Donovan Withdraws Name From Ballot, Esty Steps In
(Updated 8:11 p.m.) It’s official. House Speaker Chris Donovan has pulled his name from the Working Families Party ballot line in the race for the 5th Congressional District.
The letter withdrawing his name from the ballot was hand delivered to the Secretary of the State’s office at 11:30 a.m.
The decision to pull his name from the ballot came with no comment from Donovan who lost the Democratic Party nomination to former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty on Aug. 14. After his losing the Democratic nomination, Donovan did not rule out a third party run before leaving to go on vacation. He returned last week, but has not returned repeated phone calls for comment about his decision.
Late Thursday afternoon the Working Families Party, as was expected, gave its endorsement to Esty.
“Elizabeth Esty is in the best position to fight for working and middle class families going forward,” Lindsay Farrell, executive director of the Connecticut Working Families Party, said in a press release. “If you want a government, and an economy, that works for middle class families in Connecticut, I encourage voters to support Elizabeth on the Working Families ballot line.”
The press release include comment from Donovan endorsing Esty’s candidacy.
“It’s critical for the working families of the 5th District that we unite as Democrats behind Elizabeth Esty for Congress,” Donovan said. “Elizabeth is committed to the fight for working families. She has a record of advocating for middle-class jobs, women’s rights, and Medicare and Social Security.”
According to this Meriden Record Journal article, Donovan called Esty this past weekend and encouraged her to call the Working Families Party.
“I had a very good, long conversation with him,” Esty said Tuesday. “We’re having good conversations with folks in the wonderful, broad and diverse Democratic coalition. That’s been my focus right now and Chris has been very helpful.”
According to Connecticut election law, Donovan’s withdrawal gives the Working Families party until Sept. 5 -– the minor party nomination and certification deadline-– to choose a new candidate for that Congressional seat if it wishes to.
Esty met with the Working Families Party on Wednesday to discuss picking up the endorsement.
Farrell said Wednesday that they discussed their positions with Esty on various issues during an hour long conversation.
Asked to described the meeting Farrell said “thorough.”
“We talked about some votes she made in the past we disagreed with,” she said without offering any specifics. She said there is agreement on Medicare and allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for the wealthiest residents.
Esty was a state lawmaker for one term and in 2009 voted against paid sick days, which the Working Families Party’s earnestly lobbied for many years at the state Capitol until it passed in 2011.
Her campaign said she had concerns about how nonprofits such as the YMCA would cope with such a mandate. Those concerns were addressed in the 2011 legislation, according to her campaign. She has said she would support paid sick leave at the federal level.
Donovan had previously criticized Esty for her vote on an alternative Democratic budget, which sought to find middle ground with former Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell by cutting some social services while increasing taxes on the wealthy.
Connecticut’s largest labor organization, the AFL-CIO, switched its endorsement from Donovan to Esty last week.
John Olsen, president of the AFL-CIO, cited Esty’s involvement in the fight to save jobs at the Cheshire Pratt and Whitney plant, her votes on issues such as health care reform and education, as well as her willingness to protect the right to organize and collectively bargain, as factors leading to the endorsement.
Esty, who won the Democratic nomination, said she was “honored to have the endorsement of the hard-working men and women of the Connecticut AFL-CIO.”
Olsen pushed for the endorsement believing it was necessary to make certain the seat remains in Democratic hands. He said he didn’t see a clear path to victory.
Esty’s Republican opponent in the race, Sen. Andrew Roraback, has been cross-endorsed by the Independent Party, which means his name will appear twice on the ballot. If Esty secures the endorsement of the Working Families Party her name will also appear twice on the ballot.
It was no surprise that Donovan decided to end his bid Thursday. Both Esty and Roraback seemed confident it was only a matter of time before they were the only ones in the race. The two have been attacking each other since Aug. 15.
“It is more than a little ironic that on the very day a new UConn study shows that Connecticut’s economy is still shrinking even when the rest of the country begins to recover, my opponent is seeking the support of a party whose extreme agenda will perpetuate Connecticut’s downward slide, and make it even harder to create and attract the jobs we so desperately need,” Roraback said.