WASHINGTON — Republican David Sullivan has received support from a conservative political action committee in his bid to unseat Rep. Jahana Hayes in the 5th Congressional district, but Sullivan disavowed the mailer sent by the outside group.
It’s the first major instance of outside spending in the most competitive district in Connecticut.
Sullivan did not meet the fundraising or organizational thresholds to win support in any of the three tiers of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Young Guns program that supports strong GOP candidates. The NRCC has not contributed to funds Sullivan’s campaign.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has also not made big spends in the 5th District, a sign they believe Hayes is likely to win re-election on her own.
No Socialism PAC spent over $55,000 on mailers featuring an image of the first-term representative in front of a burning scene with the message “Jahana Hayes. Too radical for Connecticut. Too radical for Congress.”
A former federal prosecutor, Sullivan has called Hayes an “extreme Far Left socialist.” Hayes does not identify as a socialist, but she supported Medicare for All legislation, a proposal Republicans routinely refer to as socialized medicine because, in some versions, it would move all Americans to a system of government-provided health insurance.
Sullivan said on Facebook, he disavowed the PAC mailer, while standing in opposition to the political philosphy of socialism, where government controls the means of production and exchange.
“David is offended by outside agitators using improper tactics, such as crashing Zoom meetings, decapitating the statue of Christopher Columbus at Waterbury Town Hall, or distributing inflammatory print messages, to advance their agenda or views,” his campaign said in a statement.
Hayes called the mailer a “dog whistle” on Facebook and said it showed the desperation of her opposition.
“When they cannot attack me on substance, they have to double down on fear, hate, and division,” Hayes said.
No Socialism PAC was formed this month, Federal Election Commission filings show, and started to publicly distribute direct mailers in the 5th District on Oct. 20. The PAC is a single-candidate super PAC in support of Sullivan, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Previously, a super PAC called Together We Thrive spent $750 in support of Hayes and Sierra Club Independent Action spent $10 to back Hayes.
Hayes was labeled a frontline Democrat, the DCCC’s name for their most vulnerable incumbents, although her district is now rated solid Democratic by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
Asked about the PAC spending Wednesday, the DCCC, which supports House Democrats, was not familiar with No Socialism PAC or its mailer and expressed confidence in the Hayes’s race. The DCCC has contributed $9,402 to Hayes this cycle, but has not made independent expenditures to boost her, a sign they don’t think she needs extra help to win again.
“This is a place we expect to hold onto on election night,” said DCCC Executive Director Lucinda Guinn. “We have not seen a ton of outside spending come into this race because Ms. Hayes has done such a wonderful job representing her constituents in the district. This race has not been as highly competitive as we once thought it might be.”
Sullivan has fundraised more money than the previous two GOP candidates for the 5th District combined.
Sullivan declined to comment on the outside support or the lack of support from the national committee. When contacted about the NRCC’s lack of involvement in the race, a campaign spokesman for Sullivan pointed instead to Sullivan’s 12 endorsements from police unions and organizations.
Like many Democrats, Hayes has not received similar police endorsements this year. Her husband is a Waterbury Police detective.
Sullivan supported President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 response in the debate and was critical of former Vice President Joe Biden’s tax proposals.
Hayes is highly critical of Trump on numerous issues, including COVID-19, and said she backed Biden’s tax plan. She endorsed Biden’s running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., for president before Harris ended her presidential campaign.
Nationally, Democrats are expected to hold their majority in the House and possibly expand their margin. Republican candidates have felt a drag from Trump who has had low approval ratings and is polling behind Biden.
In 2018, Hayes won her seat by nearly 12 percentage points, or over 31,000 votes. The seat has been represented by a Democrat in Congress since 2007.
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