HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Republicans from northwestern Connecticut endorsed state Sen. Andrew Roraback on Friday as their candidate to run in state’s hotly contested 5th Congressional District race.
The veteran state legislator from Goshen won the party’s backing with 53 percent of the vote following three rounds of balloting.
However, Roraback still faces likely challenges from his fellow GOP candidates. All three, including businesswoman Lisa Wilson-Foley, U.S. Navy veteran Justin Bernier and businessman Mark Greenberg, each earned enough support to appear on the Aug. 14 ballot. They still have to declare whether they’ll wage a primary challenge. Wilson-Foley placed second, followed by Bernier and Greenberg.
Roraback told the crowd that Friday marked the first day “of the process of putting the 5th District back into Republican hands.” The seat is currently held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, who is running for the Senate. Murphy had defeated the last Republican to hold the seat, former U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson, back in 2006. The district is considered one of the most politically balanced between Democrats and Republicans in the state, and considered winnable by both parties.
“Tonight we begin the process of educating the people throughout the 5th District that we need in Washington, what the 5th district needs in Washington, what Connecticut needs in Washington, is a person who brings Republican values of fiscal responsibility, personal responsibility, individual liberty, limited government, lower taxes and less spending,” Roraback said. “That is the prescription for what ails us as a nation and that is what I intend to bring to the halls of Congress.”
Roraback, 52 and a married father of a young son, is considered a moderate Republican in the General Assembly — a designation some of his challengers used as a criticism.
Bernier urged the 295 delegates to support a candidate who believes in conservative Republican values.
“The eyes of the Connecticut Republican Party today are on this race,” he said, telling the delegates not to be afraid of the Republican Party’s principles.
Greg Dandio, a member of the Wolcott Republican Town Committee, hinted at Roraback’s moderate voting record by referring to his candidate, Greenberg, as someone who is “not a New England Republican, not a Connecticut Republican,” but “simply a Republican.”
“The day we don’t send the candidate with a true Republican message forward, then we have let all the liberals control our agenda. They and the liberal media want us to believe that we have to put up a moderate Republican to win in Connecticut. They want to control our decisions. I say no,” he said.
State Rep. Sean Williams, R-Watertown, the ranking House Republican on the legislature’s tax-writing committee, said Roraback, the ranking Senate Republican, is a true fiscal conservative.
“There is no one who knows Andrew Roraback’s fiscal record better than I do, and I can assure you this is a fiscal conservative,” he said, crediting Roraback with leading the charge against massive tax increases, record debt, the New Britain-to-Hartford busway and even a playground in his own district “because he recognizes that earmarks need to go away and things to need to change.”
Roraback served in the state House of Representatives from 1994 to 2000, when he was elected to the state Senate.
Last weekend, state Democrats endorsed House Speaker Chris Donovan for the 5th District. He faces a primary challenge from former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty and Dan Roberti.
Besides Roraback, Republicans on Friday endorsed John Decker as the GOP candidate in the 1st Congressional District; East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica in the 2nd Congressional District; Wayne Winsley in the 3rd Congressional district and Steve Obsitnik in the 4th Congressional District. Primaries are also possible in some of those districts as well.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.