In the end, the dark cloud of federal investigations spelled doom for two candidates seeking their party’s nomination for hotly contested offices. In Connecticut’s 5th congressional district, state Speaker of the House Chris Donovan’s campaign crashed and burned after months of news coverage about alleged wrongdoing in his campaign fundraising and alleged legislation fixing (Donovan is not charged or accused). Former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty pulled the upset winning the primary with 45 percent of the vote. On the Republican side, state Sen. Andrew Roraback won the Republican nod over three other candidates including Lisa Wilson-Foley who got caught up in a scandal connected to former Gov. John Rowland. Roraback got 32 percent of the vote. No surprises in the US Senate primaries. Republican Linda McMahon and Democrat Chris Murphy won easily.
The results show that both Esty and Roraback have work to do within their own parties. Roraback garnered less than a third of the Republicans voting yesterday. He’ll need to reach out to conservatives who favored Mark Greenberg (27 percent) or Justin Bernier (19 percent). Roraback will need those voters to turn out in November. Here is this morning’s FOX Connecticut segment:
Similarly, Elizabeth Esty won the Democratic nod with less than half of the Democrats voting. She will have to shore up support among labor, a strong voting block for Donovan (32 percent). The Roraback – Esty matchup is expected to get national attention and attract big money including from Super PACs.
The contest for the US Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Joe Lieberman is also of national importance. The polls had barely closed yesterday when it became clear how Democrat Chris Murphy and Republican Linda McMahon would approach the race. McMahon will portray Murphy as a career politician who missed a number of committee hearings as a congressman. Murphy will take a page out of now-Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s playbook and paint McMahon as trying to buy the seat in the US Senate.
Murphy will also seek to coax McMahon out to debate and engage. She limited any opportunity to make mistakes during the primary, refusing to do newspaper editorial board interviews and carefully picking the interviews she did do. Murphy is a smooth and effective campaigner, quick on his feet and able to point to his record as a congressman. McMahon spent more than $50 million of her personal fortune in the losing effort against Blumenthal last time around. She dropped about $12 million in this primary.
The latest polls show the race to be very tight. The last Quinnipiac poll had Murphy up by three percent which was within the margin of error. A national polling group had Murphy up by eight points.