Real estate developer takes second crack at 5th District seat

In his first run for Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District seat, real estate developer Mark Greenberg took an unconventional route: He bypassed the Republican Convention, petitioned onto the primary ballot, and lost with 28 percent of the vote. He’s not doing that again.

“It’s a whole different feel this time,” he said. “We definitely won’t be skipping the convention.”

greenberg, mark

Mark Greenberg

Greenberg was one of three Republicans in the 2010 primary for the 5th District. Justin Bernier earned 32 percent of the vote and Sam Caligiuri won the Republican nomination with 40 percent. Caligiuri will not run in 2012, but Bernier and Greenberg will try again as incumbent Chris Murphy leaves for a U.S. Senate bid.

Greenberg’s 2010 run was his first venture into politics. He says his lack of experience separates him from the typical politician, and his wealth of business experience gives him an advantage.

“I’ve learned to make tough decisions and I’ve learned to balance my budget,” he said.

The wealthy Litchfield County entrepreneur has been in business for over 30 years. His first company, Adirondack Mobile Telephone and Adirondack Radio Telephone, supplied mobile telecommunication service through upstate New York. He now owns Mark Greenberg Real Estate Company, managing various properties across Connecticut and several thousand apartment units in New York City.

He said his top management will take over his company if he’s elected. “My presence is not needed there on a day to day basis,” he said.

Greenberg says real estate helped him understand what people want in a struggling economy. He said he became politically mobilized when the 2008 recession hit his business and the businesses of the tenants on his property.

“Very few people who are elected watch people go through everyday pressures like that,” he said.

The experience led him to enter the 2010 Congressional race. After losing the primary, he says he only feels more mobilized for 2012.

Greenberg emphasizes his intentions to keep his promises as a candidate. For example, he introduced a pledge during a public debate in Canton last year saying he would not accept a pension if elected to office.

He asked the other candidates to sign it and they did. Greenberg said surprising them with a pledge was not a political tactic, but an attempt at guaranteeing that politicians live like everyday citizens.

Greenberg also signed a term limit pledge, saying he would serve no more than 12 years. He said he also supports the theory behind a so-called “28th Amendment” movement that gained some momentum on the Internet in 2010 with its demand that all federal laws apply equally to members of Congress.

The movement was fueled largely by the notion that Congress exempted itself from federal health care reform–a claim that is not true. Still, Greenberg said he supports the overarching idea of the “28th Amendment.”

“We have to force folks to live by the laws that they pass,” he said. “It’s a philosophical change that we have to make.”

Greenberg remains conservative across the board, encouraging Second Amendment rights, pro-life values and increased border security. He supports entitlement reform and suggests raising the retirement age to help with cuts to Social Security. One place where he wouldn’t cut spending? Defense.

“Defense spending is at a low point of around 4.8 percent of our GDP,” he said. “We don’t want to put our troops in further danger.”

Greenberg emphasizes the need for a “Balanced Budget Amendment,” or an amendment to the Constitution that mandates the federal government to spend no more than it takes in.

He would not release his fundraising numbers, but he said he filed first quarter numbers with the Federal Election Commission and that he only recently started fundraising in earnest. He said he plans to supplement the fundraising with personal contributions, which proved substantial last year.

During his 2010 race, he spent $1,367,765 of his own money and raised $255,849 in individual contributions.

“The money is helpful, but certainly not the end all,” he said.