Written by Juliana Simone
Though each candidate represented the Fifth Congressional district as state elected officials, Esty’s tenure of a two year term pales in comparison to the eighteen years reti
ring State Senator Roraback served. Additionally, Roraback holds the record for never missing a vote since first being elected as a State Representative until his recent retirement as State Senator. In total, he cast 8,929 consecutive votes despite simultaneously running his family’s law firm which was established in Torrington in 1883.
Both Roraback and Esty are attorneys. Roraback has a BA from Yale and a law degree from the University of Virginia. Esty has a Harvard BA and a law degree fromYale University.
Andrew Roraback was first elected to the Connecticut General Assembly as a member of the House in 1994. He served three terms representing his district. He was elected to the State Senate in 2000 and served the 30th senate district until he had to retire to run for the Fifth Congressional seat in 2012. Elizabeth Esty was elected for one term in 2008 in the 103rd assembly district defeating Republican incumbent Al Adinolfi by just over one hundred votes and by winning one town out of three. In 2010, Adinolfi re-challenged her and won the seat back by a little more than Esty did in the prior race. In each election, Adinolfi won the district parts of Cheshire and Wallingford and Esty won the portion of Hamden.
Roraback has been able to remain the state legislature as a Republican for almost twenty years due to his appeal to voters from all parties. He has a hands-on presence that Fifth District voters from dairy farmers to small businessmen and remaining manufacturers appreciate. Sincere and devoted to his public service, Andrew is viewed as a knowledgeable caring legislator.
Connecticut politicians and constituents have waited for him to run for Congress for years. Perhaps the time is right now with the Senator’s life settled in Goshen with his wife Carol and their young son Andrew, Jr.
He told press upon his entrance into the Fifth Congressional District race which was already a crowded field with four other candidates, two who had run previously in 2010, that his reason for running was when he learned the Democrat House Speaker Chris Donovan was going to be the presumed nominee. Donovan, long known as a staunch union advocate and friend to lobbyists, was someone Roraback said he just couldn’t allow to be his representative in Washington. He asked himself who could run against him and win? And he realized the answer was himself.
A fellow Democrat competing for the party nomination was Elizabeth Esty though at this time no one was expecting her to come close to Speaker Donovan at the state convention or if necessary during the primary. Donovan won the party nomination easily at the Democrat convention but Esty won enough votes to appear on the ballot to primary.
After a few weeks, Donovan, who had a reputation for under-handed wheeling and dealing in the Capitol, had to drop out of his Congressional bid when unethical campaign contributions were discovered which led to an FBI investigation. Court proceedings are still under way. Esty, endorsed to our knowledge first by Ameriborn News Network, won the primary and became the Democrat nominee even though she was not well received by the left wing of her party who perceived her as a moderate. Esty stood against her party at times in the CGA on budget issues among others.
What made Esty considerable as a viable candidate for debt ridden and joblessConnecticutthis election year was her moderate stance that didn’t always vote with her caucus regardless of perceived pressure. Unfortunately, since becoming the Connecticut Democrat Fifth District Congressional nominee, she has now had to meet with the likes of Nancy Pelosi and other partisan extremists who have totally altered her viewpoints and agenda. She now no longer has any unique qualities that make her an old fashioned ‘blue dog democrat.’ She simply sounds like all the rest of them reciting the same democrat agenda that so far has only failedAmerica.
During the Torrington debate held in October (moderated by Republican American’s Executive Editor Jonathan Kellogg), Esty and Roraback’s answers showed two very different visions for the future of America which they both noted in their own remarks.
In opening statements, Roraback said he would not seek bipartisan solutions but mold them. “I’ll bring them together – and create middle class jobs the people in the Fifth so desperately need.” Esty and Roraback differed over the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Roraback felt it promised too much and delivered too little and reminded people it would cost a trillion dollars. Esty said she would fully support it because it ensured very important provisions – no lifetime limits on coverage and allowing 26 yr. olds to stay on their parent’s plans. Roraback agreed with 26 yr. olds coverage and said he voted in CT to support this…He also said he supported coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.
In terms of social security for younger generations, Esty proclaimed it was the single most important program for seniors and she added to keep it secure Congress had to be kept from raiding it over and over again. Senator Roraback said if he was our Congressman anyone over 50 would not have their benefits altered, but he stipulated changes would have to be made after that or there would no social security benefits for (younger generations.)
When asked about the negative ads each of them were paying a million dollars for, Roraback noted his first ad was positive, but right out of the box his opponent made a negative ad which the press said was not true. “What’s put on the air is meant to scare people,” he observed. He felt sorry forElizabeth in that she didn’t disavow this approach.
Esty responded by saying this is why she is such a strong proponent of campaign financing because there’s no accountability. She said Andrew had no control over the million dollars he got (from a PAC) yesterday. She professed she would sponsor something Roraback opposed.
