Could be squeezed out if Mike Clark (see below) gets into the race.

Mayor Mark Boughton of Danbury.  He made many friends in his races for governor and lieutenant governor last year.  He’d have solid support in the Danbury area, which would mean a lot of delegates and primary votes. Has a formidable fundraising base in Danbury that would give him a fast start.  Will have to decide if he’s going to seek another term as mayor in the fall. He delivered Danbury and its environs for Foley in November.

Former state Senator Sam Caligiuri.  The former Waterbury mayor and Rowland administration official fell far short in his 2010 race against Murphy, but he’s likely to cast himself as the candidate with experience and recognition in the district.  Caligiuri, however, had a tougher than expected time winning his party’s nomination in last August’s primary. He was not as proficient a fundraiser as expected. He lost Waterbury to Murphy, a serious blow to his claim on the nomination this time around.

Mike Clark.  The popular Farmington Republican is serving his third term as the head of the town council.  A retired FBI agent, Clark’s a law enforcement hero who helped collar some notoriously corrupt Connecticut politicians, notably felonious former governor John G. Rowland.  Clark might meet some resistance in the separate universe called Waterbury, but that would help among Republicans with a sense of rectitude in the rest of the far flung district. He knows how to smile while taking down an obstacle. Will be a top tier contender for the party endorsement if he can unite the Farmington Valley delegates behind his bid.

Mark Greenberg.  The Litchfield businessman was a fast closer in the 2010 primary against Caligiuri and Bernier.  He spent a lot of money and has indicated he’d do so again.  He appeared to enjoy his first campaigning and is thought to have been preparing another bid, whether or not Murphy ran for the Senate.

State Senator Rob Kane.  The Deputy Minority Leader from Watertown is in his third term.  He comes from a part of the district laden with Republicans.  He’s an operator with some serious baggage that his opponents would shine a light on if he jumped into the race.

State Senator Andrew Roraback.  A House and Senate veteran, Roraback is the very model of a fiscally prudent and socially liberal Republican from the state’s northwest corner.  Not a risk taker, so he many be the Hamlet of the race in the early going.

There will be others. State Senator Kevin Witkos and Torrington Mayor Ryan Bingham come to mind.


1 Palin Smith { 01.20.11 at 12:53 pm }

The Tea Party tidal wave never washed across Connecticut on Nov. 2. That’s because the CT GOP had erected a wall to keep the CT Tea Party at bay. If Republicans really want to win, there is only one man who can deliver the 5th District.

Mark Greenberg is a common sense conservative AND a philanthropist. His business experience dovetails perfectly with what is needed in Congress. In 2010 Mark attracted support from both the establishment Republicans and the new Tea Party. Mark is a tireless campaigner an a no-nonsense problem solver! Citizens in the 5th District would be exceptionally represented by Mark Greenberg in Congress.

2 Art McNally { 01.20.11 at 2:32 pm }

The others are pretenders. Mark Greenberg is the MAN!!!!
Art McNally, aka
Joe The Voter, Woodbury

3 Jeff Hogan { 01.20.11 at 3:00 pm }

The state needs someone with some moxie and statewide visibility. Mike Clark is smart, effective and highly ethical. Not only that, but he has proven himself at the local level in decisively passing fiscally prudent single digit budget increases for many years. Mike will also attract independent voters to help win the seat. I’m sick of rhetoric and ready for someone who can actually get it done. It’s time to put Connecticut back on the map. If the Republicans want to take this seat they need a candidate who is relevant to people who actually vote….Mike is the man.

4 Dan { 01.20.11 at 8:28 pm }

Interesting. Here’s my take
Bernier- couldn’t muster the votes st the convention. Bad attitude afterwards-non contender
Boughton- Carried the Fedele campaign- well liked in his area but not a hood fundraiser- a contender
Caliguiri- name recognition- lost hometown of Waterbury a big concern. Lost big in the Farmington valley- a contender
Clark- only known by the politico’s and Farmington residents- unknown factor on how he will fare at the GOP convention
Greenberg- we learned you can’t buy an election in 2010- playing the Bernuer ” I’ve been in this race the longest” entitlement game- non contender
Kane- popular in a republican district. That’s easy. What about the Real CT. concerns about the baggage
Roraback- everyone loves Andrew but will he fight? Hands off wont win an election-still a contender
Witkos- popular in the Farmington valley which is key to victory, highest vote getter in non statewide election but don’t know enough about him- a question mark here
Bingham – popular in Torrington which is currently split with the 1st CD. A contender with his Mayoral relationships in the 5th CD

5 jschmidt { 01.20.11 at 9:55 pm }

Justin Bernier had a good showing and has the experience to be a good Congressman.

6 Cheshire Kat { 01.21.11 at 4:56 am }

As for the ’10 also rans. Bernier was in the race almost a year ahead of Caligiuri and lost to him at both the convention and the primary. So is Caligiuri wasn’t strong enough, how is Bernier?
As for Greenberg, I’ve yet to see how throwing a ton of cash at reciting the Tea Party script makes one electable in a district that voted for Kerry over Bush. That said, running a RINO like Roraback is a huge waste of everyone’s time.

7 Weicker Liker { 01.21.11 at 11:53 am }

I think Bingham lives in the 1st CD. But that could change due to redistricting.

8 Marko Ramius { 01.21.11 at 6:46 pm }

Let’s not forget that Chris Healy kneecapped Bernier by sending out a pre-arranged email proporting to beg Sam to get into the 5th and drop his complete failure of a Senatorial campaign. Sam was first to declare for the US Senate seat and got absolutely no traction, so he took his toys and went home to Waterbury to beat up on the little kids playing in the 5th CD.

9 Adam J. Schmidt { 01.22.11 at 12:03 am }

I think Caliguiri losing Waterbury is a major concern for his future prospects. In its current configuration a Republican needs to hold the Democrat in the urban centers of Waterbury, Danbury, and New Britain while driving up their numbers in the smaller Republican dominated towns of Litchfield County. Of course we have no idea how the 5th district will be reconfigured for 2012. Additionally, with Obama on the top of the ticket I think we can expect a higher Democrat turnout in Connecticut.