U.S. Capitol

National political groups are ramping up their involvement in Connecticut’s most competitive House race of the midterm elections, with the latest salvo coming from a super PAC aligned with Republican leadership.

The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) released two new ads on Wednesday that take aim at Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-5th District, and seek to bolster her Republican opponent George Logan. Both ads focus on the economy, an issue that the party is seeking to highlight as inflation continues.

The first ad highlights Logan’s biography and his career in both the public and private sectors. Logan, the son of Guatemalan immigrants who had roots in Jamaica, served in the state Senate from 2017 to 2021.

The second ad solely focuses on Hayes, calling her “out of touch” for her past comments that Democrats “single-handedly” saved the economy while again hitting on the issue of inflation. 

The advertising will start airing Wednesday across broadcast TV and is part of CLF’s fall ad reservations of $825,000 for the 5th District. The super PAC had previously announced booking $1.75 million in advertising.

“Americans are watching as life becomes less affordable by the day with Democrats in Washington,” CLF communications director Calvin Moore said. “Jahana Hayes has rubber stamped the failed policies that are destroying the economy and it’s just one more reason voters can’t afford to send her back to Washington.”

The CLF’s latest ad comes a day after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the group tasked with maintaining House Democrats’ slim majority in the House, released its own ad seeking to tie Logan to other Republicans’ more restrictive positions on abortion rights.

The ad war illustrates that both parties see a competitive fight for the 5th District as Democrats look to hang onto their slim majority in the House and Republicans seek to make gains in a state that is nearly all blue at the national election level.

While Republicans see this as one of their best chances to flip a seat in New England, Hayes’ district will still be a challenge. A Republican hasn’t held the seat since 2006 when then-Rep. Nancy Johnson was defeated by Democrat Chris Murphy, who now serves in the Senate.

Hayes first came to Congress after her victory in 2018, becoming the first Black woman to serve in the U.S. House from Connecticut. She won her past two House elections by double-digit margins and President Joe Biden similarly carried her district by 11 percentage points.

The race sparked some national attention when it was rated by FiveThirtyEight’s election forecasting model as a toss-up. But the seat has now moved back to lean Democrat.

Republicans, however, have historical advantages in their corner. Midterm elections tend to be referendums on presidents, and their party typically loses seats. The GOP only needs to make modest gains to flip control of Congress since Democrats have fragile majorities in both chambers.

But after an unusually busy summer just months before a midterm election, Democrats are looking better positioned — at least for now. The party passed major legislation on health care, climate change and a tax policy overhaul bill that aims to reduce inflation in addition to passage of a few bipartisan bills on gun reform and an expansion of benefits for veterans. And the economy is starting to look better as gas prices come down.

As of now, the Republican super PAC is doing the heavy lifting in spending on behalf of the Logan campaign. Hayes has outpaced Logan in fundraising and has a lot more money in the bank.

Hayes tweeted Monday asking for donations so her campaign can counter CLF’s growing investment in the campaign, arguing that the group has already spent money “to spread disinformation in CT05.”

Meanwhile, Democrats are focusing on the issues that motivate their base and could win over independents who are more left-leaning on social issues.

The DCCC ad argues that abortion rights are “on the line” after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The ad’s narrator says that Logan “refused to support” the 1973 landmark decision and seeks to link him to national Republicans who are considering voting on a national abortion ban if the party takes back control of the House.

Logan has said in past interviews that he supports a woman’s right to choose but with limitations. He noted that abortion remains legal in Connecticut despite the end of Roe v. Wade because the state codified those protections into state law.

“I believe it should be safe, legal and most importantly rare,” he said in July on The Lisa Wexler Show, adding that he’s “adamantly opposed to late-term abortions.” But when asked about abortions in later trimesters for medical reasons, Logan said he’d support that.

Logan’s campaign called the ad “a blatant lie” and reiterated his previous comments on abortion rights.

“The ad is a deflection from the fact that Jahana Hayes believes in no restrictions on abortion. Period. That’s a stance that is too extreme for Connecticut, and the majority of voters disagree with her,” said Logan campaign manager Paul Amarone. “The DCCC has nothing else to run on, as inflation sits at a 40 year high, crime is on the rise, and we’re dealing with an unprecedented border crisis; all under one party rule.”

On Wednesday, Logan’s counsel sent a cease and desist letter to TV stations airing the ad, calling on them to take it down immediately over “patently false and misleading” content.

The DCCC pointed to Logan’s interview on The Lisa Wexler Show where the host asked if he’d support a bill “that reversed the reversal of Roe v. Wade” and codified abortion protections nationally. He didn’t say how he’d vote on such legislation, saying that “with any bill, I’d have to look at the details.”

“In interviews Logan has refused to support Roe v. Wade multiple times. Logan has aligned with and is funded by MAGA Republicans who would ban abortions nationwide. Logan, a former lobbyist, should understand better than anyone that when money is exchanged, your bosses expect you to deliver. With their rights on the line, Connecticut women cannot trust George Logan,” DCCC spokesman James Singer said in response to the cease and desist letter.

Democrats’ ad began running Tuesday on broadcast and cable and is part of a $660,000 reservation in the Hartford media market that was booked by the independent expenditure arm of the DCCC, which can’t coordinate with either the candidate or the campaign committee.

Other national Democrats are planning to get involved as well. House Majority PAC — the super PAC aligned with Democratic leadership — reserved over $906,000 in the Hartford market. Connecticut’s 5th District wasn’t part of the DCCC or HMP’s initial ad reservations, but both added the race recently.

While the national parties are choosing different issues to spotlight, both are seeking to tie Hayes and Logan to their party’s respective bases regardless of the positions they’ve taken.

Democrats are looking to connect the dots between Logan and those in his party who want no exceptions when it comes to restrictions on abortion. Republicans, meanwhile, want to associate Hayes with her progressive colleagues.

The last scene of CLF’s ad shows Hayes with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., an image from a Rolling Stone cover story about the major gains made by female candidates in 2018 when Hayes won her first election.

The Connecticut Mirror/Connecticut Public Radio federal policy reporter position is made possible, in part, by funding from the Robert and Margaret Patricelli Family Foundation and Engage CT.

Lisa Hagen is CT Mirror and CT Public's shared Federal Policy Reporter. Based in Washington, D.C., she focuses on the impact of federal policy in Connecticut and covers the state’s congressional delegation. Lisa previously covered national politics and campaigns for U.S. News & World Report, The Hill and National Journal’s Hotline. She is a New Jersey native and graduate of Boston University.