After losing a nail-biting election in 2018, Hamden resident Jorge Cabrera is again running for the 17th senate district in Connecticut, which includes Hamden and six other towns in the New Haven suburbs.

Two years ago, Cabrera lost to Republican incumbent George Logan by less than 100 votes out of over 36,000 cast. Now, with more experience and a federal election likely to energize voters in 2020, Cabrera is optimistic that he can better his previous performance and win the seat.

“I’m coming to this race in 2020 with new experience,” Cabrera told the News in an interview. “I learned a lot about myself and what it takes to run a campaign. I had an opportunity to get my message out there… now I have name recognition and familiarity that makes me a stronger candidate.”

Before running for office in 2018, Cabrera was a longtime union organizer for United Food and Commercial Workers. He told the News he used this time to fight for “working families,” including a time when he was involved in organizing with 35,000 employees when Stop and Shop threatened to alter their healthcare plans. The New Haven Stop and Shop strike lasted 11 days last year. Cabrera said he had “been on the frontline” of many labor battles, a skillset which he believes will help him be an effective advocate for change in Hartford if he is elected.

Cabrera told the News that healthcare is a serious concern for many residents in the 17th district, as well as financial security. If elected, he’ll aim to focus on ensuring that everyone can find jobs that pay a living wage, and that businesses come to Connecticut and stay in the Nutmeg state. He also wants to get involved in debates around healthcare, particularly because he believes “way too many” people pay “way too much” for prescription drugs.

For these reasons, Cabrera believes he will be a better senator for the district than Logan currently is. Citing Logon’s vote against raising the minimum wage and against paid family leave, Cabrera told the News that Logon “doesn’t put the interests of our district first.”

“Our current state senator doesn’t reflect the values of our district,” Cabrera said. “He just doesn’t have the best interest of the people he’s supposed to represent.”

Logan was first elected in 2016, knocking off Democrat incumbent Joseph Crisco by less than 2,000 votes. In a statement sent to the News, he said he has focused on listening to his constituents in the past three years, and is confident about his prospects against Cabrera in November.

“My focus as our State Senator has been to effectively represent the diverse interests of the residents of the seven towns in our district. That starts with listening to the people for whom I work,” Logan said. “I respectfully welcome Mr. Cabrera back to the race. I believe the case I will make during this campaign will affirm the voters chose wisely last time and I continue to will work hard to earn their support again.”

Still nearly ten months away from the election, Cabrera is in what he called the “fundraising and planning” stage of his campaign. While he meets with campaign consultants and potential staff, Cabrera is also working to qualify for public election financing. In Connecticut, candidates who raise $15,000 with donations between five dollars and $250 from voters in their districts qualify for a state grant of $90,000 to finance their campaigns. Cabrera has also begun knocking on doors in his district to talk to voters, a typical element of relatively small state races in Connecticut.

Logan also emphasized his efforts to interact directly with voters in his district. He told the News that he appreciated “regular coffees at local diners, town hall interactions and dozens of scheduled meeting with civic groups” over the past three years during which he heard many perspectives.

Grace Whittington ’22 worked on Cabrera’s campaign in 2018 through an elections fellow program sponsored by the Yale College Democrats. In an interview with the News she expressed her appreciation of Cabrera’s leadership style, and said she’s excited for his new campaign.

“Jorge was a great candidate to work for, who faced a tough loss in 2018,” she said. “it is really exciting to see him try to take back the 17th district in 2020.”

If elected, Cabrera told the News he would convene municipal leaders from each of the seven towns in the 17th district to ask what their concerns are and how he could support them. He would then focus on advocating for the municipalities in his district, by working on public school funding, upkeep of roads and bridges, municipal aid and more. Cabrera also plans to strengthen workforce development through training programs and alternative education opportunities at high schools so that Connecticut residents can fill manufacturing jobs and find good paying work without a college degree.

The 2020 election is on Nov. 3.

 

Emmett Shell | emmett.shell@yale.edu