Democrats Chris Donovan and Leo Canty figured to win their races Tuesday, in part because their histories as labor leaders gave them on-the-ground support from fellow unionists.
Instead, it was a tough night for both.
State House Speaker Donovan fell badly to Elizabeth Esty in the race for the nomination in the 5th U.S. House district. That was a surprise to a lot of close watchers despite a scandal and indictments that would have killed other campaigns — as labor leaders for the most part stuck by Donovan, a former SEIU organizer.
(Donovan Tuesday night with his wife, Elaine)
Canty was also expected to win easily in a primary for the reconfigured 5th state House district, or so his supporters thought. But the longtime American Federation of Teachers and AFL-CIO leader, a stalwart at the state Capitol, trailed by one vote in unofficial results, to political newcomer Brandon McGee of Hartford.
Canty, who’s also the Windsor Democratic town chairman, is among the hardest working guys in politics. He knocked on doors for months, bicycled through the district and appeared with former Sen. Chris Dodd.
(Canty, right, with Matt O’Connor at the 2011 state employees’ negotiations)
Canty, at least, was gracious in the heat of a dead-heat race, my Courant colleague Steven Goode reports. Donovan, inexcusably, didn’t so much as mention Esty in a non-concession speech — which ought to doom any hope he has for running under the Working Families banner.
Does either of these outcomes say anything about the waning power of unions at the polls? Maybe not, as there were plenty of other factors at work. But it’s worth noting. And on the bright side for former labor leaders, Edwin Vargas, a retired teacher and onetime president of the Hartford Federation of Teachers, won his primary against Rep. Hector Robles, the former cop facing fraud charges.
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