District five race tightens

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Photo by Isabella D'Agosto.

According to the latest polling data, the race between Democratic former state representative Elizabeth Esty LAW ’85 and current Republican state senator Andrew Roraback ’83 for the open fifth congressional district seat is almost sure to be decided by a narrow margin.

November’s approach signals a close to the recent reshuffling in Connecticut politics that began earlier this year with Democrat Joe Lieberman’s retirement from the Senate. Esty will face off against Roraback in this year’s election for the historically conservative district as Democrat Chris Murphy — district five’s representative since 2007 — will be running to replace Lieberman in the Senate rather than campaigning for re-election.

The results of two recently published surveys indicate the race’s competitiveness. An Esty campaign poll conducted between Oct. 21 and Oct. 22 indicated Esty leading the race with a 4-percent margin while a Roraback campgaign poll conducted between Oct. 22 and Oct. 23 showed Roraback holding a 6-percent lead over Esty. Both polls, which were conducted via a telephone survey of 400 likely voters, reported a five percent margin of error.

Jeb Fain, the communications director of Elizabeth Esty for Congress, said the disparity of the polls’ sponsorship had no impact on the results.

The fifth district race has gained media attention for candidates deviating from traditional party lines — both candidates have been the subject of outcry from their respective parties for being too moderate, collectively sidelining socially conservative voters. Roraback and Esty are both fiscally conservative and socially moderate, supporting abortion rights and previously voting to abolish the death penalty. Opposition to capital punishment, according to The New York Times, cost Esty her seat in the Connecticut House of Representatives after one term.

Esty, who supports the Affordable Care Act and the DREAM Act, has been endorsed by President Bill Clinton, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the women’s advocacy group Emily’s List, Connecticut’s American Federation for Teachers, the Connecticut Education Association, the Hartford Courant and the Lakeville Journal, among others. Roraback, who served in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2000 and has been in the state senate from 2001 until now, has been endorsed by the Danbury News-Times and former state Governor Jodi Rell.

“Andrew has an 18-year record as a socially moderate, fiscally prudent legislator with the courage to be independent and to always stand up for the best interests of those he represents,” said Chris Cooper, press secretary for Roraback for Congress, in an email to the News.

Both candidates have seen successful fundraising efforts throughout the campaign. Esty’s campaign has raised more than $2 million from about 6,000 donors across Connecticut and the country, Fain said, the campaign’s Communications Director, noting the strong “grass roots feel” due to the outpour of support from volunteers. Andrew’s campaign committee raised $241,722 in campaign funds during the 17-day period between Oct. 1 and Oct. 17, as reported in the latest FEC campaign filing. He also raised $554,605 in campaign funds during the 3rd quarter of 2012.

Cooper also said that Roraback has used $25,000 of personal funds during the election cycle. This stands in contrast to Esty who, according to an article in The CT Mirror, is estimated to have spent $500,000 of her personal funds during the primary alone.

The current fifth congressional district is a consolidation of the former fifth and sixth congressional districts, a result of the 2010 U.S. Census in which Connecticut lost a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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