Connecticut Legislative Races Show "Real Action" on Primary Day

Aug 11, 2014

Shawn Wooden, Sen. Eric Coleman, and Len Walker at a recent debate.
Credit Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Tuesday is primary day across the state. All eyes will be on the Republican race for governor between businessman Tom Foley and state Senator John McKinney, but a series of legislative races have also gotten some attention. 

"The real action Tuesday night in the legislative primaries has to do with state senate races," said Mark Pazniokas, who covers politics for The Connecticut Mirror. "You have Eric Coleman, one of the more senior members of the senate, who has a very difficult primary with Shawn Wooden, the president of the Hartford council."

Coleman is a Democrat who has served in the senate since 1995. That seat covers parts of Hartford, Windsor, and Bloomfield, and he has attacked Wooden for his role in a bringing a new minor league stadium to the capital city. Wooden has said Coleman's experience is actually a bad thing, and he says it's time for a change.

"But, to me, the more interesting stuff is down in Bridgeport," Pazniokas said. "You have Marilyn Moore, who is backed by the Working Families Party, and some other kinds of activist organizations. She's challenging Anthony Musto for the Democratic nomination."

Senator Andres Ayala, also of Bridgeport, is also being challenged.

"Then we have Ernie Newton," Pazniokas said, "looking to make a comeback for his old seat." Newton, a former legislator turned convicted felon, went to jail after pleading guilty to federal charges, including bribery. "Newton is the town committee endorsed candidate in Bridgeport, but his previous felony conviction has left him ineligible for public financing," he said. 

According to Pazniokas, that means Newton had raised just a few thousands dollars as of early August, while his opponent, Andre Baker, qualified for state public financing. "I have seen no unifying themes in these races," he said. "In the cities, primaries tend to be the real races, so it's not unusual to see an incumbent challenged in Hartford or Bridgeport. That's where those careers are made and lost."

Polls will be open throughout the state Tuesday from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm.