HARTFORD, Conn. - Democrats in the state's three hot U.S. House races have been largely overshadowed by the party's U.S. Senate primary, but they're hoping Ned Lamont's victory will help them in November.
oe Courtney, who is running for the second time against Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons in the 2nd District, pointed to record voter turnout in Tuesday's primary as evidence that Democrats are motivated to vote this year.
"If we can get the turnout above 60 percent on Nov. 7, that's a good thing for me," he said. "If the three-way race continues, you're still going to have a tremendous amount of noise and energy and interest, and I think that's something we can feed off."
In the 4th District, Democrat Diane Farrell is waging a rematch of her close 2004 battle against U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays (news, bio, voting record), a Republican. In the 5th District, Democrat Chris Murphy is challenging 12-term Republican U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson (news, bio, voting record). Both Democrats said in statements Wednesday that Lamont's victory over Sen. Joe Lieberman has energized voters.
U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (news, bio, voting record), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Lamont's victory shows incumbents in both parties are vulnerable and "should be a flashing red light to the Republicans in Connecticut about the energy on the Democratic side."
But Republicans hope to capitalize on any lingering Democratic division over the bitterly fought primary. State Republican Chairman George Gallo said Lamont's victory came out of the extreme left wing of the Democratic party and sent a message that moderate Democrats aren't welcome.
"I'm saying that from a Republican standpoint, because, quite frankly, that's where our candidates are. We're independent, we're moderate," Gallo said.
Gary Rose, a professor of politics at Sacred Heart University, said Lamont's victory will embolden and empower the Democratic challengers and force the Republican incumbents to downplay any associations withPresident Bush. Lamont painted Lieberman as too close to Bush and Republicans.
Back on July 2, I wrote over at Dailykos:
Take a look at one race, for example: Lieberman versus Lamont. Lieberman and his drones claim that the Lamont fight will hurt down-ticket and Congressional races, but it should be obvious to all by now that the exact opposite is true. Where does Lieberman get his funding? Maybe he does have a couple of union endorsements, but you can be sure that whoever's corporately funding him is getting their money sucked out from potential Republican challengers. Therefore, regardless of whether Lamont wins this aspect alone helps down-ticket and Congressional races! And I haven't even mentioned the fact that by getting the base out for Lamont, it gets them out for the other races.