National parties gear up for hot 5th District race

Washington — Connecticut voters are in for a knock-down, drag-out contest for the 5th Congessional District seat — courtesy, in part, of the national Republican and Democratic party organizations.

As far as both national parties are concerned, the most competitive candidates have won their respective primaries on Tuesday; and before the night was over they were firing off the first salvos in the general election campaign.

In the Democratic camp, national leaders saw Elizabeth Esty as their best candidate. Connecticut House Speaker Christopher Donovan was viewed as marred by the corruption scandal in his campaign and challenger Dan Roberti was seen as too politically inexperienced.

National Republicans were hoping state Sen. Andrew Roraback would win, saying his moderate stance and years in the state legislature would attract independent voters and give the Democratic winner a run for her money.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was ready Tuesday night with a strategy to undercut Roraback’s moderate credentials. Even though he was the least likely to win tea party support of all of his GOP rivals, the first attack is a video called “Meet Tea Party Republican Andrew Roraback.”

The video shows clips of Roraback likening President Obama’s administration to a Socialist government and saying he supports an increase in the retirement age.

The National Republican Campaign Committee, in turn, defended Roraback as moderate.

“Roraback is well respected in the district and widely recognized as someone who has proved he can work across party lines,” an NRCC statement said. “His moderate, consensus-building style stands in stark contrast to Esty’s partisanship…”

Republicans, in turn, targeted the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“Roraback winning is the worst-case scenario for Democrats,” said NRCC spokesman Nat Sillin. “The fact that a Democrat super PAC spent more than $200,000 in the Republican primary attacking Roraback, and the DCCC is attacking him before the ink dries on his primary victory, proves their utter desperation.”

Ironically, a super PAC called Patriot Majority USA backed by labor groups and other Democratic organizations aired last-minute attack ads charging Roraback as too liberal for the 5th District.

Both parties expect the race for the 5th District seat to be competitive and may step in with campaign cash and other resources.

A Democratic official said a decision would be made in a few days whether to move the 5th District race to the DCCC’s “targeted” column.

There are other congressional races that will be decided in November. Rep. John Larson, D-1st District will face Republican John Decker. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, will face Republican Paul Formica; Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, will face Republican Wayne Winsley; and Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, will face Republican Steve Obsitnik.