Despite a late poll showing him trailing by 7 percentage points, Democratic incumbent Chris Murphy beat back a challenge from state Sen. Sam Caligiuri to win a third term in the 5th Congressional District.

“This campaign was the toughest of my career,” Murphy said while addressing a banquet room full of media and supporters in Waterbury. “There were a lot of people who said we couldn’t overcome the national Republican tidle wave… Never ever let anyone tell you a thing cannot be done.”

The race was hotly contested, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and independent organizations from both sides pouring money into the contest.

Republicans were hoping to take back this seat from Murphy, who unseated the 24-year Republican incumbent Rep. Nancy Johnson by double-digits in 2006. But the anti-Democratic wave that Democrats across the nation were bracing for was not enough to sweep Murphy out.

“I may be coming back to a Congress that looks very different,” Murphy said, adding he will put aside the politics and help get Connecticut residents back to work.

Earlier that evening, in another hall in Waterbury, Caligiuri supporters waited with confident anticipation. But the numbers went against them as Murphy won all the larger cities in the 5th district – including Caligiuri’s hometown of Waterbury.

“There’s not a thing I would have done differently,” Caligiuri said after conceding about 11 p.m. He mingled with the crowd of supporters for almost an hour afterwards.

Even as his supporters talked about a possible rematch in two years, Caligiuri said Murphy should take the close race as a warning sign and rethink his “too far left” political views.

“This is a moderate district. If this race convinces Congressman Murphy to vote a little more moderate, than in a small way we have won.”

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Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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