City politicos this week threw their weight behind candidates who hope to replace U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman ’64 LAW ’67, who is vacating his seat when his term ends this year.
Nearly 100 city Democrats, including members of the Board of Aldermen and Yale College Democrats, attended a
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fundraiser at the East Rock home of U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro Sunday to support U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy’s candidacy for the seat. Two days later, Murphy’s opponent for the Democratic nomination, former secretary of the state Susan Bysiewicz ’83, met with theDems’ elections committee to introduce herself to students and discuss the upcoming 2012 elections. The two entered the race after Lieberman announced that he would not seek re-election last January, and Murphy has posted better fundraising numbers and has consistently polled higher than Bysiewicz.
Murphy or Bysiewicz will compete against a Republican challenger — widely assumed to be Linda McMahon, who is running against U.S. Rep. Chris Shays for the Republican nomination — for Lieberman’s position. McMahon lost to Sen. Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 for the state’s other Senate seat in 2010.
As New Haven is home to some of the state’s largest Democratic voting blocs, candidates running for statewide office place high priority on city leaders’ endorsement decisions.
In that regard, Murphy seemed to outperform his challengers, as State Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, who represents New Haven, and State Reps. Toni Walker, Roland Lemar and Gary Holden-Winfield, who all represent the city im Hartford, spoke in Murphy’s favor at the fundraiser hosted by DeLauro, and 16 of the board’s 30 aldermen were in attendance. Some, like Ward 9 Alderman Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10, Ward 3 Alderwoman Jacqueline James-Evans and Ward 20 Alderwoman Delphine Clyburn, turned out in support of Murphy, while others, like Ward 2’s Frank Douglass, just came to hear what Murphy had to say.
Ward 1 Alderman Sarah Eidelson ’12, who attended the fundraiser, said while she has had “good conversations” with both Murphy and Bysiewicz, she has not yet decided which of the two she will support.
While the Dems typically do not endorse during primary elections, Dems President Zak Newman ’13 said this year may be different. Newman said though there are members of the Dems who support each of the candidates, the Dems have not yet made their decision.
“We traditionally do not endorse in primaries; however, it’s not totally off the table this primary season,” Newman said. “The student voice is an important voice in this election.”
According to Dems communications director Eric Stern ’15, who was one of 10 Dems members who attended the fundraiser, Murphy and DeLauro addressed the crowd about “the need for a strong middle class, good jobs, an equitable tax code and fair [and] regulated practices by the banks and on Wall Street.”
After the fundraiser, Bysiewicz released a list of 36 New Haven Democrats, including current and former aldermen, who she said were supporters of her campaign. But the list was not entirely accurate — Douglass and Ward 26 Alderman Sergio Rodriguez were on the list even though they had said they were undecided. Ward 7 Alderman Doug Hausladen ’04, who said he was firmly behind Murphy, was also on Bysiewicz’s list.
Two days later, the Dems hosted Bysiewicz in the Branford Common Room as the third visitor of their “Meet the Candidates” series, where Dems election coordinator Josh Rubin ’14 said she was well-received by the students in attendance. Bysiewicz took questions from students about issues like reproductive rights, job creation and her prior work as secretary of the state, Rubin said.
Rubin added that the Dems’ campaign work has already begun, explaining that they are in contact with the campaigns of President Barack Obama and Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren, as well as with local Democratic efforts.
According to campaign disclosures from the end of December, Murphy had raised nearly $2.7 million, Bywiewicz brought in almost $1.3 million and State Rep. William Tong, who is also running for the Democratic nomination, counted less than $720,000 in his campaign coffers. In 2010, McMahon spent nearly $50 million to Blumenthal’s $10 million during the course of the campaign.
Murphy currently has the backing of all four congressmen in Connecticut’s delegation. The state primary will take place in August.