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Murphy introduced Hayes to his donors in 5th District race

July 11, 2018

Drawn to her background as a teacher and woman of color, U. S. Sen. Chris Murphy has boosted the campaign of political newcomer Jahana Hayes, introducing her to influential donors, experienced staff and a good dose of his own advice.

“Part of the reason why I encouraged Jahana to run for Congress is because we don’t have a single nonwhite member of the New England congressional delegation,” Murphy said in an interview Saturday. “I think we are really missing something.”

Support from Murphy, a Democrat with national notoriety, a statewide base and deep campaign coffers, is no small thing in the race for the 5th District, a seat he held from 2007 to 2012. Hayes, the 2016 Teacher of the Year from Waterbury, is challenging the endorsed Democratic candidate, Mary Glassman, in a primary for the seat in August.

“Someone like me has never held this position from a Connecticut Democratic party,” Hayes said. “I think it is incumbent upon party leaders to get people engaged, to get people at least thinking about (running). I think that’s what leaders are supposed to do.”

Murphy called Hayes, a “wonderful contrast” to Glassman, a former Simsbury first selectman. He has not issued a formal endorsement in the race in favor of either candidate.

“They have somebody with experience that has served at different levels of government,” Murphy said Saturday. “And they have somebody whose life story brings an outsider’s perspective to the table. I’m really interested to see which way the voters will go (in the primary).”

Murphy’s political Rolodex

Hayes has spoken to voters “who have said ‘We are very fond of Chris Murphy and he said we should meet you,’” she said. People who have “good relationships” with Murphy have also hosted fundraisers for her.

On Saturday, Hayes will have a fundraiser in Avon at Eckert Fine Art Gallery. Owner Jane Eckert and four of her six co-hosts for the event have each donated at least $1,000 to Murphy’s campaign this election cycle, according to FEC data.

“If you look at some of the people who have written checks to Jahana, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a lot of them are historical supporters of mine,” Murphy said.

The fundraising impact of this relationship is not yet clear. Financial data for Hayes’s campaign is not yet available from the FEC because she declared her candidacy after the last reporting deadline. Hayes’ fundraising data will become available July 15.

Campaign fundraising could play a role in Hayes’ push to defeat Glassman, who said Tuesday she raised $380,000, mostly in the last 10 weeks. Glassman declined to comment on Murphy’s support for Hayes.

“We’re really focused on listening to voters and what we are really hearing is they are looking for someone who have the skills and experience to get things done,” Glassman said.

Glassman has her own connections to Murphy. She endorsed him for his 2012 Senate run, according to 2011 media reports. Her son Nathan worked for Chris Murphy’s senate campaign from 2012 to 2013, his LinkedIn account says.

Overlapping staff

Murphy and Hayes also share political advice.

Kenneth Curran, the state director for the Murphy’s Senate office, ran Murphy’s campaigns in 2008, 2010 and 2012. In his free time, Curran chairs the Waterbury Democratic Town Committee, which gave all of its delegates to Hayes at the state convention. Hayes works in Waterbury public schools and grew up in the projects there.

Curran has shared with Hayes’ campaign tips about running in the 5th District that he has gleaned from the many campaigns he’s had a hand in.

“I talk to her campaign frequently,” Curran said. “I am certainly involved in advising and in general duties in the campaign.”

In addition, Meghan Scanlon, Hayes’ campaign finance director, is married to state Rep. Sean Scanlon, who is Murphy’s director of community affairs.

Calls of support

Hayes and Murphy knew each other from years of civic events in Waterbury, and from Hayes contacting Murphy, her representative.

When Hayes lost the Democratic endorsement to Glassman in May, she called Murphy. His words of encouragement kept her in the race.

“If she hadn’t (called), I probably would have called her,” Murphy said.

Since May, Murphy has spoken to Hayes several times by phone and at campaign events they’ve both attended.

“Because I was there to encourage Jahana at the beginning, I have continued to talk to her and continued to provide her introductions to people who can help her financially and politically,” he said.

Under the radar

One politically active person in the 5th District said Murphy called her early on to tell her about an “interesting woman out there who might run.”

Murphy stopped short of outright support for Hayes, the woman said. She described Murphy’s work for Hayes as “under the radar.”

“It’s very unclear what’s happening,” the woman said, referring to Murphy’s activities. “People are feeling very conflicted, mainly because there are two strong candidates. People like both candidates.”

Hayes said she is grateful for the senator’s support but she can also stand on her own.

“I would never try to diminish or devalue that,” Hayes said. “But it just is, like I said, I’m not a serial candidate, I’m not a perennial candidate, I’ve been asked multiple times (to run), there’s some excitement that I said yes. There is something to be said about that too.”

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