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.