Republican Andrew Roraback has never even spoken to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but he is certainly happy to have his support.
Bloomberg is trying to make a difference in the 5th Congressional District race by spending more than $1 million on television commercials supporting Roraback in his neck-and-neck battle against Democrat Elizabeth Esty. The extent of Bloomberg’s help became publicly known Friday, and it could increase before Election Day.
“I have no idea how I got on his radar,” Roraback said Friday. “But I do think he has a history of supporting socially moderate and fiscally prudent candidates, and I somehow got on that list.’’
A billionaire, Bloomberg created a Super PAC called Independence USA PAC, which helps candidates who reflect Bloomberg’s political views. He has pledged to spend up to $15 million to back moderate candidates who support gay marriage, education, and gun control.
Bloomberg’s committee is running a TV commercial that quotes a New York Times editorial that said Roraback is “a rare moderate who supports women’s rights, campaign finance reform and protecting the environment.’’
The Times, however, actually endorsed Esty in its Oct. 21 editorial.
“The ad accurately reflects what The New York Times said about me,” Roraback told Capitol Watch. “The ad doesn’t say I was endorsed by The New York Times because I wasn’t endorsed by The New York Times.’’
The ad mentions that Roraback will “push for better enforcement of gun laws,’’ which is among Bloomberg’s top issues. So far, Bloomberg’s committee has paid for ads both for and against Republicans and Democrats, depending on their views.
Esty’s spokesman, Jeb Fain, criticized Roraback.
“It’s not surprising that a billionaire and shadowy right-wing groups are using super PACs to spend millions on a vocal supporter of tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires like Andrew Roraback,’’ Fain said in an e-mail. “But at the end of the day, shoe leather is going to win this election, not super PACs. While Senator Roraback is backed by conservative super PACs, Elizabeth Esty has the support of hundreds of volunteers who have already knocked on tens of thousands of doors and made more than 250,000 phone calls to voters across the 5th District and who are going to keep working hard until the polls close on Election Day.”
Pundits say the 5th Congressional District race is too close to call, with three days before the election. The sprawling, 41-town district stretches from Simsbury to Danbury to Salisbury, touching both New York state and Massachusetts borders.
The race is being watched by both sides, locally and nationally, and millions have been pouring into the campaigns. It’s a toss up according to two nationally-known political prognosticators, and it has caught the attention of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and others.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is trying to keep the seat in Democratic hands, has spent more than $1 million for TV commercials against Roraback. In addition, the House Majority PAC and Patriot Majority USA have spent more than $700,000, combined, against Roraback. On the flip side, the Ohio-based Government Integrity Fund Action Network is spending more than $1 million for advertisements against Esty.
Despite being the beneficiary of the money, Roraback said he is not a major supporter of the case known as Citizens United, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2010 that paved the way for the creation of the Super PACs that are spending millions of dollars this year on elections nationwide.
“There are Democratic Super PACs supporting her, and there are Republican Super PACs supporting me,” Roraback told Capitol Watch. “I”m not a big fan of Citizens United. But it’s reality. Both sides are playing by the rules. … You have to compete with the rules as they exist, and all of the Super PAC activity is completely outside the control of my opponent and myself.”
The difference with the Bloomberg ad, he said, is that it does not attack Esty, a former one-term state legislator from Cheshire.
“It’s a positive message,” Roraback said. “None of the Super PACs, I don’t think, have run any positive ads.”