State Senator Andrew Roraback is expected to announce Thursday that he’ll jump into the race for the Republican nomination for Connecticut’s 5th District congressional seat. With so many variables relating to geographic support, ideological overlap, old friendships and fundraising, it makes the contest one of the most fascinating and wide-open in recent memory.
In 2010, Roraback was an early supporter of eventual nominee Sam Caligiuri even though he is far apart from his more conservative former state senate colleague. At the time, Roraback said that his friendship with and personal trust and respect for Caligiuri trumped ideological differences.
Now Roraback will be running against Caligiuri’s two 2010 opponents. Caligiuri received 40% of the vote last time to Justin Bernier’s 31 percent and Mark Greenberg’s 29 percent.
It will be interesting to see if Caligiuri returns his friend’s favor and gets behind Roraback.
This could be significant beyond the organizational, fundraising and public support of the 2010 Republican nominee.
Bernier, Clark and Wilson-Foley all split a base of support in the Farmington Valley.
Roraback is beloved in his Senate district that encompasses the Torrington area, the Northwest Corner and down into New Milford.
But no candidate has strong ties to the Waterbury area, where Caligiuri is king and which carried him to victory in 2010.
The other key community none of the five candidates can claim as a natural base is Danbury, which sets up 2010 lieutenant governor nominee and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton as a potential powerbroker at the Republican convention and beyond.
Boughton fought Wilson-Foley in the lieutenant governor primary in 2010, which could influence his choice of candidates this time around, if he decides to get involved at all.
It’s also widely expected that Boughton is gearing up for a 2014 run for governor, which could influence his decision about whether to take sides.
Danbury was one of three towns that libertarian-leaning Litchfield businessman Mark Greenberg won in the 2010 primary. This surprised many Republican activists, and some say the Greenberg victory shows just how much it is up for grabs – implying that he snuck through with heavy personal campaign spending on TV ads.
Greenberg should not be counted out, however. Like Wilson-Foley, he is a millionaire who can afford to be a full-time candidate and is expected to spend large amounts of his own money on the campaign.
He also stands out this year with the sharpest conservative message, whereas in 2010 he was competing with Caligiuri among the farthest-right wing of the party. His 29 percent in 2010 looks pretty good considering it will be a five-way race this time with the more moderate bloc of the voting base being split among Bernier, Clark, Roraback and Wilson-Foley.
The entry of Roraback – who has often referred to himself as among a dying breed of moderate-to-progressive New England Republicans – could hurt Bernier the most. In addition to his home base in the Farmington Valley, where Bernier now faces competition from Clark and Wilson-Foley, his strongest support in 2010 came from the Torrington area and the small Northwest Corner towns that are in the heart of Roraback’s district.