Come January, veteran 3rd District Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro will once again make her way to Washington. Joining her will be newcomer Democrat Elizabeth Esty LAW ’85, who won the congressional race in Connecticut’s 5th District Tuesday.
Incumbent DeLauro, whose district includes much of central Connecticut and New Haven, won with a reported 74 percent of the vote as of press time against Republican challenger Wayne Winsley. Esty won with a far slimmer margin, taking 51 percent of the vote against Republican Andrew Roraback ’83 in the race to succeed Senator-elect Chris Murphy in Connecticut’s 5th District, which includes the northwest part of the state and Waterbury. DeLauro’s and Esty’s victories will result in the continuation of an entirely Democratic Connecticut delegation to the House of Representatives.
“I’ve said it so many times in the past, that I take this as an incentive — an incentive to work harder and make a difference to the people in our community, to the middle class, to the people who are less fortunate,” DeLauro said in a victory speech Tuesday night.
DeLauro first took office in 1991 and has won re-election with at least 63 percent of the vote in every campaign since. Considered one of the most liberal members of Congress, DeLauro previously worked as the chief of staff for former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, a Democrat who served from 1981 to 2011, when he was replaced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73. She also served as the executive director of EMILY’s List, an organization dedicated to funding female political candidates.
DeLauro’s popularity is so great that her name on the ballot may have helped fellow Democratic Congressman Chris Murphy win a hard-fought Senate race for Joseph Liberman’s ’64 LAW ’67 seat, contrary to the more typical trickle-down effect from presidential and senatorial races to congressional and local ones, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said Tuesday morning.
“I think it helps that Chris Murphy is bracketed by what I think are two popular Democrats in the 3rd Congressional District, President Obama and Rosa,” DeStefano said.
Jimmy Tickey, DeLauro’s campaign manager, agreed with DeStefano’s claim, adding that volunteers for DeLauro’s campaign were also knocking on doors and making calls for Obama and Murphy on Election Day.
Despite DeLauro’s high popularity throughout the 3rd District, few Yalies know that she represents them in the House of Representatives.
Of 31 students interviewed on Election Day, only four had heard of DeLauro. Drew Morrison ’14, who was checking voters in at the New Haven Public Library early Tuesday morning, said he did not think many Yale students were paying attention to the congressional campaign.
“I would guess 95 percent of Yalies can’t name who she’s running against,” Morrison said.
Morrison added that this lack of knowledge may stem from Yale students’ uncertain identity as voters.
“There’s such an issue of ‘do you identify yourself with New Haven for these couple of years or do you identify with where you’re from?’” Morrison explained.
Despite the long odds of his victory, DeLauro’s opponent Winsley, who has worked as a motivational speaker and talk radio host, said throughout the day that he remained optimistic.
“I have a better shot than anyone that’s run against her,” Winsley said Tuesday morning.
Winsley declined to comment on the structure of his field operation, instead repeating, “We are a small group of determined people.”
While Yale students voted in a largely noncompetitive congressional race, voters in northwestern Connecticut, including in Waterbury and Bethel, participated in a much closer contest with fewer than 10,000 votes separating the candidates. Senator-elect Murphy held the seat for six years after serving in the Connecticut State Senate. Both Esty and Roraback also began their political careers in the Connecticut General Assembly, with Esty holding a Connecticut House of Representatives seat for two years and Roraback serving six years in the Connecticut House of Representatives and 12 years in the Connecticut State Senate.
Esty campaign spokesman Jeb Fain attributed the win largely to Esty’s organization on the ground, which mobilized a large volunteer force.
“We’ve got a great grass-roots field organization that [Roraback] just hasn’t been able to match,” Fain told the News.
The Roraback campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Tuesday.
In Connecticut’s other three congressional districts, Democratic incumbent candidates won re-election. John Larson, who has held the seat since 1999, won in the 1st District; Joe Courtney, who has held the seat since 2007, won in the 2nd District; and Jim Himes, who has held the seat since 2009, in the 4th District.