Manny Santos wins in 5th CD, but Ruby O’Neill to primary

Mark Pazniokas / CTMirror.org

Manny Santos urging a delegate to switch his vote.

Mashantucket — Manny Santos, the former mayor of Meriden, won the Republican endorsement for the open seat in the 5th Congressional District on a second ballot Friday, but he faces a primary from at least one challenger, Ruby O’Neill, a founder of the National Latino Republican Coalition.

Nominations in the 5th District of western Connecticut unexpectedly became hotly contested in both parties after U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, a Democrat, was pressured to quit her re-election campaign over her mishandling of a sexual and physical harassment complaint against her former chief of staff. The Democratic convention is Monday.

Santos won a three-way race with O’Neill and Rich Dupont, a businessman. All three won at least 15 percent on the first ballot, the minimum necessary to qualify for a primary in August. It was unclear if Dupont would go forward. He had 37 votes, one more than the bare minimum to qualify.

Endorsed without opposition in the other districts were: Jennifer Nye of Manchester in the 1st District, who volunteered when she realized the GOP was without a candidate; Danny Postemski Jr. of Hampton in the 2nd; Angel Luis Cadena Jr. in the 3rd; and Harry Arora of Greenwich in the 4th.

mark pazniokas / ctmirror.org

Ruby O’Neill, right, intends to primary.

Santos, 49, an analyst at United Healthcare, noted he was the only candidate in the race before Esty’s exit.

“I took this challenge on before it became easy,” Santos said.

O’Neill, 64, a retired college professor and member of the state’s Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission, touted her performance as a late entrant as a sign of strength. On the final ballot, Santos defeated her 135 to 97.

“I did all this in two weeks,” O’Neill said. “I am going to go forward with the primary. That’s what I’m thinking at this point.”

She is married to Rep. Arthur O’Neill, R-Southbury, the longest-serving Republican in the House.

The 5th District was the only contested race. All five conventions were simultaneously held at Foxwoods Resort Casino, where the GOP will endorse a candidate for governor Saturday.

In the 1st District of Greater Hartford, Nye did not realize she would be seeking the nomination until 90 minutes before the convention began.

Keith M. Phaneuf / CTMirror.org

Jennifer T. Nye, the Republican nominee for Congress in the 1st District.

Nye, 60, a paralegal with two grown children, said she was appalled to learn the party had no one interested in challenging U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, who won the seat 20 years ago.

“Nobody should just get a pass,” she said.

An expected contest in the 2nd District of eastern Connecticut was avoided. State Rep. Kevin Skulczyck, R-Griswold, was nominated, then withdrew and endorsed Postemski to challenge U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, who was elected in 2006.

Postemski, 32, a diesel mechanic and a Marine who saw active duty in Iraq in 2004 and 2006, did not shrink from his lack of experience in public office.

“I understand that I am an unknown quantity,” he said. “But I am a marine, and I am a fighter.”

Postemski said his campaign will focus on the need to preserve second-amendment rights against growing pressures. Democrats in Washington “are trying to say that anything that is semi-automatic is an assault weapon,” he said.

Keith M. Phaneuf / CTMirror.org

Danny Postemski Jr., the party’s nominee for Congress in the 2nd District.

In the 3rd District centered on New Haven, Cadena, 37, of Shelton, who also served in the Marines, was chosen for the second consecutive election cycle to oppose U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, the longest-serving member of the Connecticut delegation.

In the 4th District of lower Fairfield County, Arora, an investment manager from Greenwich, accepted the Republican nomination to take on U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, who was elected in 2008.

Arora, 48, said he intends to be aggressive in challenging Himes for his seat.

“This race is not an easy race. The incumbent is entrenched … but I do intend to take the fight to him — house by house, street by street, Facebook friend by Facebook friend,” Arora said.

Arora emigrated from India when he was a graduate student and has never run for political office before.

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About Mark Pazniokas

Mark, a winner of numerous journalist awards, is the former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and a former contributing writer for The New York Times. In more than 30 years as a reporter, he has covered some of the most compelling stories in the state, including the impeachment inquiry and resignation of Gov. John G. Rowland in 2004 and the nationally watched Senate race won by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman as an independent in 2006. Mark is a graduate of Boston University. E-mail him at mpazniokas@ctmirror.org.

About Keith M. Phaneuf

Keith, with Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, won first prize in investigative reporting from the Education Writers Association in 2012 for a series of stories on the Board of Regents for Higher Education. The former State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, Keith has spent most of 24 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut's transportation and social services networks. A former contributing writer to The New York Times, Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut. E-mail him at kphaneuf@ctmirror.org.

About Clarice Silber

Clarice Silber joined The Mirror as General Assignment Reporter in November 2017. She formerly worked for The Associated Press in Phoenix as a legislative and general assignment reporter. In 2016, she conducted extensive interviews and research in Portuguese and Spanish for the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative team at McClatchy, which was the only U.S. newspaper to gain initial access to the Panama Papers. She is a Rio de Janeiro native and graduated from the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

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