The Connecticut AFL-CIO’s political convention formally voted Tuesday to endorse Democrats Chris Murphy for U.S. Senate and Chris Donovan for Congress, giving them a boost from labor heading into the Aug. 14 primary.

The ratification of a recommendation by the labor federation’s political committee is routine in many years, but it is a timely affirmation of support for Donovan, whose campaign was rocked by an FBI investigation into illegal contributions.

Murphy, a three-term congressman from the 5th District, and Donovan, the state House speaker, are seeking open seats. Murphy is trying to succeed Sen. Joseph I. Lieberm and, and Donovan is trying to succeed Murphy.

Murphy is the front-runner in his primary race with Susan Bysiewicz, the former secretary of the state. Donovan is competing in his primary with former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty and Dan Roberti.

The convention heard from all three Democrats in the House race.  In the Senate contest, Murphy, Bysiewicz and Republican Linda McMahon addressed the convention Monday.

Former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, R-4th District, who is opposing McMahon for the GOP nomination, addressed delegates Tuesday, finding common cause on at least one issue: antipathy toward McMahon.

Shays was greeted with laughter when he asked, on the off chance there was a Republican in the audience, for support in the GOP primary. He understood that no Republican was in the running for an endorsement.

“I’m not saying I’m your first choice, but I sure as hell would like to be your second choice,” Shays said.

Shays had a mixed record on labor issues in his 21 years in Congress, rating higher than most other Republicans, but trailing Democrats, especially those in the Connecticut delegation.

“Respectful” is how he described his relationship. He was applauded by the union delegates when he said he wanted his Republican Party back, a reference to the GOP’s current hostility to New England moderates.

When Shays lost his seat in 2008, he was the only Republican serving in the U.S. House from New England.

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Mark PazniokasCapitol Bureau Chief

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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