Race for CT’s 5th District heats up

Incumbent Jahana Hayes (left) and Republican challenger George Logan appeared for the Fifth Congressional District debate at Central Connecticut State University October 20, 2022.

Mark Mirko/CT Public

Race for CT’s 5th District heats up

As national groups and leaders start turning their attention to Connecticut’s most competitive House race, the candidates for the 5th Congressional District are seeing an uptick in fundraising ahead of a likely rematch.

In the first three months of the year, Republican candidate George Logan raised slightly more money than U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes for the second fundraising quarter in a row. But the Democratic incumbent still maintains a significant cash advantage, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission for the first quarter of 2024.

Logan, a former state senator who narrowly lost to Hayes in 2022, brought in more than $590,000 from January through the end of March. During that same time period, he spent $220,000. Logan nearly doubled his bank account since the last fundraising quarter, and has about $740,000 on hand.

Hayes, meanwhile, raised more than $560,000 over the past three months and spent about $162,000. She has about twice the amount of money in the bank compared to Logan, going into the second fundraising quarter of 2024 with more than $1.4 million.

Hayes defeated Logan in November 2022 by 2,004 votes, and the anticipated rematch is on track to get the same national attention in November.

Logan, the son of Guatemalan immigrants who had roots in Jamaica, got into state politics in 2016 when he won his first election and unseated a longtime Democratic state senator. He won again in 2018, but narrowly lost reelection in 2020.

A Republican from Connecticut has not served in the U.S. House since 2009. The last Republican to represent the 5th District was former Rep. Nancy Johnson, who lost reelection in 2006 to Democrat Chris Murphy, who is now a U.S. senator.

Hayes, who became the first Black woman to represent Connecticut in Congress, announced last August she would seek a fourth term. Prior to her election, she was a teacher in Waterbury and was named the 2016 National Teacher of the Year.

While Hayes won her two previous elections by big margins in 2018 and 2020, her most recent race against Logan was one of the most competitive and expensive in years. He came close to a win during a midterm year, but is now running during a presidential election year. Biden easily won the state and the 5th District in 2020.

With upwards of $12 million in outside spending in 2022, money is once again expected to flood Connecticut’s 5th District this year. But so far, fundraising has largely been on the candidate side.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, the top super PAC for House Republicans, has targeted a number of competitive races including in Connecticut. Similar to the 2022 cycle, Logan will likely get major financial resources to compete against Hayes ahead of November.

In the most recent fundraising quarter, CLF donated $10,000 directly to Logan’s campaign, but the group is expected to play more of an indirect role like the last election cycle when it runs ads on his behalf, though super PACs cannot coordinate with a campaign or candidate.

Both Hayes and Logan got donations from a number of members of Congress in the past fundraising quarter, including from leadership within their respective parties.

U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., who is House minority whip, donated to Hayes. Meanwhile, House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., and House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik’s leadership PAC both contributed to Logan.

Hayes also got a range of support from political action committees representing labor unions and agricultural groups that are likely invested in reauthorizing the Farm Bill.

As the race heats up, both parties have been trying to cast one another as extremists and drawing early contrasts.

Democrats have raised concerns about Johnson’s voting record being too extreme for a blue state like Connecticut and moderate Republicans, noting his opposition to same-sex marriage being codified into federal law, support for a national ban on abortion after 15 weeks, and efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

Hayes has made fundraising appeals since Johnson’s visit, tweeting that his stance on some issues “further solidifies my opponent’s embrace of the most extreme MAGA policies,” referring to former President Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.”

When asked if Johnson’s record and support for Trump hurts Logan and other GOP candidates in the state, Republicans have pushed back, seeking to link Hayes’ voting record to progressive members of Congress known as “The Squad.”

“We know we’re up against the most entrenched Washington special interest groups who have made it clear that Connecticut’s Fifth Congressional District is a must win for them, and they will spend whatever it takes to maintain the status quo,” Logan said.

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