U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, one of the most powerful leaders in the country, will come to Hartford next week to raise money for Republican Congressional candidate Andrew Roraback.
The two Republicans will appear at a luncheon fundraiser at the Hartford Club on Tuesday with a maximum contribution of $2,500 per person. Roraback said Wednesday night that he did not know how much money would be raised in an event where word is still spreading and responses are still coming in.
“The speaker is coming to Hartford to help me raise the money I need to compete in this race,” Roraback told Capitol Watch. “My opponent has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in help from the DCCC because this race has the attention of a lot of people.”
Boehner’s appearance clearly shows that national Republicans are seriously watching the battle between Roraback and Democrat Elizabeth Esty, a former state legislator who won a three-way Democratic primary in August to gain her party’s nomination. Republicans are trying to win back the seat that they had held until 2006 when longtime incumbent Republican Nancy Johnson of New Britain was defeated by Democratic challenger Chris Murphy of Cheshire in a sprawling district that stretches from Simsbury to Danbury to Salisbury.
“The Speaker is not in the business of spending his time unwisely, and he offered help, and we said, ‘Thank you,’ ” Roraback said in an interview. “I’m excited to introduce him to Connecticut to begin to enlist his support for helping to solve Connecticut’s problems.”
The appearance by Boehner also opens Roraback up to criticism that has already started from Esty and Democrats. For weeks, they have been trying to paint Roraback as a potential tool of Boehner and the Tea Party caucus in Washington, D.C. But Roraback has repeatedly said he would vote against the views of fellow Republicans on issues where he disagrees, such as abortion.
“I’m a bridge builder,” Roraback said when asked about the criticism. “I’m in the business of opening up lines of communication. I want to go to Washington and work on getting people to talk with one another and work with one another. If I’m going to build bridges, it’s going to start by building relationships. I’ll never apologize for building a relationship to help the people I serve.”
He added, “The Speaker knows that for the Republican Party to be a national party it needs to welcome people like me who are socially moderate and fiscally conservative. … My loyalties lie to the people of my district.”
Regarding Boehner, Roraback said, “Probably the only thing he wants from me is to win this race.”
The fundraising battle is key as the two candidates will need money to pay for all-important television commercials in the final weeks of the campaign. Esty announced this week that she has raised more than $2 million overall, including about $650,000 in the three-month period of July, August, and September that ended on Sunday night. Roraback has not yet released his numbers, but he said that will come soon.
Since the primary, he said, “We are neck and neck in our fundraising with my opponent.”