Sensing a chance to pick up a Republican seat in a Democratic state, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner came to Hartford Tuesday to raise money for Republican Andrew Roraback in a tight battle for Congress.
Roraback is locked in a struggle with Democrat Elizabeth Esty in a sprawling, 41-town district that stretches from Simsbury to Meriden to Danbury to Salisbury. The seat has switched back and forth through the years in the swing district with Democrat Christopher Murphy of Cheshire carrying the district after longtime Republican Nancy Johnson of New Britain won it following redistricting.
Boehner declined to speak to reporters Tuesday, but his spokesman said that he would not have traveled to Hartford if he did not think the race was winnable for Republicans.
\”The Speaker\’s visit here in the final 30 days of the campaign does speak to the competitiveness of this race, and the importance of electing Andrew Roraback – and other candidates like him – who will fight to help create a better environment for jobs growth,\’\’ said spokesman Cory Fritz.
More than 80 people attended the luncheon fundraiser at the private Hartford Club with a maximum contribution of $2,500, including executives from major corporations like Aetna, Travelers, United Technologies Corp. and The Hartford. The campaign raised more than $50,000 from the event.
Boehner has been traveling around the country to help Republican candidates, and his latest swing covered New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. That included a breakfast fundraiser Tuesday for Richard Tisei, an openly gay Republican in Massachusetts whom Roraback says has a solid shot at winning.
\”The Speaker recognizes that to be a national party, the Republican Party has to be a big tent and has to welcome people who have my kind of profile – people that have had the courage to be independent, people that are moderate on social issues, and people who care about the central issue in this election, which is fixing our economy,\’\’ Roraback said outside the state Capitol. \”His message was that Andrew Roraback is a candidate who fits Connecticut. He\’s a Republican, but he\’s a moderate Republican from a long tradition of New England Republicans who have often been at the very center of important policy decisions.\’\’
Concerning Boehner, Roraback said, \”I have told him he should expect that I am not going to stray from my principles when it comes to social issues. … For people who are fearful that the Republican Party has lurched too far to the right, the answer is Andrew Roraback because I\’m someone who has a long record of [being] socially moderate and fiscally conservative.\’\’
Roraback added, \”The hyper-partisan noise coming from my opponent is disappointing because it represents a perpetuation of the problem rather than a move toward solutions.\’\’
But Esty\’s campaign manager, Julie Sweet, said, \”Another day, another press conference filled with name-calling. Senator Roraback is desperately trying to hide from voters that the first vote he\’d cast is for Speaker Boehner – who just happened to raise him $50,000 today. That vote will mean an end to Social Security and Medicare\’s guaranteed benefits for current and future generations. That’s the choice voters have in November – a local leader who will be a voice for Connecticut’s seniors and middle class families, or a career politician with a hefty debt to repay.\”
State GOP chairman Jerry Labriola said the visit by Boehner was relatively rare for a national figure who is extremely busy during the final four weeks of the campaign season as Republicans are trying to hold the majority in the U.S. House.
\”I think it demonstrates a very strong commitment to Andrew\’s campaign,\’\’ Labriola told Capitol Watch. \”We\’re happy that the NRCC has shown this commitment to our candidate.\’\’