RORABACK A PLAYER IN 5TH DISTRICT CONGRESSIONAL RACE

Wholly unimpressed with the Republican field in the race for Connecticut’s 5th District congressional seat (as many of us are), state Sen. Andrew Roraback felt he needed to do something. So he did. He is now a candidate for the seat and a formidable one at that.

Elected nine times to the state Senate, Roraback was candid about his run when The Shad spoke to him right after his announcement. “I don’t want [state Speaker of the House] Chris Donovan to be my congressman.” Donovan has a huge fund-raising lead over his fellow Democratic candidates and has the structure and ground game of labor behind him.

In the years The Shad worked for the state Senate Democrats, I found Roraback to be smart, affable and most importantly, reasonable for the most part, on the issues. I asked if one of his advantages is the ability to reach out to independents or even Democrats. “I have Republican values and principles but I represent all the people of my very diverse [district].”

Roraback told me he is not worried about the fundraising advantage and head start in general the other Republicans in the race have. “I’ll just work twice as hard.” He’ll need it. The 5th District includes such areas as the bucolic Litchfield County but also the hard-scrabble cities of Waterbury and Torrington.

Democrats pounced right away (they clearly fear Roraback more than the other GOPers). “When it comes to job creation and fiscal policy, Andy Roraback – like so many Connecticut Republicans – has been taking his cues from the far-right of the party,” said Democratic Party Chair Nancy DiNardo. “He has to explain why he voted against the UConn Bioscience plan that will bring thousands of jobs to the 5th District. He has to explain whether or not he stands with his Republican leadership that’s now dragging its heels when it comes to the Jackson Laboratory project, which has the potential to make Farmington the hub of an emerging industry.

“He has to explain why he now opposes common-sense projects that are similar to projects he has sponsored in the past. He is currently opposed to funding for playgrounds for disabled children and calls these programs ‘pork,’ when just years ago he called similar programs ‘grants,’” she said. In all fairness to Rorabak, he made it clear he supports the playgrounds referenced by DiNardo but believed the state simply couldn’t afford more borrowing (bonding) for any projects.

In the Republican primary, Roraback faces Mark Greenberg, a deep-pocketed, ultra-conservative; Justin Bernier, a rather annoying player in the state GOP—both were unsuccessful candidates for the seat in 2010; Lisa Wilson-Foley, another deep-pocketed, failed candidate from 2010 (lieutenant governor) and Mike Clark, a former FBI agent whose claim to fame is his role in bringing down corrupt former Gov. John Rowland.

The Democratic field is Donovan, former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty, Dan Roberti and Mike Williams.