5th District race heats up; Roraback hits back at Democratic ad

Washington — At a March speech in Woodbury soon after he declared his candidacy for the 5th District congressional seat, Republican state Sen. Andrew Roraback declared, “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is afraid of me.”

Roraback said the DCCC had filed a freedom of information request for all of his official correspondence, a move he said was prompted by fears of the Republican candidate’s strength.

It may now be Roraback’s turn to be concerned about the DCCC, which has come to the aid of his rival, Democrat Elizabeth Esty.

The DCCC’s independent expenditure arm launched an ad this weekend trying to link Roraback to the Republican House leadership, tea party House members like Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Allen West, R-Fla., and controversial GOP figures like Sarah Palin and Todd Akin. The latter, who is running for Senate in Missouri, made waves several weeks ago when he said that victims of “legitimate” rape can’t conceive.

The DCCC ad also said Roraback supports the budget proposed by GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., which would cut billions of dollars from social programs and turn Medicare into a voucher program.

“That’s their plan … and they need Andrew Roraback’s vote,” the ad says.

The ad strikes at Roraback’s efforts to run on his moderate record and his willingness to distance himself from the national Republican Party, especially on social issues.

It hit the airwaves days after Roraback released his first ad of the general election campaign, which proclaims his independence and bipartisanship.

The DCCC has spent about $400,000 on the ad, enough money to air it until Oct. 8.

Roraback campaign spokesman Chris Cooper said, “Democrats have stooped to new lows” and insisted that the DCCC pull the ad. Cooper also said, “The ad falsely claims Andrew’s support for Paul Ryan’s budget.”

“At a time when the Roraback campaign has released its first ad filled with positive messages of hope for the future, voters should reject the underhanded and dishonest tactics of Democrats in Washington who don’t want voters to know the truth about Andrew’s long record of independence and bipartisanship,” Cooper said in a statement.

At that March speech in Woodbury, Roraback said all five GOP primary candidates, including himself, were true conservatives.

“The reality is, all five candidates in this race are conservative Republicans and don’t let anyone convince you to the contrary,” Roraback said.

But as he battles Esty, Roraback must stress his moderate credentials to win the votes of independent and unaffiliated voters of the 5th District, many of whom have abandoned the GOP because of its conservative stance on social issues.

“Roraback wants the race to be personal, all about him,” said University of Connecticut political science professor Vin Moscardelli. “Elizabeth Esty is much more comfortable with her party being involved in her race and with the Democratic label.”

Roraback hasn’t totally turned his back on the GOP.

He met with the National Republican Campaign Committee in Washington, D.C., last week, where he was named a “Young Gun,” the party’s designation for a priority candidate eligible for special help.

But the NRCC’s s independent expenditure committee has not yet released an ad in the Roraback-Esty campaign.

Nor has another Super PAC, the Young Gun Action Fund, which helps the priority Republican candidates.

Brad Dayspring, spokesman of the Young Gun PAC, said there were no plans to run ads in Connecticut’s 5th District race “at this time.”