Mackenzie Hawkins

Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy endorsed Democratic nominee for mayor Justin Elicker SOM ’10 FES ’10 on Thursday at a joint event hosted by an upcoming biotech venture called Kleo Pharmaceuticals.

Last month, Elicker won the primary contest for the Elm City’s top office, besting three-term incumbent Mayor Toni Harp by a margin of 16 points. While Harp formally suspended her campaign two weeks later, grassroots organizers are soliciting votes on her behalf ahead of November’s election, for which she will remain on the ballot. With the general vote less than a month away, Sen. Chris Murphy came to the Elm City on Thursday to discuss New Havens’ biotechnology industry and formally endorse Elicker’s bid for mayor.

“I’m a big fan of Justin Elicker. His campaign has always been about engaging people in every corner of the city and bringing them into the political process,” Sen. Murphy said in a press release issued on Thursday. “I’m proud to endorse Justin for mayor and I’m excited to see the new ideas he will bring to City Hall.”

In an interview with the News, Murphy said Harp is a great friend and colleague in the state legislature, where the two served together from 2003 to 2007. He went on to commend Elicker’s plans to grow New Haven’s economy — particularly by making the Elm City an attractive place for businesses like Kleo.

At the event, Murphy and Elicker joined Kleo’s senior management for a conversation about biotechnology in New Haven. Douglas Manion, CEO of the 18-person organization, highlighted what New Haven offers to businesses: proximity to major hubs like Boston and New York as well as affordable housing for employees. Elicker also said that New Haven shares attributes of large cities but offers a more “humane” environment in which to raise a family and do business.

Still, Manion noted several impediments to the growth of his company and highlighted the need for improved local transportation and increased incubator space. Nonetheless, he said, the Elm City boasts a robust environment for biotechnology in which “Nutmegers [help] Nutmegers get ahead” — a reference to Kleo’s biggest investor, New Haven-based Biohaven Pharmaceuticals.

At the event, Murphy underscored the need for regional economic development planning and noted that New Haven should not have to compete with neighboring towns to attract companies like Kleo. This competition, he said, is a result of localized taxation, which he called an “insane strategy for development.” Because Connecticut lacks a county government system, every municipality must fund itself via taxes. This, Murphy said, means that a gain for one city is an opportunity lost for another.

Looking towards New Haven’s upcoming election, Murphy praised Elicker’s plans for the biotechnology industry and for the Elm City as a whole.

“We have such an opportunity to grow the biotechnology industry here in New Haven, so I’m excited that he wants to learn more about how we can work together to try to recruit more companies like Kleo to come here to New Haven,” Murphy told the press on Thursday. “These are great jobs and it’s a great way to grow the economy of this city and this region.”

Elicker thanked Murphy for his support and expressed his commitment to working with officials at all levels of government to better the Elm City.

“Together with [Murphy’s] voice in the Senate Chambers I am certain we can continue to improve the lives of New Haven residents,” Elicker said in a Thursday press release. “Especially those small businesses that are the backbone of our local economy.”

The general election will be held on Nov. 5.


Mackenzie Hawkins |

Mackenzie is the editor in chief and president of the Managing Board of 2022. She previously covered City Hall for the News, including the 2019 mayoral race and New Haven's early pandemic response. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she is a junior in Trumbull College studying ethics, politics and economics.