Last week, party insiders from the 5th District convened in Waterbury and endorsed Chris Donovan as their choice for Congress. The House Speaker won the nomination with 216 votes (64 percent) while two other Democrats were able to gather enough votes necessary to force a primary (Elizabeth Esty (66 votes/19 percent) and Dan Roberti (54 votes/16 percent)).
While much has been written about last week’s convention, here’s my video account of what transpired, including how the changes in the delegate votes made a difference in determining Roberti’s fate.
As with most political events, you can’t escape the pre-event rallies with volunteers showing support for their candidate. From free hot dogs from the Roberti camp (complete with constant reminders that he’s the “only candidate with a jobs plan”), and Esty volunteers franticly waving lawn signs, to hearing Donovan’s team chant “C-H-R-I-S, Donovan is the best” until it was beaten into my skull, each camp made did their best to make their presence known.
Nomination speeches for Chris Donovan.
“We all believe in stronger education, affordable access to heath care, and equal rights and opportunities for every person. We need a Congressperson who will fight for our values in Washington, I deeply believe that Chris Donovan is the person for that job.” – Anna Maloney, nomination speaker for Chris Donovan.
The nomination speeches for Donovan (a total of five) centered on topics that I’m sure will be repeated throughout the primary season, his advocacy on educational maters, health care, rights of individuals, and his progressive record.
Nomination speeches for Elizabeth Esty.
“We are facing a critical time in our country’s history, and a critical choice at this convention. We must the win the seat in November and we must nominate the Democrat that will swing the most unaffiliated voters in our direction, I believe that Elizabeth is that person. “Michael Long, nomination speaker for Elizabeth Esty.
The nomination speeches for Elizabeth Esty focused on stressing the candidate’s voting record while attempting to paint the State Rep as the only candidate who will attract unaffiliated voters. The message Esty supporters were trying to make was rather clear: Donovan is too far to the left to win in the general election in a district that's historically moderate.
Nomination speeches for Dan Roberti.
”Whether he spent a year of his life with the homeless, or helping veterans who returned home from the Middle East, or on the ground during Hurricane Katrina helping with the relief efforts…I’m here to nominate Dan Roberti.” – Robert Fields, nomination speaker for Dan Roberti.
The nomination speeches for Dan Roberti primarily focused on his history of advocacy for people and well as his job creation plan.
Finally we have Randy Yale, a long shot candidate who was nominated by two delegates from the floor.
Roll call vote
After the nomination speeches were out of the way, each of the municipalities that make up the 5th District were required to cast their ballots.
For the inside political junkies, here’s the roll call breakdown (via Aldon Hynes)
After the roll call, delegates were allowed to change their votes…and here’s where things became interesting.
Litchfield (5 votes)
(Later, Litchfield changed all 5 votes to Donovan)
After Litchfield switched for Donovan, other municipalities switched for Roberti in order to secure the Kent Democrat his 15 percent needed to primary.
North Canaan (2 votes)
(Later, North Canaan changed their vote to 1 Esty, 1 Roberti)
Plymouth (5 votes)
(Later, Plymouth changed their vote to 4 Roberti, 1 Donovan)
Waterbury (42 votes)
(Later, Waterbury changed their vote to 24 Roberti, 12 Donovan, 6 Esty)
After the changes, here’s the final vote tally:
TOTAL DELEGATE VOTES:336
VOTES NEEDED FOR NOMINATION: 169
FIFTEEN PERCENT NEEDED FOR PRIMARY: 51
ROBERTI: 54 (16 percent)
After the convention, I had a chance to speak to each of the candidates and get their take on the upcoming primary season.
Low point of the convention
While the convention was eventful, there were some low points…and this moment tops the list.
While Chris Donovan went to address the floor and give his nomination acceptance speech, some over-zealous volunteers for Roberti wanted to make their presence known by attempting to block Donovan from the cameras…
Hopefully after viewing this, Roberti (as well as Donovan and Esty) will reign in the craziness…it doesn’t look good (for the record, accusations were also made regarding certain people in Esty and Donovan’s camp, which I could not verify).
If the convention is any indication of things to come, it should be an interesting primary season.