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Tuesday, May 22 Local

Hayes asks supporters for $10K in 24 hours for primary

When newcomer Jahana Hayes came just three votes short of the Democratic nomination for U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty’s seat on Monday, the assumption was Hayes would challenge party nominee Mary Glassman in the August primary.

And perhaps for a time Hayes expected that she would.

There was certainly no indication after Monday’s Fifth District nominating convention from Hayes - the 2016 National Teacher of the Year from Waterbury - that she had reservations about a primary battle with Glassman, a former first selectman from Simsbury who has impressed Democrats with her organization.

But on Tuesday, Hayes weighed the cost of a primary and issued a challenge to her supporters.

“I am asking 1,000 people to donate $10 in the next 24 hours,” Hayes announced late Tuesday night on Instagram. “I appreciate your ‘likes’ and visible support but I need to raise the funds necessary to primary and show my donors that the people are behind me.”

If $10,000 seems like a lot of money to ask for on a day when many in the district were rebounding from a devastating storm, it may be. But Hayes has a long way to go, and not much time to get there.

“Mary Glassman has already raised $150,000 for the primary,” said Glassman’s campaign spokesman Mark Bergman. “And we have filed numerous pre-convention filings with the Federal Elections Commission to show Mary’s fundraising momentum.”

Hayes, the Waterbury school district’s talent and professional development supervisor, could not be reached on Wednesday for comment. Her campaign spokesperson said the spirit of the Instagram challenge was more important than the letter of the challenge.

“We are focusing on energizing regular people, because these small-dollar donations are the way this campaign is going to be financed,” said Meghan Scanlon. “She is trying to set that tone and gauge the energy out there for her campaign.”

Hayes’ supporters said she was doing the right thing.

“She is being really responsible because running a primary is not an easy thing to do,” said Kenneth Curran, chairman of the Waterbury Democratic Town Committee, which put all of it 43 delegate votes behind Hayes on Monday night. “Her campaign is about engaging the everyday voter, and in just 12 days of being in the race you can see what a tremendous impact she had.”

Hayes finished Monday’s nominating convention with 168 votes - three votes shy of the 171 needed to win the required 50 percent of delegates and the endorsement. Glassman finished with 172 delegate votes.

Democrats and Republicans are in a battle for Connecticut’s most competitive Congressional seat, which has been held by Esty, a Democrat, for three terms. Esty dropped out of the race after Hearst Connecticut Media reported that she covered up of an office abuse scandal.

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Republicans have nominated former Meriden mayor Manny Santos, and given enough support to Southbury’s Ruby O’Neill and Watertown’s Richard Dupont to force a GOP primary in August.

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342

Rob Ryser|City Hall/General Assignment

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