Roraback used his rebuttal time to say he served on the committee which implemented all of the campaign finance laws but the night before (the bill) was about to pass, a loophole was inserted that turned the whole thing upside down. He states he stood on his feet in protest (to no avail). “The next year we got rid of that provision.”
A Medicare question has Esty reply that most of seniors heath cares are prescription costs. Roraback repeats that if you’re 50 or over that will be there for you but one of the places he breaks from his party is on privatizing health care because he believes costs will rise. Esty says this is a nice idea but not a plan and says the age limit should be set at 55. She believes we need to look at the Mayo Clinic and that if we don’t support Medicare it will cost seniors 6400. dollars more a year.
Senator Roraback rebuts “If it sounds too good to be true it probably is…” and adds we can do better for our seniors.
When asked what one issue would either candidate not compromise on, Roraback says:
“Party loyalty has its place but party loyalty has started to erode what made this country great.” He believes we need to be faithful first to the people we represent and never bow to party pressure (that will affect the people.)
Mrs. Esty recollects when she was elected in 2008 defeating a long term incumbent, a few months later I was called to vote on (a particular item) – knew it was wrong, and cast a vote that I knew maybe cost me my seat – and I was urged to stay home that day – but I cast that vote anyway. She makes a reference to Roraback being able to vote today, too, because of this…
Roraback states the only way he’s been able to accomplish anything was working across party lines. He mentions working with Fifth District dairy farmers, and (Torrington’s) The Warner Theater and (getting things done for them) was by Democrats and Republicans working together.
The next question was a personal one for the two candidates pointing out they both had children – Andrew who has a young son that is about to start kindergarten and Elizabeth who has three children. He inquires how much time each of them will spend inWashington vs. Connecticut.
Andrew Roraback says he will not move to Washington and will stay here and notes he’s been a constructive participant on state issues. “When Congress isn’t at work I’ll be here at work.”
Elizabeth Esty responds that she will soon be an empty nester (so this question doesn’t pertain to her really.) She continues by noting that Congress hasn’t been in session for the last two years. She says she will not move toWashingtonand opines that Congress doesn’t know each other anymore. She feels Congress has to get back to working together and not on their next re-election.
The next question inquires about fuel costs and foreign oil.
Esty says this is a really important question and lapses into a clean energy response that shows green solutions as being the answer to our energy needs.
Roraback replies thatConnecticuthas some of the highest costs for energy and fuel. He states that Republicans have done everything they could do to lessen these costs but the Democrat majority and Governor Malloy have (stopped them.) He says he is in favor of the Keystone pipeline and that this is something we can’t afford to not have (built.) He says he opposed it originally but now that it’s been rerouted he is in favor it and it will provide us with 500 thousand barrels of oil should we need it.
Esty uses her minute of rebuttal to say she has the endorsement of the Sierra Club and that Andrew Roraback has been endorsed by the Exxon-Mobile (PAC). She complains that the Keystone pipeline is the dirtiest (pipeline, if built) and that all of its fuel would be sold to South America and Europe anyway so it is not helpful to theUnited States. She adds that green house gases would spoil Canada…
Roraback says the coal ash from NRG is the environmental disaster in Connecticut. He tells the audience that his opponent accepts campaign contributions from companies her husband regulates and this is wrong. (Mrs. Esty’s husband, Dan Esty, is the Malloy appointed commissioner of DEEP (Department of Energy and Environmental protection). NRG Energy is one of many companies he has to watch over.
Esty rebuts she proudly served on the Energy Committee (for the one term she served as a state representative before losing the seat back to the Republican incumbent she ousted in the previous race) and have accepted six thousand donations from them – my husband also is in public service, she adds. She coldly tells Roraback he should focus on her and not her husband.
The candidates are asked about unemployment and what should Congress be doing for young people.
Sen. Roraback answers “not raising taxes” and informs the audience that Elizabeth Esty wants to raise them substantially – on you and all Northwestern people – small business people. If Elizabeth Esty has her way, seven hundred thousand people will have fewer job opportunities in the middle class. Governor Malloy imposed the biggest tax increase in Connecticut– (it’s wrong for him and wrong for Elizabeth Esty.)
Mrs. Esty says “let’s make college affordable.” She continues that under the Republican Congress loans have been cut. She feels we need more loan forgiveness, training, and skills for young people in the 21st century. She adds she also wants to comment on raising taxes. She tows her party lines talking points and says the Republicans want to lower taxes on millionaires, capitol gains – all from the very top. “Trickle down 2.0.” It won’t work under Bush and it won’t work now, she says.
Andrew Roraback says he agrees with Esty that access to education is very important but he tells the group on hand to ask her how her legislation would have closed the least used UCONN campus in Torrington. He changes topic and says he would not have supported the Ryan budget because I don’t support reducing PELL Grants.
