There is talk and speculation that Speaker of the House Chris Donovan might launch a third-party run after losing the Democratic primary for Congress in the fifth district. Such an effort would likely tilt the already close general election to Republican state Sen. Andrew Roraback and betray the ideals Donovan has preached for years. It would also be incredibly selfish and outright stupid. Donovan remains on the ballot as the nominee of the Working Families Party, a group made up largely of union members, their families and supporters. It usually cross-endorses Democratic nominees.
Donovan himself did nothing to curtail any third party talk with his graceless concession speech Tuesday night. He said nothing about the winner, former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty. No congratulations, no “Let’s rally around the nominee,” no “We need to defeat Andrew Roraback,” nothing. He may have even hinted at a third party run when he said, “Although I won’t be the Democratic nominee, [I will continue to fight for the middle class and the poor.] [Shad emphasis]. Speculation increased when Donovan campaign spokesman Gabe Rosenberg told CTNewsjunkie, “Chris is going to go on vacation and the campaign will not have any comment [on his future plans] until he returns.”
You don’t have to be a political genius to figure out that any vote for Donovan in a third-party run hurts Esty. Comparisons to the case of Joe Lieberman who in 2006 lost a Democratic primary to the hapless Ned Lamont but then went on to win the general election are misplaced. Lieberman was able to get the votes of those outside the Democratic primary—unaffiliated and moderate Republicans. Donovan certainly won’t get those key votes in the fifth district.
It’s time for Donovan to retire and hope the federal investigation of his campaign doesn’t extend past the eight people already arrested including two of campaign workers. It’s understandable that Donovan doesn’t want to give it up. He has spent an impressive career fighting for the less fortunate and he hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing himself. But there is a bigger picture for the Democratic Party. Party leaders want to keep the seat vacated by US Senate nominee Chris Murphy in a race that will attract national attention and big money. A Donovan third-party run would sink that effort.