With little name recognition throughout the 5th District, Elizabeth Esty emerged two years ago from a crowded field of Democrats to win the party’s nomination after frontrunner Chris Donovan’s campaign became embroiled in scandal.
Esty had little in common with Donovan, a union-backed, progressive candidate from Meriden who had set the tone for the Democratic legislature as House speaker.
Esty had served on local boards in Cheshire and for one term in the General Assembly and faced some criticism in her hometown for her support of the death penalty repeal. But Esty’s business-friendly, and at times even right-leaning, views helped her eke out a victory over Republican Andrew Roraback.
Now, with two years of experience in the Capitol and as a more familiar face in the district, Esty has proven herself to be a leader in the community who has worked to bring jobs back to her district, has not allowed partisan politics to sway her vote and has been a strong advocate for her constituents.
For those reasons, we endorse Esty for a second term as the representative of the state’s congressional 5th District over Republican Mark Greenberg and petitioning candidate John Pistone.
As with any incumbent, Esty now has a record to stand behind, and she says she is proud to do so.
Esty has focused on manufacturing as a way to bring jobs back to the district. She co-sponsored a bill that would bring together public schools and private companies to grow manufacturing. Esty also recently introduced bills to aid women entrepreneurs in the STEM field, to create funding for manufacturing programs and helped acquire a $1.7 million grant for manufacturing job training programs at Naugatuck Valley Community College.
Esty was sworn into office a month after the tragic school shootings in Newtown. She fought a difficult battle in Congress for background checks and other gun control measures, hearing the loud cries from parents of victims and others in her district for changes in the wake of the deaths of 20 students and six educators.
She has also stood up as a leader in her district in the face of a drug crisis. With heroin and other opioid-related deaths on the rise, Esty brought together key members of the community for discussions on what could be done to help stop the rise of overdose deaths.
But her record is not spotless. Esty has faced criticism from fellow Democrats for not being liberal enough for the Connecticut residents who sent her to the Capitol. Meanwhile, her opponent has attacked her for not taking a stand on major issues and following the prevailing wind to what’s politically popular. But we respect Esty’s willingness to take a moderate stance on most issues while talking to her constituents and doing the research necessary to form an opinion prior to making a vote.
While Greenberg, a businessman from Litchfield, has no experience in office, he is far from a political novice, having twice previously run for the 5th District seat. Like his opponent, Greenberg is the last candidate standing from a packed field that ran for his party’s nomination two years ago. The narrowly-defeated nominee, Roraback, is now a state Superior Court judge.
Greenberg has held firm to his beliefs throughout his three campaigns, not wavering or changing his tone after falling short twice before. And we commend him for that.
Greenberg also deserves respect for not pandering to the National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups, sticking to his conservative views on gun laws, but shifting his view on background checks after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. Greenberg’s support for background checks cost him in some camps; the NRA knocked its rating of him down from “A” to “F.”
While his motivation to help preserve the American dream is admirable, Greenberg’s tendencies are just too far right for us to put our endorsement behind him.
Greenberg believes energy independence is important for the country’s future, but is willing to make moves risky to the environment to achieve it. He supports the Keystone pipeline, drilling on the continental shelf and fracking.
His opponent meanwhile, helped secure funding to reactivate safe, clean energy producing dams in Collinsville.
Esty has found her footing during her two years in office and deserves another term.