Independent group aims to tie Hayes to Obama

Mark Pazniokas /

Jahana Hayes greeting New Britain alderman  Manny Sanchez.

Jahana Hayes, a Democratic candidate for the sprawling 5th District congressional seat, is getting some last-minute help in the form of campaign videos produced by an independent group that link her to former President Barack Obama.

The ads, created and funded by A New Promise political action committee, show Hayes being lauded by Obama at a 2016  White House ceremony honoring her as the 2016 Teacher of the Year. The PAC has raised about $90,000 so far for Hayes.

“She gets through to her students because she remembers what it means to be one of them,” Obama said in one of the videos.

A voiceover says Hayes is “one of us, for all of us.”

While Obama was effusive of his praise of Hayes at the ceremony that honored her as an outstanding teacher, the former president has not formally endorsed a candidate in the race for retiring Rep. Elizabeth Esty’s seat.

Hayes is running in Tuesday’s Democratic primary against former Simsbury First Selectman Mary Glassman.

Dan Roberti, who unsuccessfully ran for the 5th District seat in 2012, is raising money for A New Promise. Mike Piersall, who worked for Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen’s re-election campaign, is the PAC’s campaign director.

“I’m helping her because Jahana is exactly what the district needs in Washington,” Roberti said.

Under federal law, A New Promise is barred from collaborating with Hayes’ campaign and must operate independently.

Hayes has also been helped by Sen. Chris Murphy, who urged the teacher to run for Congress. Meanwhile, Reps. John Larson, D-1st District, Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, and Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd Distrit, have helped Glassman raise campaign cash.