EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Democrat William Tong abandoned his bid for U.S. Senate on Tuesday, throwing his support behind one-time rival U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy.
Murphy, who has told fellow Democrats he would like to avoid a primary election, also picked up endorsements from Connecticut’s governor as he seeks to consolidate support less than two weeks before the state party’s convention.
“I want to elect a strong Democrat to the Senate. I will continue to work hard for that,” said Tong, who appeared at a news conference with Murphy and the governor. “Team Tong is merging with Team Murphy.”
Tong, a 38-year-old state representative from Stamford, gained national attention as the only Asian-American candidate for Senate this year in the continental U.S. In a race against better-known Democratic rivals, he cast himself as the underdog, often sharing his story of growing up working at his family’s Chinese restaurant before graduating from an Ivy league university.
He lagged behind his Democratic rivals in the money race, raising roughly $1 million compared with $4.24 million for Murphy as of mid-April and about $1.9 million for former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman said at the news conference that they are supporting Murphy, with the governor saying there will be no learning curve for the sitting congressman.
Malloy also urged Bysiewicz to get behind Murphy, saying the party should be united. The Democratic nominee will face a Republican from a field including former Congressman Christopher Shays and former wrestling executive Linda McMahon. They are vying to fill the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent.
“This race is going to be tough enough. There will be a candidate spending $50 million or more in smack-down money,” Malloy said in a reference to the amount McMahon spent on her failed 2010 bid for Senate.
The campaign manager for Bysiewicz said she has no intention of stepping aside.
“It is no surprise that the party establishment would support the party insider for the May Democratic convention,” campaign manager Jonathan Ducote said. “Voters will have an opportunity to speak during the August primary and Susan will be there to provide voters a clear choice on how to hold Wall Street accountable and stand up for the middle class,”
Murphy said he is proud to have the support of Tong and the governor.
“We’ve got a fight ahead of us whether it’s from one millionaire’s bank account or a dozen super PACs,” he said.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.