The next question is a good natured one who asks each of them who is going to win in football. Esty says she’s not following football but both teams will fight valiantly. She digresses into a memory of her schooling inCambridgewhere (rival to Harvard) MIT won because they put up a big balloon that distracted everyone – ‘ingenuity at its best.’ Roraback says his alma mater Yale is the perennial underdog but he believes the underdog can win. “I’m a Republican running in the state ofConnecticut,” he observes, “but I believe I’ll win.”
The next subject addresses taxes:
Roraback explains his approach is we should not raise taxes on anyone on January 1st. He believes we keep payroll reduction and rates in effect. He is concerned about a double dip recession and suggests we completely reform…
Esty thinks we need to extend the tax cuts for the middle class. If you’re going to reduce the deficit and you can’t increase spending and reduce the deficit. If we don’t raise taxes in a year – goes into a tax millionaire mantra….I’m opposed to a double dip recession but we have to get serious.
Roraback counters in 2009, Elizabeth Esty voted to increase taxes onConnecticut’s most successful residents by 30% and guess what? We continued to spiral downward. “We can’t tax our way into prosperity.” He surmises it won’t be painless onConnecticutto (get it out of debt but worth it.)
Esty responds with Democrat talking points saying ‘you’ve heard this before’ from Romney, McMahon – just trust us. In a silly remark, Esty says to Roraback ‘perhaps you should run against Malloy because you certainly talk a lot about him.’
In regards to the Dream Act, (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors), Esty replies she does support this at the National level. She says we need comprehensive immigration reform, to secure our borders, hold employers accountable (for hiring illegals) and feels (there should be a back-of-the-line policy with immigration.) She notes that Andrew Roraback voted against it (crowd breaks out in applause) – she continues, but I support it as it’s the right thing to do.
Andrew Roraback answers that Elizabeth Esty is right that he did vote against it. He suggests to the audience and at home viewers on cable that they read the Senate transcript (for more detail.) He says ‘it was a tough vote.’ He decided (after reading much material and hearing much testimony) if someone brought their child here against the law, that this child then through this law, would take a spot of a child who was here legally. (he could not approve this philosophy)
Coming to a close, congressional candidates are asked about the housing calamities and foreclosures.
Senator Roraback remarks that the excesses of Wall Street demanded a regulatory response; Dodd-Frank is tying themselves up in knots and small banks have been smothered in regulations since 2008.
Mrs. Esty agrees about small banks and why bipartisanship is important.
They’re asked about spending and deficits.
Esty says we need to let the tax cuts expire at the upper end which are doing very well – If we don’t invest as a country …the paths going forward are really very different.
Roraback says he thinks Esty speaks very well as someone from the upper echelon – as someone whose given a half million dollars of her own money to pay for ads to distort my own record. (he refers to the hyper-partisanship D.C.)
Esty rebuts having looked at Andrew’s financial report I don’t think he’s in a position to hurl those comments towards me.
The long serving Republican legislator refers to a tape measure that is made inNew Britain,CT and describes how the worker where these are made gave him this to measure his success in Congress. He summarizes things he feels should be considered: an energy plan to reduce (our reliance on foreign oil); strengthening access to higher education; his eighteen years of (legislative) service that is based on building relationships; name calling advances the interests of no one; and that we need solutions. He asks listeners to please give him the opportunity (to serve in Congress) and “I will make you proud.”
Esty breaks into her party’s handbook for candidates that all Democrat’s running for office seem to repeat at every venue. She tells viewers ‘as you’ve seen tonight, Romney, Ryan, Boehner, and Andrew Roraback would have us drilling for more oil and changing benefits for the Medicare and Social Security that will all affect the middle class. She campaigns that Washington must get back to the needs of the American people; manufacturing needs a level playing field and seniors need Medicare. She appeals that we can do this by working together and proclaims she wants to take her experience as a mom, an attorney, and a community leader to Washington.
Moderator Kellogg reminds people to exercise their right to vote in conclusion.
Ameriborn News believes this debate showed the clear differences between the two candidates despite their party affiliation.
Esty’s typical party-line talking points of environmentally restrictive green energy solutions, taxing the rich, and anti-Republican rhetoric show she would be more of the same if elected – the last thing our state needs now. Her short time in the Connecticut General Assembly is better than none, but can’t compare with the seasoned and popular State Senator who has served in both the House and the Senate for eighteen years.
His service on the Environment Committee, Judiciary Committee, Public Health Committee, Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee, Regulation Review Committee, and the Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee makes him a learned legislator ready to represent residents of the Fifth District with acumen and certainty.
His first hand knowledge of so many pertinent issues throughout northwestern Connecticut and the state will give him a high advantage as a freshman Congressman in Washington. Popular with so many voters of every party affiliation here, he’s already known businessman and constituents by name for decades. Educated, dedicated, sincere, and the right fit for Connecticut as a fiscal conservative and social moderate Roraback is a natural to be the next representative of the Fifth Congressional District. He will serve us well.