Connecticut’s Crowded Senate Primary

Brandon T. Bisceglia

The slate of candidates vying to represent Connecticut in the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Independent Joseph Lieberman has ballooned since he announced in January that he will not seek a fifth term. The list keeps growing; as recently as Nov. 23, Fairfield Republican Peter Lumaj formally announced his bid for the job.

More candidates are sure to appear between now and Aug. 14, 2012, when primary voters will pick their favorites from each major party to go head-to-head in the Nov. 6 general election. However, it will be difficult for anyone who decides to jump in late to meet the March 9 deadline to file enough signatures with the state to get on the ticket. Chances are that the next Senator from Connecticut will be someone who is already on the campaign trail.

Here is an introductory look at the current suite of candidates:


Susan Bysiewicz

Age: 50

Hometown: Middletown

Education: Yale College; Duke University School of Law

History: Connecticut House of Representatives, 100th district (1993-1999); Connecticut Secretary of the State (1999-2011); ran briefly for governor in 2010 before dropping out to run for attorney general, for which she was disqualified

Policy Positions: Would support the expanded access to preventative care included in the Affordable Care Act; would support the provisions in health care reform which allow children to be covered through their parents plan until the age of 26; push to pass a federal law for public campaign financing based on the Connecticut state law; support the Pay Equity Fairness Act that will require companies to pay women equally for equal work.

Chris Murphy

Age: 38

Hometown: Cheshire

Education: Williams College; University of Connecticut

History: Connecticut House of Representatives, 81st district (1999-2002); Connecticut Senate, 16th district (2003-2006); U.S. House of Representatives, Connecticut’s 5th district (2006-present)

Policy Positions: Would support increases to health care programs, food and energy assistance, and unemployment compensation; would increase the threshold for a product to be considered “American Made” from 50% domestic content to 60% and mandate agencies report their waivers of domestic sourcing laws in a public database; would advocate for a system of public financing similar to Connecticut’s; support legislation to enact a “cap and trade” system to reduce greenhouse gas emmissions.

William Tong

Age: 38

Hometown: Stamford

Education: Brown University; University of Chicago Law School

History: Connecticut House of Representatives, 147th district (2007-present)

Policy Positions: Would build a mechanism to push money from corporate treasuries directly into infrastructure projects; end tax-breaks to oil companies; support increased oversight and time limitations on Patriot Act provisions that threaten civil liberties; would support the Disclose Act to make campaign financing more transparent.

Lee Whitnum

Age: 51

Hometown: Greenwich

Education: University of Maryland University College; Harvard University

History: Novelist; ran for U.S. House of Representatives, Connecticut’s 4th district in 2008; ran for U.S. Senate in 2010

Policy Positions: Would sponsor a bill to prosecute American settlers who commit acts of violence in Israel and Palestine; would ban deep-sea fishing trawlers.


Brian K. Hill

Age: 41

Hometown: Hartford

Education: Southern Connecticut State University; Howard University School of Law; Army Judge Advocate General Legal School and Center

History: Army; Navy; Connecticut National Guard; attorney and owner, BKH & Associates

Policy Positions: Would create a bi-partisan Congressional “sunset” commission to annually evaluate the purpose of each federal agency, look for duplicate programs, and recommend necessary changes to agencies; eliminate the federal gas tax and reduce the corporate tax to 15 percent; separate health insurance from employment and repeal Obama’s health care legislation.

Linda McMahon

Age: 63

Hometown: Greenwich

Education: East Carolina University

History: Former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment; Connecticut State Board of Education (2009-2010), ran for U.S. Senate in 2010

Policy Positions: Would encourage domestic production of natural gas and oil, as well as provide tax credits for research and development of cleaner energy technologies; lift caps on charter schools; repeal Obama’s health care legislation and allow small businesses to pool health care risk.

Peter Lumaj

Hometown: Fairfield

Education: City University of New York; Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

History: Attorney

Policy Positions: Would eliminate the IRS; implement a 25-year moratorium on immigration against nations that harbor terrorism; eliminate the U.S. Department of Education; make English the official language.

Jason L. McCoy

Hometown: Vernon

Education: University of Connecticut; Western New England College

History: Deputy Mayor of Vernon (2005-2007); Mayor of Vernon (2007-present)

Policy Positions: Would oppose “unfunded mandates” and overregulation; would use his experience consolidating town services and balancing town budgets to inform policies in Washington.

Christopher Shays

Age: 66

Hometown: Bridgeport

Education: Principia College; New York University

History: U.S. House of Representatives, Connecticut’s 4th district (1987-2009)

Policy Positions: Has not released official platform, but is famously moderate, having sided against fellow Republicans as often as with them during his tenure in the House.

Kie Westby

Hometown: Southbury

Education: Wesleyan University; Cumberland Law School

History: Marine Corp Reserve (1976-2000), attorney in private practice (1990-present)

Policy Positions: Would oppose the Affordable Health Care Act; called for the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder.