Analysis: “…And They Come to the Finish Line! And the Winner is…”

Note: Join me Monday morning for a preview of the Tuesday primary races. I’ll be appearing just at approximately 8:30 a.m. with my friends Erika Arias and Logan Byrnes on FOX Connecticut’s “Morning News.” Tune in if you can!

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LBJ signs the Voting Rights Act.

Primary day is finally upon us Tuesday and to be sure, the races have done Connecticut “proud.” The races for Congress from the fifth district and US Senate have had more plot twists than an O. Henry story. The fifth district has it all. There are two federal investigations—one involving a corrupt former governor turned talk show host and one involving fraudulent campaign contributions connected with potential legislation-fixing. Super PAC money is raining freely making it likely the most expensive House race in state history and one of the most expensive in the country in this election cycle. The US Senate races should be pretty much decided if you believe the polls. But both underdogs are hoping for an upset.

Fifth District Democrats

First and foremost, somethings transcend politics. Candidate Dan Roberti lost his mother who died Saturday at age 60. For all practical purposes, he has suspended his campaign activities. But the effort on his behalf goes on. “Dan’s volunteers and staff are more dedicated than ever and committed to his success. He acknowledges that his family, friends and supporters have been a source of strength,” said Roberti campaign manager Erik Williams.

Roberti goes into Tuesday as a somewhat unknown. A Hartford Courant article questioned his resume and he certainly isn’t pinching pennies having loaned his campaign another $250,000 last week for the final stretch, bringing the total of his self-funding to $830,000. It’s hard to criticize the Mark Greenbergs and Elizabeth Estys of the political world for trying to “buy” a seat when you’re doling out your own cash as well.

There’s been talk about internal polling done by national Democrats that show Roberti in the lead. No one will confirm that but those who know tell The Shad Roberti is in the lead by as much as four points. His opponents, Esty and Chris Donovan, have been hammering Roberti so they’re at least concerned.

Elizabeth Esty has the support of the state’s newspaper’s editorial boards, presenting herself as the intellectual and better known alternative to state Speaker of the House Chris Donovan. Smart, respected and well-connected, there’s still question as to whether she is connecting with the people who count—those who will come out for a mid-August primary. She too has dumped her own money in her campaign, loaning it a half million dollars last week.

Speaker Donovan sojourns on despite the reek of scandal that comes from his campaign. Despite the arrests of two campaign workers—including his right hand man in the legislature Josh Nassi who moved over the campaign—for fraud. Donovan continues to say he knew nothing of what was going on right under his nose. In addition, his campaign can’t get out of its own way, scandal aside. First, they underreported the bill for the “Twardy Report” that they say clears the speaker (it does no such thing). Then they used a campaign mailer featuring the picture and quote from current Congressman Chris Murphy. Murphy knew nothing about, wasn’t happy and Donovan campaign manager Tom Sawn had to apologize.

Donovan has the support of labor which seems not to care that he will likely be toast in a general election. Donovan can win the primary Tuesday because his people—union members—vote. (Saddam Hussein could win a mid-August primary is he got his Republican Guard to turn out to the polls.) The bottom line for The Shad and for many I’ve talked to, is that I believe Donovan knew nothing of the activities that have resulted in the arrests and calls for him to quit the campaign. But that, in and of itself, is reason he shouldn’t be a congressman.

The latest on the Donovan campaign is a report that the Connecticut Law Tribune straight out asked the speaker’s office and House Democrats whether they had received subpoenas. They couldn’t or wouldn’t answer.

Fifth District Republicans

This race is a hot mess. Charges of over-the-top negative campaigning combined with deep pocket candidates makes for an interesting race. Throw in a federal grand jury investigation of a former governor’s ties to one candidate and you have quite a circus.

Businesswoman Lisa Wilson-Foley’s campaign is no doubt hamstrung by revelation that the feds are investigating John Rowland acting as an “adviser” to her campaign on a volunteer basis while “consulting” her husband Brian on an anything-but-volunteer basis. All this while Rowland used his radio show to promote Wilson-Foley’s candidacy while slamming chief rival Andrew Roraback, all without the convicted Rowland telling his audience any if this. Wilson-Foley’s done come Tuesday.

Mark Greenberg is yet another businessman that apparently has so much money he doesn’t know what to do with it. He came in third in the GOP primary for the same office two years ago and now has plowed about $1.8 million into this race. There has been talk in the last week of a Greenberg upset as he is running as a “true conservative.” Unlikely but possible.

State Sen. Andrew Roraback is the odds-on favorite to win this race—again, if he can get his people out. One thing is for sure, the Democrats don’t want to run against him. A Democratic Super PAC backed by labor is spending $200,000 on TV ads painting Roraback as too liberal! The idea is to paint Roraback as too moderate so the Dems end up running against one of other three (Justin Bernier is the other candidate).

US Senate Republicans

This is over. The Chris Shays campaign didn’t care for characterization that the former congressman has gone cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs because Linda McMahon is beating him. Sorry, I call ‘em as I see ‘em.

US Senate Democrats

Former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz is hoping for an upset but will likely be left with yet another sad chapter of “The Rise and Fall of SuBy.” Leading in the race for governor in 2010, she switched to the attorney general race so she could win that and then run for US Senate. She was ruled ineligible for AG and then gave an embarrassing performance as secretary of state (remember? Her actual job). The gubernatorial race ended up mired in Bridgeport (natch) as they ran out of ballots. Bysiewicz then officially declared Dan Malloy the winner based on unofficial results. Or something like that.

US Rep. Chris Murphy has run a flawless campaign even remaining calm—to the extent that’s possible—when Bysiewicz ran a negative ad against him, an ad that even she admitted was false, but wouldn’t take it down. Called a whore by Lee “Spacewoman” Whitnum in a televised debate on of the more entertaining moments of the campaign season, Murphy is the favorite to because the next US Senator from Connecticut.