Roraback says he’s taking off the gloves

Hartford – Republican Andrew Roraback dragged Gov. Dannel Malloy into his scuffle with Democrat Elizabeth Esty Wednesday by saying both Democrats like to tax and spend.

“If you don’t like what Dan Malloy has done for Connecticut, you are not going to like what Elizabeth Esty will do in Washington,” Roraback said at a noon press conference at state GOP headquarters.

Roraback and Esty are in an increasingly vitriolic race for the 5th District congressional seat, which is being vacated by Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy, who is running for the U.S. Senate.

In tying Esty to Malloy, whose favorability ratings have slipped recently, Roraback is using a tactic being used by the Esty campaign and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who are running ads linking Roraback, a moderate, to controversial conservatives in his party and their policies.

Roraback has also attacked Esty for a comment caught on video at a town council meeting in Cheshire 10 years ago.

“I’m going to let voters know this is a woman who, in her hometown of Cheshire, when seniors were complaining about the rising cost of property taxes, her response to that was, ‘Why don’t you move to another town? If you don’t like the taxes here why don’t you move to another town,’” Roraback said after an event at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury Tuesday.

He also made the comment a big issue at his Hartford press conference. Roraback played a snippet of the video of that town council meeting for reporters in Hartford Wednesday.

Earlier Wednesday, during an interview on WNPR, Esty said that she was concerned that cutting tax revenues would hurt the town’s public schools. “I was a mom fighting to protect funding for our public schools,” she said. Esty also said that later, as a member of the town council, she worked to reduce property taxes for seniors.

Roraback also attacked Esty for accepting campaign contributions from corporations and green groups who have business before her husband Dan Esty, who heads Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

“The people of the district need to know where she’s getting the money to run these lies,” he said, a reference to a new Esty campaign ad saying that Roraback favors raising the retirement age and cutting Social Security benefits.

The mud in the contest for the 5th District seat started flying in earnest last weekend when the DCCC began running an ad that links Roraback to conservative Republicans like former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, current vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan of Minnesota and controversial  Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin. It also says Roraback, a moderate Republican, would “fit right in” with tea party lawmakers.

The ad has infuriated Roraback so much so that he’s asked his lawyers to pressure Connecticut television stations to stop running it.

But although it uses guilt-by-association to attack Roraback and says he would be pressured by GOP leaders to vote for a controversial plan to privatize Medicare, the ad falls short of promoting outright lies. No television station has pulled the ad.

During the WNPR interview Wednesday, Esty said she can’t pull that ad because it is sponsored by the DCCC’s independent PAC.

Under federal law, independent PACs can’t coordinate their work with candidates or campaigns. But they can heed requests from a candidate to discontinue the run of a political commercial.

Roraback said he does not support the privatization of Medicare nor raising the retirement age. He did say that the Social Security program should be changed for those who are now 50 years old and younger to save the program from insolvency but said those changes should be determined by a bipartisan panel. 

Esty insisted during her WNPR interview that “(Roraback) is on record during the (GOP) primary race as supporting both those policies.”

Roraback began airing his first ad in the general election campaign last week, a 30-second spot that touted his moderate voting record and independence from the GOP.

But his next ad may not be as positive.

“I have to stand up for my reputation, and I have to stand up for the truth,” Roraback said. “She’s not going to win by telling lies about me, we’re going to win by telling the truth about her.”