GOP candidate Chris Diorio quits targeted state House race

Chris Diorio, left, when he began his campaign.

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Chris Diorio, left, when he began his campaign.

Chris Diorio has withdrawn as the Republican nominee in the 65th House District of Torrington, leaving the GOP scrambling to find a candidate to challenge Rep. Michelle L. Cook, the Democrat who won by just 52 votes in 2014.

Gregg Cogswell, the Republican chairman in Torrington, said Wednesday that Diorio notified him Friday he was quitting the race to accept a job in North Carolina, ending a campaign that never seemed to find traction.

“From a money standpoint, it didn’t get off the ground,” Cogswell said.

Diorio, who could not be reached for comment, failed to raise $5,000 in small donations, the threshold to qualify for public financing. Republicans say they had taken the 65th off their list of targeted districts, as did the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.

Chris Diorio's campaign page on Facebook disappeared.

Chris Diorio’s campaign page on Facebook disappeared.

His withdrawal is a blow to Republican hopes of gaining the dozen seats necessary to win a majority in the House for the first time since 1984.

The 65th is one of the most competitive districts. Cook’s predecessor, Republican Anne L. Ruwet won the seat by a single vote in 2002 and was re-elected by 62 votes in 2006, before losing decisively to Cook in 2008.

State law gives the GOP until mid-October to nominate a new candidate, and Cogswell said the party is intent on contesting the seat.

“Michelle Cook doesn’t deserve a free pass to another two years,” he said.

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