Farmington — For Republican Andrew Roraback, the last lap in his year-long bid for Congress includes a lot of stops for breakfasts, at least four of them Sunday.
Roraback’s Sunday began at breakfasts held by Republican town committees in Kent and Thomaston, followed by more breakfasts hosted by the Farmington Fire Department and Wolcott Lion’s Club.
“I’m going to squeeze in as many of these (events) as I can,” Roraback said.
The reason for all those pancakes and scrambled eggs? Roraback is reaching out to those who haven’t focused on the race for the 5th District seat until the last minute.
So is Elizabeth Esty, the Democrat in the race. She’s campaigning everywhere there’s a potential vote, especially in the Republican-leaning parts of the 5th District like Litchfield and Torrington.
The frantic campaigning, guaranteed to continue until the polls close at 8 p.m. Tuesday, is fueled by the closeness of the race, one of the tightest congressional contests in the nation.
Both candidates know the race is likely to be won by the undecided and unaffiliated voters in the 5th District, who account for more than 40 percent of the registered voters there.
Some Connecticut voters haven’t been fully aware there’s a hot congressional race in the state, despite a barrage of campaign ads, said Ronald Schurin, an associate professor of political science at the University of Connecticut.
“Unlike the presidential contest, where there are really not that many undecided voters now, there are likely a significant number of undecided voters who have not focused on the congressional race,” he said.
Esty thinks those undecided voters are best found at the district’s supermarkets because they attract a diverse group of voters.
“Everybody has to eat,” she said.
Esty stood outside the doors of Stop & Shop in Southbury Saturday night — in just one of many such campaign stops that day — handing out copies of her endorsement by the New York Times and trying to shake as many hands as possible.
Some stopped to chat. Others rushed by, intent on their shopping. But most people responded affirmatively when Esty asked, “You’ll remember to vote Tuesday, won’t you?”
The candidates for the 5th District race must also make sure their supporters get to the polls.
Roraback is doing that by urging all Republican Party organizations in the 5th District to urge the faithful to vote –and to help him reach undecided voters by manning phone banks.
Esty has the help of organized labor in her get-out-the vote efforts. Fellow Democrats are also helping Esty excite the party’s base.
On Saturday, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-3rd District, attended a rally at Esty’s campaign headquarters in Cheshire. Also attending was Sandra Fluke, the women’s rights activist who was at the center of a media firestorm in February after conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut.”
On Sunday, Esty received some campaigning help at a Danbury diner from Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, a member of the Democratic House leadership and the most powerful African American in Congress.
Schurin, the UConn professor, said Roraback’s “ground game” is not as well structured as Esty’s. But he said Roraback’s name recognition — he represented part of the 5th District in the state legislature for 18 years — and the support of various Republican town committees “will serve him well.”
Roraback said he must meet more voters in any way he can as the hours count down to Election Day.
Of the election results? “I think it’s going to be close,” Roraback said.