Race to replace Esty heats up ahead of party conventions this month
The race to replace U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty gained steam last week, with four new candidates officially declaring for the outgoing Democrat’s 5th U.S. House District seat.
Among the new faces are two Democrats and two Republicans — and at least one more addition expected this week. The Democrats’ roster now includes New Britain Alderman Manny Sanchez, who announced last Monday, and Waterbury teacher Jahana Hayes, who announced last Wednesday.
The middle of the week also brought on Republicans Rich Dupont of Watertown and John Pistone, a Brookfield conservative who challenged Esty as a write-in candidate in 2016 after not receiving his party’s nomination.
Two-time Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Curry also indicated he would make it official this week.
The additions set up a five-way race in each party — for now, at least — heading into the Republican nominating convention this weekend and the Democratic nominating convention the following week.
Hayes, named national teacher of the year in 2016, hosted a campaign launch party last Friday night in Waterbury.
She and Curry both appeared at an event for candidates last week in Waterbury. Both are pursuing very different firsts: Hayes to be the first black Democrat nominated to run for Congress in Connecticut and Curry for the longest period between campaigns for the same seat in Congress.
Curry, 66, is a long-time Democratic elected official and operative who now lives in Farmington. The former state senator ran for a previous iteration of the 5th District in 1982 and was twice nominated for governor by the Democrats in 1994 and 2002, losing both races to former Gov. John Rowland. He also served as counselor to President Bill Clinton in the mid-1990s.
The Democratic field already includes former Simsbury First Selectman Mary Glassman and Rabbi Shaul Praver, who lives outside the district, in Fairfield, but led a Newtown synagogue for years.
All 10 candidates from both parties are vying to replace Esty, who decided in April not to seek re-election to a fourth term amid criticism of her handling of harassment accusations against her former chief of staff. The decision led to an unexpected open seat that attracted interest from a slew of current and former politicians, but several would-be contenders have shied away from the race recently.
Sandy Hook Promise co-founders Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden announced recently that they would not seek the seat. Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, who dropped out of the governor’s race in January, followed suit.
Other Republicans running for the seat include former Meriden Mayor Manny Santos, Southbury psychologist Ruby O’Neill, New Britain IT worker Craig Diangelo and Liz Peterson of Simsbury.