FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Connecticut’s voters will select the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate on Tuesday as former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz and U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy face off in a primary for the chance to claim outgoing Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s job.
The Democratic Party endorsed Murphy as its candidate for the U.S. Senate at the statewide convention in May. Bysiewicz received support from 24 percent of the delegates, enough to push for a primary. Democratic voters will choose between the two on Aug. 14.
Much of the debate in the leadup to the primary has centered on the campaign itself. Bysiewicz aired a TV ad July 19 that said Murphy had “taken more money from Wall Street than any other Democratic candidate.” She also questioned his vote to allow a hedge fund “loophole” in a bill ending tax breaks for financial executives.
Murphy, however, publicly disputed the facts of the ad. “I’ve never seen a candidate intentionally and willfully lie over and over again after she’s been called to the carpet for it,” he said after their most recent debate July 30, according to The Associated Press. “She knows empirically that I am not the top recipient of Wall Street among members of Congress, and she continues to say it.”
The Center for Responsive Politics lists Murphy’s contributions from hedge funds in 2012 at $10,200, or 21st among sitting congressmen. From the Securities and Investment industry as a whole, however, Murphy is top among House Democrats, with $328,195.
“It is absolutely accurate that Chris Murphy took over $700,000 from Wall Street sources,” Bysiewicz said in a statement, referring to his total since 2006. “Mr. Murphy is looking for any technicality possible to attack my ad because he cannot defend these facts.”
Politically, the two candidates share ground. For example, both have said they support marriage equality for same-sex couples and preserving the reforms made in the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.”
Both also advocate for reducing dependence on foreign oil by encouraging more energy-efficient cars and green energy production. The two are also similar on education, pledging to encourage more Pell Grants for college students and to create more state-specific policies on qualifying for federal schools funding.
The two are also running on plans to bring more jobs to Connecticut. Bysiewicz’s platform includes easing burdens on small businesses, rebuilding the state’s infrastructure and bringing more manufacturing here. Murphy’s economic plan centers on his “Buy American” program, a series of bills to encourage manufacturing and selling domestically made goods.
Murphy led Bysiewicz by a margin of 49 percent to 32 percent in the latest poll of likely Democratic votes by the Public Policy Polling institute, taken at the end of July. The gap has narrowed since June, when a Quinnipiac University poll put Murphy ahead by 30 percentage points, 50 percent to 20 percent.
The most recent poll found that both would fare well against Republican front-runner Linda McMahon. Among voters of both parties, 45 percent said they would choose Bysiewicz if the race were down to her and McMahon, and 50 percent would choose Murphy in the same scenario. McMahon took 42 percent of the vote in both cases.
“With solid leads in both the primary and general, Chris Murphy is likely to be the next senator from Connecticut,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling.
Biesewicz also trails Murphy in campaign fundraising. As of July 25, she had collected more than $2.3 million throughout the race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Of that, she had spent $1.6 million. Murphy has raised more than $5.6 million and spent more than $3.1 million.
Only registered Democrats can vote in Tuesday’s primary. Voters must establish their party affiliation by noon Monday to qualify.